This past weekend Amber and I went on a lady’s retreat with 49 other women. We left on Thursday and came home on Saturday. We stayed in cabins of 4-6 people, and we participated in a variety of outdoor activities and development sessions. We spent 48 hours away and yet on Saturday right before we left to come home, Amber turned to me and said what I had been thinking, “How are you? I feel like we haven’t see each other all weekend!” It was true and hang on, because you might not like what I am about to say, I wouldn’t have it any other way! WHAT? Now that the headline has been dropped, let me explain the why.
Amber and I are business partners, and our families are close, so we keep in touch often and generally know what’s going on in each other’s lives. If I want to check in on her, I reach out call her, well maybe I text because she is a Millennial after all! The point is, I have her contact info and I can reach out anytime. Our ladies retreat was designed to help people reach out and get connected with other women and make new friends. I already have a relationship with Amber and while that relationship might be easier than getting to know a new person, that wasn’t the point of the event. Because we were intentional about engaging with new people, we had so many quality conversations with women about life, business, family, and faith. Regardless of where you stand on any of those issues, the conversation was real, insightful, and encouraging. I might even go so far as to say that because the conversations were with new friends, we heard new perspectives and learned things we might not have had we stuck together all weekend.
As I look back on this past weekend I want to encourage you to look at networking events, conferences, seminars, and retreats with a fresh perspective. If you think you are a leader in any area of life I want to challenge you for a minute.
Leaders are the ones who walk in the room and look for someone to connect with that they haven’t connected with before. Sure, you say hello to familiar faces, but once you have done that, you reach out to new faces. Are you doing this?
Leaders are eager to learn and learning from others through effective listening is one way they do it. Are you doing this?
Leaders engage and ask questions to better understand someone, who they are, and what they care about. Are you doing this?
Once a leader gets to know someone, they try to connect them to other people. Are you doing this?
When you attend an event whether to learn or connect, are you doing all four of the above? If you aren’t you are missing a HUGE opportunity to BE a leader. Leaders bring others along, and they are willing to get uncomfortable or dirty with their team in the name of a common purpose. If you attend an event and meeting new people isn’t your thing or you see events as a place to connect with old friends or colleagues, I would encourage you to put on a new perspective. Get uncomfortable and get to know others.
If you are a leader or person of influence it’s because others are drawn to you or want to learn from you.
Use that influence to propel relationships to places not yet seen.
Use it to connect deeply with others.
Use it to create a support system for others who have not YET realized their potential or who feel alone at the top of their game, (Yes, I’m talking mental health and finding people who will know you well enough to know you need support)!
Use your influence to mentor someone who needs your wisdom or perspective.
If you attend networking events, conferences, seminars, and retreats they are designed to teach you, inspire you, and sometimes celebrate you, BUT they are not ALL about you! Take what you need from the event but are you also Investing Back into others who might need what YOU have? A leader cuts new paths and goes into places others might not yet be ready for, but a leader never gets too far ahead of the team and they always ensure that no woman gets left behind! (See what I did there?) When you lead or influence, you need to keep sharp and inspired, connect with new people every chance you get because the new people you meet, might just be the sword that keeps you sharp or the light bulb that inspires you! -DM