There have been so many times in my life where I wish I had had someone to give me some honest advice or to suggest who else I could speak to.
Whether it was when I was a kid and having difficulties with my parents, or whether as an adult where I had difficulty with a client. Sure, there are many friends around, but people with experience? That you trusted? That you were willing to open up to? Very few people. If any!
As we qualify and start working, it’s always useful to have 3 buckets of help.
Bucket 1: Help to increase revenue, or get a better job
Bucket 2: If you are in business, helping you become more efficient (cut costs, do better deals)
Bucket 3: Help with good advice, whether business or personal
Most people concentrate on looking at where they can find people to put in their own buckets. But the real secret is when other people ask you to be in their buckets. Or simply put, how can you help them? That is when your value goes up!
For example, often people go to a networking event to get business. They hope to meet someone who has a business problem that they can solve. However, if you go to the event, ready to help someone in an area that they need help, there is more chance of a bond being created. In the future, if they are looking for your expertise, they will think back to you.
My passion is being an ‘eco-system enricher’. I support women to nurture their own network, so they have experts, friends, supporters and clients all helping each other grow. And when all the women start combining their networks, we suddenly have a living, thriving ecosystem that helps each other very quickly and efficiently, faster than Facebook!
So, can we create a combination of buckets 1, 2 and 3 above that the whole female ICAI community can dip into and take the support others. It is possible, if each one of us thinks about what we can give to the others.
You might not think you have much to give but ladies, let me tell you – you have a lot! You are the Queens of Multi-tasking and diplomacy!! And it behoves you to share your knowledge with others. For example, I often get asked about how my children cope when I am travelling or spending too many hours away from them. Or how I manage to put work aside when I am with my children. I could pretend that it is not a big problem, but why? Why was it wrong to show vulnerability in dealing with a real-life problem? I put my thoughts together and a collection of top 5 tips that work every time was born. I share this with women who open up about the challenges of motherhood and work. I also ask them for their suggestions. I got a brilliant one when I was training in Sri Lanka. My kids were 8 and 6 and they missed me a lot. My friend in Sri Lanka suggested I got the homework from the school in advance and did the homework over skype with them. It worked beautifully. I was there but not there! To date I use this with my kids and they really appreciate it. It has now morphed into me showing them what I am eating for dinner, or my hotel room (to which I always get ‘You’re so lucky!!!’ but they have no idea how empty it is without their energy).
The strength of an ecosystem or network is what joins them together. And for us, that is simply our knowledge and conversations. So, we need women with knowledge of the three buckets above. If you are working in an organisation and have budget spend for tasks, share your parameters honestly with those you meet and give them a chance. Tell them what would bring them into the running, or who they should contact. If you have a really good culture in your office, then share with others what makes it successful. If you have contacts to excellent recruiters, then ask others if they struggle with recruitment and make recommendations. If you tried advertising in a certain place and it brought in business, ask others how they bring in business and share your learning.
What if we identified ‘champions’ from the women who have attended the conference? What if we set up a skills matrix, so we could have a trusted group of champions who were willing to help others in areas on a confidential basis? If those champions had others in their team who were willing to commit time if women needed it, to help them reach an outcome? Wouldn’t it be great to have such a support system?
That would give our women the courage to succeed, knowing that others have her back and will be there.
Because that is what an eco-system does. It thrives when its component parts are well integrated and supporting each other. So let’s create a living thriving ecosystem that will help all of us not just survive, but truly thrive.