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The Power of Leadership and Connection: Lessons from the Conference

You can be a leader. You already are a leader.

These words of wisdom were heard from Keynote Speaker Dr. Betty Spence at the  First Annual DC EcoWomen Conference: “I’m Here, What’s Next? Building Your Sustainable Career.” Betty spoke to a roomful of women, full of infectious anticipation, about why women need equality in the workplace, and how they might get it.

Dr. Spence said that in her experience, women only want to bring other women up. We all face certain barriers, but we have a network of support to overcome them. This network is of utmost importance, especially in a city like Washington D.C.  The network can include mentors, sponsors, and even just acquaintances from networking happy hours.

Betty’s words coordinated well with the final event of the day:  a networking workshop with Suzy Mink, Director of Principal Gifts for the Mid-Atlantic region of The Nature Conservancy. Suzy touched on several things discussed in the Networking for Introverts post on our blog, and gave even more helpful tools and resources to help women excel at networking.

We were all there to support each other.  But one of the lessons learned that day was that women should not be afraid of the other side of that equation, to ask for favors – even from someone you’ve only just met. In order to create change and parity for women in the workplace, we need a network of support. This network has to start somewhere – someone has to ask first.

If you weren’t able to attend the conference, we’d like to provide you with some support!

Here are Dr. Spence’s 10 Strategies for Success:

  1. Perform beyond expectations – get things done before they are due, do more than what is asked

  2. Build expertise & credibility – make sure you’re getting experience that builds your skills

  3. Take the initiative – if there is an opportunity, don’t hesitate to jump for it

  4. Take risks, step outside of your comfort zone

  5. Diversify your experience. Learn the different parts of your field.

  6. Meet a Mentor. Some say mentors are key to success. In any case, they can only help.

  7. Get known. Talk about what you do, make your successes known.

  8. Find a Sponsor

  9. Network! Meeting people is the only way to break into some careers in D.C.

  10. Take responsibility for your career, own your strengths

Suzy Mink also left us with several insights on networking:

  1. Practice good etiquette

  2. Be willing to engage, to be the one extending a helping hand

  3. Persevere, be resilient in creating contacts

  4. Believe in yourself, be confident

  5. Talk about your aspirations – people like to hear what gets you excited!

  6. Listen. Ask questions that can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes or no.’

  7. Use the virtual world, whatever means you have, to keep in touch

  8. Anyone you meet can be helpful if you make the connection

At the end of the day, the EcoWomen were left with feelings of connection, excitement, and empowerment. That excitement was taken to McGinty’s for the networking happy hour, to practice the newly learned skills and discuss the workshops.

Stay tuned for more updates on the workshops themselves! And don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and make a new connection. You never know who could be the person to lead you to your dream job.


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