Watch the video we just created for Women Catalysts, a community for women who want to get ahead without losing their heart.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “networking”?
What pops into my head is a giant slab of strangers — one that requires a deep breath and a mini pep talk with myself before I can approach it. Or the weird way I try to look like I'm headed somewhere important whenever I arrive at a networking event, bobbing and weaving through circles of people while still desperately searching for an entry point with minimal awkwardness.
In other words, if you're like I am, you know that networking has its sucky sides.
One day two wonderful women were discussing said suckiness in a San Francisco park and eventually uttered the statement that kicks off so many worthwhile journeys: "We should do something about it." And do something they did.
I stumbled upon Women Catalysts through a random Internet encounter one evening while link-jumping on Eventbrite.
A few nights later I found myself amid pool tables and adorable dogs in Weebly's impressive basement for WC's monthly gathering — a networking event like none I'd ever attended.
"We don't even really consider ourselves a 'networking' group in the traditional sense," Co-Founder Lindsay Jean Thomson later told me. "We're an actual community."
Women Catalysts events are a unique hybrid of a lively party game, a powerful church service, and a no-holds-barred fireside chat.
After wine-pouring, of course, they commence with something called "guided networking": attendees flutter about the room exchanging conversation partners in speed-dating style while discussing questions such as "What makes you feel alive?" instead of the standard, elevator-pitch-inducing "So what do you do?"
Later, a local female powerhouse takes the floor to share stories of how she got to where she is. Unlike other professional meetups I've attended, the speaker doesn't boil down the path to success into a well-scripted lecture with a gimmicky workshop title.
Instead, she talks off the cuff, answering live questions from the co-founders and audience on the highs, lows, and in-between complexities that come with taking bold action to make good shit happen in the world.
Every time the space feels sacredly authentic and full of fearless inspiration.
The fact that all of the ticket proceeds are donated to a different charity each month only amplifies the effect.
The night ends with a passing of the microphone. Anyone with something to celebrate — no matter how big or small — is welcome to share a #win with a built-in team of supporters.
Remember those walled-off circles of people that I was so worried about penetrating before? Not an issue here, my friends. Everyone's in this circle, and I can personally vouch that it's an amazing one to be in.