Igniting Social Communities of Women Leaders

Young business woman in social network

Originally posted April, 2014  on Women’s Center for Leadership

For Women’s Center for Leadership (WCL), we are, at our core, all about community. Our mission is about our members.

 WCL is a consortium of professional women joined in developing leadership skills, sharing knowledge and building community in the Pacific Northwest.

I’ve been a member of WCL for about 10 years. My participation has evolved: from sporadically catching a monthly breakfast event at first, then attending more regularly as my daughter got older and could do more to get herself ready for school, and ultimately joining the WCL Board of Directors. I think many of our members have times when they are active, and times when they have to check out for a while to attend to other things. Many just do their best to stay in touch, even if it’s only reading the email updates and checking out a blog or two.  Having to make tradeoffs like this is just part of the reality for a lot of professional women.

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Sometimes You Have to Unplug to Connect

Relax

If your job is social media or working on a hot project or a project with executive visibility (or in my case, both), you are plugged in a lot – maybe even while brushing your teeth at night, flipping through your streams of communications. If you volunteer in the evenings or have kids on sports teams, you are plugged there too. It’s the only way you can keep all of that going. It’s modern life. Always being plugged in is how we communicate and stay in touch.

I am fortunate enough to work at a company that provides employees an amazing benefit – a two-month employee sabbatical every seven years. I took my second sabbatical this summer and it was great! It was great because I made some tough decisions on my plugged-in-ness. Although my job was going awesome and I was super motivated by my work, I did a full hand-off of all of my activities (and even used it as an opportunity to ditch some things that really weren’t high value). I handed off my duties at the non-profit and let everyone else who depends on me know I was going to be gone and truly not available. And I have to admit, I didn’t do all of the pre-unplugging planning that Baratunde Thurston did, as he documents in his article on unplugging, “Baratunde Thurston Leaves the Internet.” In fact, I just kind of told a few people, set out of office on my laptop, and walked out the door.

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You Are Irrelevant in Social Media: 7 Things to Do

Social media chart

Working in social media really puts you are out there. People you don’t know or ones haven’t met face to face can easily draw some assumptions about you, socially speaking, by doing a quick scan of your Twitter feed or checking out your Klout score. I learned this the hard way.

I had a colleague tell me he didn’t think I could lead a social media project because he had checked my Twitter feed and basically I was irrelevant. Ouch. But I respect this person. And while the criticism was harsh, there was truth within it. I asked myself whether I was I truly irrelevant (i.e., not adding value). Or was I not doing a good job communicating the value of what I do?

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