Consistency. Passion. Dependability. Worth. Vision. Energy.
These words reflect traits women shared as they described how they see themselves when they are doing their best. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to co-host a workshop about how personal branding contributes to professional confidence. The workshop was structured as a roundtable discussion so that all participants, including hosts, had equal voices and were able to steer conversation towards points of interest. 9 women – with backgrounds in everything from personal accounting to cosmetology – sat at the table and allowed themselves to be remarkably vulnerable about their professional obstacles. As the conversation unfolded, the participants began to realize that all of their fears and feelings were shared by other members of the group and there are many paths to the same conclusion. I was so inspired by the connections these women made for themselves and at how empowered they expressed feeling by sharing their personal and professional doubts in a safe space.
The purpose of this structured networking event was to directly fill a gap in Lexington and the larger professional realm for millennials seeking to make meaningful connections. Structured networking eliminates that awkward business card fumbling and prompts meaningful conversation by guiding topics of discussion and probing for participation from all attendees. Further, activities are creative and lighthearted, but allow attendees to leave with crafted responses backed by the support of other participants who reaffirm their ideas. This event was made that more special by vendors who made it possible to provide our attendees with parting gifts as well as good food + wine to supplement the conversation.
After the conversation ended, I reflected on the discussion feeling both exhausted and inspired. It is certainly a challenge functioning as both a host and participant to digest all of the points of discussion. Still, I believe women left the round table with new professional colleagues and even friends rather than the strangers they arrived as. Not only did these women identify strong commonalities in their experiences despite differing industries, but they also expressed how they stepped far out of their comfort zones to attend and were willing to return for another topic. I am so fortunate to have women believe in my ability to organize and facilitate so that we could have a full table of participants. Further, I am so appreciative of our special vendors who contributed services and gifts to make the day that much more memorable. My sweet sister, who captured the event perfectly from behind her camera, said there were dozens of times she wanted to dive right into the conversation as a participant and that she can’t wait to attend the next one herself. It speaks volumes that an observer feels compelled to participate in these conversations because they are authentic and so commonplace. I’m looking forward to organizing future events so that men and women professionals alike in my area can have further spaces to learn, discuss and overcome industry obstacles.
Thanks to our special vendors:
Shirts | 7 Ink Studio
Photography | 2137 Media
Charcuterie Platters | Whole Foods Lexington
Inspirational Quote | Pretty Strange Design
Venue | Hamburg Farms
Organizing Co-Host | Pare and Flourish