Helping Professional Women Band Together and Build Strengths

networkingBy Jessica Titlebaum (Chicago)

There has been a noticeable change in the way women help other women in the workforce.

“In the past 10 years, I have seen a huge push among senior level women who are passionate about mentoring,” said Jo Miller, Founder of Women’s Leadership Coaching “to help emerging women leaders gain access to networks, role models and opportunities.”

Miller offers seminars, coaching programs and webinars that are designed for businesswomen to create roadmaps into leadership positions. She launched a webinar series as a cost-effective solution for career advancement and advice. Divided into two categories to meet the needs of emerging and executive leaders, the webinars feature speakers who have broken through the glass ceiling and want to share their experiences with other like-minded women.

Miller also speaks at seminars and workshops regarding career advancement for women. Topics include winning at the game of office politics, creating your own brand as an emerging leader and becoming a person of influence.

“In the past, we heard too often about the senior executive woman who climbed the ladder in high heels, then kicked the ladder away letting it fall on someone else,” said Miller. “This is changing slowly but surely.”

Indeed this mentality is changing. The need for networking and expert advice is growing as more women advance in their careers.

Helping Women Build Camaraderie and Confidence

“Most women have few female colleagues the farther they get up the corporate ladder,” said Suzanne Doyle-Morris, author of Beyond the Boys Club and career development consultant. “Women want that group interaction and camaraderie.”

To meet the growing needs of professional women, Doyle-Morris launched a career development boot camp designed to help women advance in their careers. The boot camp includes lunchtime conference calls to discuss common issues and solutions that have worked for other like-minded women.

Doyle-Morris says that questions regarding career direction, finding internal advocates and getting opinions heard are frequently asked. Another common issue women deal with is exuding confidence in the workplace.

“Being confident is half the game,” she said. “There is usually no problem in the delivery of a presentation. It’s getting people to recognize the quality of the delivery.”

She also remarks that women come to her looking to gain credit for work they have already done or because they are seeking other opportunities as opposed to having opportunities come to them.

“It’s about taking your career now and getting it to the next level,” she said.

Connecting Mentors and Mentees Across the US

Another organization helping women advance is the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) providing a forum for networking, education and the exchanging of ideas. While the organization was launched in 2007, it already has 150,000 members and 30 local chapters based all over America.

In an effort to meet their member’s needs, the NAPW conducted a survey that determined women were looking for more networking opportunities and career advice. It launched a mentor/mentee program, a Craigslist-type bulletin board and a program called NAPW in the Studio, in which host Robin Dorian interviews influential businesswomen about the work/life balance.

When asked about career advancing initiatives, Nicole Johnson, managing director of member services and communications at the NAPW said, “We are looking at ways to help our members utilize their knowledge in the best possible way.”

Similar organizations dedicated to helping women advance include 85 Broads, 100 Women in Hedge Funds, and the Chicago Finance Exchange.

“It takes a really amazing manager to spot a diamond in the rough,” said Doyle-Morris. “Start polishing yourself and show off your sparkle.”