Whenever we talk about Boss Lady Coaching's mission, you won't hear us focus on empowering women. Women already have power and don't need me or anyone else to give them permission to use it. Instead we believe in the power of mentorship and set out to create a network that sponsors women into positions of influence. As we each move up the ladder and gain a seat at a more powerful table, our job is to pull up more chairs so other women can join us!
Very few of the people I consider influential sponsors or mentors in my life and career knowingly assumed that title. We didn't sit down and chart a course for a structured mentoring relationship. Their mentorship was defined by teaching through example, telling me what I needed to hear even when I didn't want to hear it, and building a bond of trust. Over time I found myself in similar relationships where the tables were turned and I was charting a path ahead of other women. It still never ceases to amaze me when someone thanks me for mentoring them, as the things I did seemed so small at the time. In retrospect, I've looked back and identified 4 simple actions I've taken that allowed me to inadvertently become a mentor to women who have also taught me so much through our friendship.
Write letters of recommendation or serve as a reference for talented up-and-comers. When was the last time you asked for a letter of recommendation or testimonial for your business? Seeking accolades about our own performance can intimidate even the most resilient Boss Ladies. Women often struggle to ask for endorsements or positive reviews since we can be our own worst critic. Instead of waiting to be asked, if you get to know someone with impressive skills, offer to advocate for them! Write them a letter of recommendation for their portfolio or ask how you can help them achieve their goals. There's nothing better than seeing this process come full circle by asking favors of the same women I'd once done this favor for!
Nominate women to be recognized. What awards are given out in your company, profession, or community? How can you use these platforms to celebrate the great things being done by women in your network? What leadership roles might they excel in, and how can you open those doors? This is your chance to spread positivity and encouragement while also raising the visibility of women who are doing extraordinary things.
Connect talented women with each other. One of the easiest ways to help those around you succeed is by connecting people to each other! I recently had coffee with a young entrepreneur and while we were talking, I noticed another one of my friends who is a fellow small business owner had entered the store. Instead of just waving and continuing our conversation, I introduced them and made sure they learned about the other's ventures. After our meeting I'd soon forgotten about that exchange, until one of them emailed me to share that these two new friends had set up their own coffee date and were planning on collaborating in the future. Ask women who they'd like to meet or who in your network you can introduce them to. Set up coffees or lunches with people who could support each other. The more interconnected your network becomes, the more relationships you'll be able to leverage when needed!
Provide feedback. Studies show that one of the things women and Millennials want most but fail to get in the workplace is feedback. Is your friend preparing for a big interview? Offer to review her resume or participate in a mock interview to help her feel more confident with the real thing. Is a colleague struggling with a project? Ask if they're comfortable with you taking a look at it to see if your outside perspective can shed any light on the problem. As we've discussed on the podcast, feedback can be a touchy subject that needs to be approached intentionally. Being able to offer impartial guidance to help your mentee put their best foot forward allows you to tackle challenges together. With that bond of trust comes the opportunity for you both to grow and improve.
The best part is that the more influential those around you become as a result of your support, the better positioned they will be to repay the favor to you in the future. You don't have to wait for someone to ask you to be their mentor to create mutually beneficial opportunities for other women to succeed!