For many women, it is affirming to be among a tribe of women who don’t need an explanation of how one feels or what the day-to-day battlefield is like because they already know. As Black Enterprise‘s Caroline Clarke said as she emphasized the necessary visibility we must have for each other at the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit this year, “I see you!”
Women that make the time to find their tribes of professional sisters have a competitive advantage and can also find spiritual restoration and mental rejuvenation.(Women of Power Summit 2014. Image: File)
Why Connections Are So Important
The feeling of being among your tribe is not simply about gathering for birthdays and Sunday brunches with your lifelong friends. Connecting and convening with your tribe is not only important in your personal life, but also in your professional life. Having a group of women who have walked similar walks, dreamed similar dreams, and faced similar professional barriers is just as important as the weekend sister-friend gathering. I say it is a matter of professional survival.
This is the value of gathering with tribes of black women in your professional domains. Whether you are a corporate maven, a scientist, an artist, or a pilot, there is a tribe of professional black women that exists; that need you to sow into them, just as you need them to sow into you. You may be saying, “I don’t have time to find my tribe”—my answer to you is you don’t have the luxury of not making the time.
The women that make the time to find their tribe of professional sisters have a competitive advantage.
Women of Power
Earlier this year, nearly 1,000 black business women gathered in Arizona for the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit. The women in attendance run the world in their day-to-day lives, but in this special and sacred place, it wasn’t about the power that you have, but the way in which you use your power to lift your fellow sisters up and open their next door of opportunity. It wasn’t about the title that you have, but affirming your fellow sister that their existence matters separate from any title they will ever have. It wasn’t about speaking about your successes, but validating the successes of your sisters and creating a moment to honor the work it took to achieve it. It wasn’t about bringing your ego in the door; it was about releasing ego while building collective pride among fellow boss women.
Create A HASU Moment
You may be wondering what a “HASU moment” is. Corporate phenom Cynthia Marshall blessed us with this term during her talk. It simply means “Hook A Sister Up.”
As the then-chief diversity officer of AT&T, she charged us with making it our responsibility to create these HASU moments for our fellow sisters. If we don’t, then who will? It is among your professional tribe that advice isn’t just shared, but collective covenants are created.
So ask yourself the following questions:
Have I defined my tribe?
Where do they convene?
What can I do to facilitate the gathering?
Who is in my tribe?
How do I engage more fully in my tribe?
Here is a list of the type of professional tribes to build:
These are the women who you can share your most personal vulnerabilities and insecurities with. This tribe doesn’t require you to ever mask any part of who you are. These women also know the intricacies of your life journey to date. They are able to have enough data points about your life to provide advice and counsel in a very nuanced and specific way. Membership in this type of tribe is tailored to high levels of trust, accessibility, and history.
These are the women that originate as professional relationships but serve as a link between your personal and professional worlds. They also all know each other. This is that group of women you see every year at conferences and grow closer with throughout the years. This is the group of women at your company that gather for lunch every month. Or perhaps the group of sorority sisters in your chapter that choose to hold each other accountable for their common vision board goals. This type of tribe has more frequent interactions and strategic accountability, but with a personal flair.
These are the women that are in common professional associations, frequent the same professional conferences, and are in common digital professional networks. These aren’t women in your daily interactions, but women that you have access to as a resource. These are women that you know support each other and are committed to each other’s success through consensus and common association. The beauty of this type of tribe is that it is a great pipeline for your intimate and micro tribe. Valuable and deep level relationships can emerge from this macro tribe if you invest in it and engage in a deliberate, frequent, and authentic manner. Remember, this isn’t about trying to “come up,” it is about aligning with women of similar experience, vision, and purpose.
These are the women that you may not be in the same network as but who still serve as a motivational force for you. It is that group of C-suite women that you don’t know, but model your career after. It is that group of local business owners that you don’t know personally, but you follow the success of their business. It is also that group of successful women that you respect from a far, but are too shy to make a cold introduction to. Today, I charge everyone to identify a group of women that you aspire to align with, and do something to further connect with these women.