Everyone has a network around them, but how do we harness that community to empower each other and ourselves? In 2017, I launched Boss Babes WV, a collective-event series promoting social empowerment for self-identified women.
One of the goals of Boss Babes is to help women identify and achieve their aspirations, whether they want to create a side hustle or run for office or explore their own personal well being.
Boss Babes does this by creating a safe community environment for women to learn from each other and share their stories in a supportive setting. We facilitate a connectedness not often felt outside of immediate friend circles for women craving conversation and low-key networking to help open community pathways between local economic partners and individuals.
If you’re thinking about cultivating your own community of boss babes, here are some Do’s and Dont’s I’ve learned along the way:
DO: Define your purpose.
DON’T: Be everything to everyone.
Be decisive from the get go to define your purpose, maintain focus, and keep your community events on track. Ask yourself these questions: What is your reason for being? What do you want to become and what does the path for getting there look like? What is your brand’s personality/voice? What is the desired end result? How are you different and what can you offer? What type of experience will best convey your values? How will you measure success?
Narrow your focus when defining your purpose. It’s helpful to look at similar groups or events for inspiration, but it’s vital to understand your audience and be exactly what you need to be. Limit your target audience, and stay true to yourself. Want to be political? Go for it, but find a way to do so respectfully and inclusively. Be mindful of the intersectionality of your event.
DO: Have a solid team of people.
DON’T: Be afraid to ask for what you want.
Building a strong system of advisers and mentors that you trust is key to success, because you can’t do everything on your own. Whether your team provides emotional support or resources, they remind you of the big picture and help nudge you towards where you need to be. Surround yourself with people smarter than you. An accountability partner with a weekly scheduled check-in aids in prioritization, keeps you focused on short and long term goals, and gives you honest feedback.
Whether it’s a helping hand or a new opportunity, you likely aren’t going to get something if you don’t ask for it. Use your resources. Most of my friends know at some or many points in life, I will ask them for help. What are friends for? When you often put yourself out there, you learn that the answer won’t always be yes, and that’s okay. Know your worth and confidently make your request.
DO: Plan to fail.
DON’T: Fail to plan.
Assume something will go wrong. At my first event, the first speaker cancelled 15 minutes before she was due to go on. Something inevitably will go wrong, but it’s how you set the tone in your reaction that makes or breaks the hiccup. Prepare “just in case” implementation actions so you have a plan if you veer off course.
From creating brand guides to setting performance metrics, intentional planning will save you an enormous amount of time. Make sure the same handle for social media is available on all platforms and websites for continuity. Figure out your hashtag. For community event planning, make sure to be aware of permits and zoning laws. Document as much as you can – from hex codes to sign-in sheets to passwords. Plan how you will collect data for post event analysis (I love Google Drive and Google Forms and Mailchimp).
DO: Be a facilitator.
DON’T: Lose your voice.
Community events aren’t about you. Most event planners I know are behind-the-scenes people and hate public speaking. They wanted something to happen, so they made it happen. They are facilitators. Tips for effective facilitating: decide your leadership style, create an inclusive environment, be upfront and clear about your intentions and expectations, keep discussions and speakers encouraging.
Get out of your own way. Let go of all the “stuff” – anxiety, doubt, inner voices and fears. The fear of failure for a new project or event is real, but you can’t succeed if you don’t try.
DO: Get it done
You’re never going to be entirely ready for anything. If you want something to happen, and a collective to exist, make it happen. Lean on the people you trust, be confident in your ideas. Don’t stop doing what you’re doing until you’re proud of it … and then keep going.
Kayla Young spends her days running around like a wild person. She was the woman behind both Charleston WV and Mid-Ohio Valley Restaurant Week. Kayla went to West Virginia University where she studied Political Science and Public Relations. She is a Charleston, WV resident and lives with her two kids, Milo & Zella. She farms lavender with the Green Mining Model Business Program in her free time. She’s trying to make a difference in West Virginia, one babe at a time. To learn more about Boss Babes WV and to find out about their next event, check out Facebook or send an email to Kayla at BossBabesWV@gmail.com.
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