Meaning of the Red Shoes for The Red Shoe Movement

Would you like to know the meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement? We know there are various connotations for red shoes in different areas and cultures. Let’s discover together the mystery of the red shoes and their secret power.

First we’ll take a brief journey through the history of red shoes. Then I will tell you how the red shoes became the emblem of the Red Shoe Movement. Next, I will share with you what they mean for members and organizations that use our Step Up Plus (our leadership development program.) And finally, I will tell you the meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement and their role as change agents through our campaign #RedShoeTuesday.

Is only natural that with a leadership development company called Red Shoe Movement and a cultural awareness campaign called Red Shoe Tuesday, I’m constantly being asked: What’s the meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement?

The meaning of the red shoes: A brief journey through History

Louis XIV red heels. At the time, only aristocratic men were allowed to wear red heels.

Louis XIV red heels. At the time, only aristocratic men were allowed to wear red heels.

In the XVII and XVIII centuries, under Louis XIV, only aristocratic men had the right to wear red heels. At the time, red ink came from grinding a red insect imported from Mexico, which made it extremely expensive. This clearly separated the haves and the have-nots. Naturally, red heels went out of fashion with the arrival of the French Revolution.
Two hundred years later, Hans Christian Andersen wrote “The Red Shoes.” This story talked about Karen, a poor girl who, after her mother’s death, is adopted by an elderly, blind woman. One day Karen discovers a pair of red shoes peaking from under the dress of a princess and she’s overcome by the desire to own a pair. Unable to resist her vanity, she gets her adoptive mother (who can’t see the color) to buy her red shoes. Against the orders of the clergy in her church, Karen wears them for her Confirmation and her Communion eliciting negative feelings in the community.

Red Shoes Hans Christian Andersen story

Red Shoes Hans Christian Andersen story

Those red shoes become her obsession and her demise. Once she puts them on, Karen starts dancing frenetically and is unable stop. With a life of their own, the shoes take her into the woods and end up getting her all scratched and hurt. Eventually, exhausted and bloody, Karen ends up in front of the door of the town’s executioner. As punishment for her sins, Karen asks the executioner to cut off her feet and shoes rather than her head. So he does and the feet with the red shoes fly away. The story continues for a bit but the moral seems to be that the red shoes symbolize some obscure desire, the vain nature of Karen, which at the time was considered a big sin.

The magical red shoes of Wizard of Oz

The magical red shoes of Wizard of Oz

For you, however, it’s likely that the meaning of the red shoes is closely associated with the Wizard of Oz. In the movie, the magical shoes that help Dorothy return home are red. It’s safe to say that every girl who watched Judy Garland click her heels was left with the impression that red shoes are powerful and magical.

The birth of the red shoes as the Red Shoe Movement emblem

The movement was born out of my book Find Your Inner red Shoes. This work is an invitation for every woman to find her own definition of success so that she can better align her internal motivations with her professional goals and grow faster as a result.

We were looking for an image for the cover that would link the concept of success with women. Thinking about the connections with assertiveness, magic and power of the red shoes, I realized there couldn’t be a better symbol for a movement of women who support each other to fulfill their dreams.

Red Shoe Movement event at Tesoro Corporation

Red Shoe Movement event at Tesoro Corporation

Renowned journalists Maria Elena Salinas and Blanca Rosa Vilchez support #RedShoeTuesday

Renowned journalists Maria Elena Salinas and Blanca Rosa Vilchez support #RedShoeTuesday

Meaning of the red shoes for our Step Up Plus program members and RSM enthusiasts

The impact of red shoes in corporations that are agents of change

The meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement

In the book I suggest that women identify their inner red shoe. Meaning: their passions and interests, which lead to better alignment with career goals. The focus is on following these objectives while honoring one’s style. I discourage women from emulating somebody else’s style, particularly that of the men in their organizations. The red shoes enable each one to express their power with a feminine style.

The meaning of the red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement is power with femininity.

We know that there are areas in the world were red shoes have a different connotation. But the idea of using this symbol is to reclaim it as an icon of the power and style that distinguishes each woman.

