It's no secret that women supporting one another is good not only for your career, but for your spirit. The benefits of connecting with other women in your career, and learning how to navigate a sisterhood are will stick with you forever.
In a study done by LinkedIn, where 1,000 professionals were surveyed, 82% of women said that having a mentor was important. We know that having a mentor is critical to anyone's career, but for women, having a female mentor is gold. And although we understand how important is it for women to build relationships with other women, and have a mentor, many actually don't have one. In fact, about one in five women have never had a mentor.
Building a sisterhood, connecting with like-minded women and getting a mentor are all a complex part of navigating a career when you're a woman. Even more critical when you're a woman of color. But how do you build and navigate a sisterhood in your career?
It all comes down to three components:
Building relationships. Building relationships is whats going to bring more opportunities, confidence and value to yourself. What does it mean to build a relationship with someone?
If you are trying to build a workplace sisterhood, try setting up meetings with the women to keep up with what's on each others plates, if she's in your department. If she isn't, casually set time periodically to go get coffee.
The thing about building relationships is that you have to understand the role you currently play in someone's life and career. If you they're senior to you, don't be bothersome, but instead see how you can help them out. If the woman is on the same level as you, try to make some more conversation when you pass in the halls or stop by her desk when things are slow.
Supporting other women. A little support goes a long way and it's going to make navigating your sisterhood a lot easier. When someone knows you support them, it'll make it that much easier for them to support, even if they're internet friends. Support can start online, but it should extend to real life connections. It takes nothing to retweet something, but it does take effort to show up to an event and show you care.
When it comes to women who are already in your circle, or women who you'd like to connect with, visibility matters. Make yourself visible by consistently showing up for them and being clear you're in their corner.
How is this going to help you? When you're supporting someone you don't know yet, you're making yourself more familiar by always being there. This makes it easier to write an email expressing your interest in an informational interview, being a guest on your podcast or even meeting up at the next event in your industry.
Support is a major part of navigating sisterhood in your career because you can't build one if you don't value it in the first place.
Finding a mentor. This is the hard part. At what point in a relationship can you call someone a mentor? Do you formally ask someone? Do you have to know the woman already?
The answer is, if you appropriately support and build a relationship with someone, you'll never have to ask these questions anymore. If a woman you go get coffee with gives you advice in life and career or shares her experiences with you, she may already consider herself a mentor.
Many confuse a mentor with a sponsor or even a therapist but they are very different. A sponsor is someone who already believes in your ability, and will present you with new opportunities. A mentor is who you'll go to for advice on how to secure that opportunity.
Mentor - mentee relationships are best when they happen naturally, but that doesn't mean they can't happen intentionally. Impress your potential mentor like you would try to impress your boss and give them a reason to allow you in their space. If you have to intern for them, do it. If you have to volunteer at their events until a relationship is established, go for it.
The key to navigating a sisterhood in your career is building authentic relationships, and being the supportive woman that you would like someone else to be.
What tips do you have about navigating a sisterhood in your career?