I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the type of woman who just genuinely wants to help other women succeed. Honestly, at first I didn’t trust it. I am so used to watching my back and questioning others’ intentions: I couldn’t believe that she just wanted to help me. Not only did she send a personal and complimentary referral letter to somebody for me, but she also sent me a list of other similar contact she had worked long and hard to research and scrounge up, and her tips on how to best get in touch with them. In a second, she just gave me the information that it must have taken her days to gather. She passed on her progress, to me, asking nothing in return. I eventually learned why she did this: other women, like her, helped her get to where she is. I suppose she was paying it forward (or back?) Either way, it got me thinking about all of the ways women could collaborate more.
Notify each other of opportunities
If you become aware of a great opportunity that several women you know would be viable candidates for, send it to them all. Don’t look at them as competition. Think of it this way: the person giving out the opportunity needs more female applicants. So help there be more female applicants, and you’ll help push women forward.
The best woman will win, and help you
The best woman for the job will get it. Maybe it will be you. But if it isn’t you, the one who did will remember that you were gracious enough to share the opportunity with others. If she can help you later, she will.
Hire one another when we can
If you have a position to fill, actively seek out qualified female applicants. It devastates me when companies with predominantly male employees or mostly men in high-up positions say, “We just didn’t get many female applicants.” Change that script. Don’t just interview those who find you on their own: think of great women you know and invite them to apply.
Or refer each other
Refer the heck out of each other. Start keeping a list of women you know, and what their expertise are. Have that in the back of your mind, so when anyone asks for a referral for an accountant/social media strategist/interior decorator/you name it, you can check your list.
Share your hard-earned contacts
If you have to search long and hard to gather information that would be useful to other women, don’t hog that information. Share it. If you had to research for hours to gather the names and contact information of companies looking to hire more women—or something like that—blast that list to the great women you know.
Share your wisdom
Are you an expert in something? Share your wisdom with other women. Offer to put together a gathering at which you’ll speak about the topic you’re an expert in. It’s both a form of self-promotion and a generous act towards women who want to know what you know.
Announce interesting events
When you learn of an event that could be beneficial to women—perhaps it’s an educational lecture, a free class, or a networking event—blast that information to all of the great women you know. Again, don’t keep that information to yourself, seeing other women as competition. Think of bringing more women into every industry and helping women, as a whole, get further. That’s a win for you, too.
Promote each other
If a woman asks you to let others know about something she’s created, and you genuinely like what she has created, tell others about it. Post about a friend’s book or film or company. You don’t only have to promote yourself. In fact, if you promote the work of others, it helps your audience trust you more when you do promote yourself. They know your ultimate goal is to put quality content out there.
Give any favor you can
If someone asks you for a favor, see if you can pull it off. Jump immediately into can-do mode. Maybe you can’t even do her that favor, but you can do something close. Even if she simply wants you to interview her friend or family member for a job you’re hiring for. You don’t have to give that person the job, but you can give the interview.
Even small favors count
Even tiny favors count. Remember that what feels like a small favor to you can be a huge favor to the person asking. If you have 20,000 Instagram followers and your friend with just 1,000 asks you to share her post, it takes a second for you to do, and can hugely impact her life.
Create a network across the country
Help women across the country get in touch. If you live in New York, and you know of a colleague traveling to California where you know another woman in your field, put them in touch. When the woman in California comes to New York, she’ll instantly know one more person, and making inroads won’t feel as intimidating. You can slowly build a network of women helping each other out, across the country.
Perhaps across the world
If we can spread this collaboration across the world, even better. In fact, there are certainly countries outside of the US that aren’t as encouraging of powerful women. It can be good for professional women in those countries to make contacts with American women traveling there. Put them in touch with our bad*ss energy. Let them know if they come here, there’s a network for them. Embolden them, even if their own culture doesn’t.
Invest in female-run businesses
If you have a little money to invest, and are interested in getting into the personal loan game, ask your wealth management company to present you with options of female-run businesses. That’s an investment you can feel good about.
Or promote crowdfunding
If you cannot afford to invest in a woman’s business, use the power of social media and your email list to help her crowd fund. If you truly believe in something a woman is doing, do whatever you can to get the word out there and help her succeed.
Introduce one another to allies
If you know of male allies who are all about pushing women forward, sing their praises to your network. Make sure all of your female associates know of all of the men at every company and in every industry who want to help women.