Digital is sort of a new world to me – but networking is not.
I walked into Vue on Liberty Street in the Brewery District at 8am this morning to go do what I do: network. However, I uncovered an unfamiliarity. I did not expect to experience the whirlwind of courage and vulnerability that I found in that venue this morning. Although unexpected—it was definitely welcome. As I reflected, three things became clear:
- This was not your ordinary networking situation
Don’t get me wrong. This looked, smelled, felt, and tasted like the normal “pass-out-business-card-shake-hands-smile-and-laugh-at-unfunny-jokes” situation. There were modestly sized mimosas, a spread of breakfast bars, nuts, fruit, and (obviously) all the coffee this addict could handle. Plenty of well-dressed women with “Hello, My Name Is” name tags were schmoozing. I felt comfortable in this space. This was a space I had done a million times.
So what made this different?
I sat down and prepared myself for, what I expected to be, the “YEAH women coming together!” speech from Alaina Shearer—but was quickly shut up. Instead, what I heard were real stories from Alaina’s personal journey of sexism, gender bias, stereotyping, and plain ol’ injustice. And I’m not talking about statistics that are sometimes hard to attach yourself to. I’m talking about recounts of real events from real businesses I was familiar with in our community. While this was uncomfortable to listen to, at first, I understood how important it was to not keep these things in the dark. Further—not to blanket them with “I know what you means,” and “I’ve been a victim of that stuff before, too.” It was important to air them out, scorch them with the blinding light of exposure, and make a plan to make them obsolete.
- This was not your ordinary “group”
Most “events” I attend want one of three things: my money, my membership, or my services. I was never asked to pay for anything, I was not pressured into “joining” Columbus Women in Digital, nor was I asked to write this blog. In fact, Alaina encouraged all of us to give their opinion on how this group should look and what it should evolve into. We were invited to fill out a survey and join an advisory board. It was unusual but wonderful to be respected enough to be included in the very beginning processes of what I could tell will become an amazing organization.
- These were EXTRAordinary women
But we already knew that, right?
We walked into the venue this morning with one thing unifying all of us: our occupations or career aspirations; this “digital” mindset that we all subscribed to. We left with a thicker, stronger bind tying us together. We were a collective—a sum of all of our stories and experiences—with a mission of counsel, fellowship, and social change in our industry.
To say that I’m excited to see where this organization goes, what it evolves into, and how many lives it impacts would not come close to describing my emotions. I’m thankful to have found it at its launch and committed to seeing it through to fruition.