Event with Lola Ramona, one of Red Shoe Movement's sponsors

Event with Lola Ramona, one of Red Shoe Movement’s sponsors

Red shoes as propellers of change: #RedShoeTuesday

One of the main motivations to write the book was to help accelerate the representation of women at the highest levels of decision-making. For decades, and despite Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in large corporations and governmental organizations, the needle has refused to move. I knew that part of my contribution to this change would be this book. But I also knew that a book was not enough. We needed a movement that could elicit a quantum leap in global consciousness.

I searched for solutions that had attained immediate results on issues that had remained intractable for years. Problems that seemed to have no solution. Inspired by several ideas that had changed the lives of millions of people overnight, I created #RedShoeTuesday.

#RedShoeTuesday— A cultural and social awareness campaign, establishes one day a week when we all go to work with red shoes and ties to signal our support for women’s career growth. It’s a visual reminder that enables us to keep alive the conversation about how to change the culture and find solutions so that women can access the highest positions. It’s a fun, actionable, and viral idea at the intersection of self-empowerment and fashion.

We backed the campaign with:

  • 7 behavioral principles that anyone can implement in their workplace to change the culture. (Here’s the free Guide to Implement the 7 RSM Principles so you can put them in action now!)
  • The RSM Circles, mutual-mentoring circles that are set up in workplaces so women can support each other’s professional growth. (You can find out more about our programs here)
  • A practical blog with inspiring and practical content.

The campaign is an invitation for men and women to work side by side, as co-creators of a new reality that will benefit society as a whole. Leaving all traits of blame or resentfulness aside. It’s a great way to expand and reinforce networks that promote mutual support among women so that we everyone amplifies their influence and their ability to continue innovating and learning together. The good news is that many studies show that the more diversity in an organization’s executive positions and its board of directors, the better the organization does.

The same is true when societies invest in their girls and women. The result is the ripple effect. Why? Because women invest in their family’s education and health, which produces future generations better equipped to deal with the challenges of our times. Better-educated people have a better quality of life.

Idea Catalyst supports the meaning of red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement

Idea Catalyst supports the meaning of red shoes for the Red Shoe Movement

What is the meaning of the red shoes in your corner of the world? And what do they mean to you?

Tell us! Let us know what the red shoes mean to you. How do they make you feel? What do they inspire you to do?

Together we can change prejudices and perceptions so that around the world we get to own the symbol of the red shoes.

Men wear red shoes to show support for career growth of women

Men wear red shoes to show support for career growth of women

The meaning of red shoes for The Red Shoe Movement

The meaning of red shoes for The Red Shoe Movement

Innovative packaging helps manage women’s periods at work

Cora has designed a chic and smart packaging to help manage women’s periods at work. Never again hide a tampon up your sleeve on your way to the bathroom! Their sleek black clutch could be a cosmetics case. And with a 100%  organic product, there’s one less stress factor to worry about at work!

Molly Hayward, founder of Cora, a company that offers an innovative method to take care of women's periods

Molly Hayward, founder of Cora, a company that offers an innovative packaging to help manage women’s periods

Meet Molly Hayward, the female founder of Cora. As in, yes, there’s also a male founder. When I first heard about a company focused on how to manage women’s periods with a 100% organic product wrapped in the most stylish packaging I’ve ever seen, I was struck by the co-founders. A man and a woman who, as I’d learn later, didn’t know each other before they got into business together. Today we interview Molly to find out what inspired her to create a product to better manage women’s periods wherever they happen to be. We then talk about the stress connected to women’s periods at work and we ask her about what it took to get investors to buy into such a female-oriented idea.

Molly is a young entrepreneur with a strong social conscience. She practices business with soul. In the last ten years, her travels through five continents became the springboard for her interest in how to manage women’s periods. The seed of a brilliant idea for Cora, a business that favors the circular economy. A business that helps professional women manage “that time of the month” fearlessly, openly, and with style.

I’m sure you didn’t grow up thinking, “When I grow up I’ll found a company focused on how to manage women’s periods.” How did you stumble upon this as a need?

The idea for Cora originated from my travels throughout the developing world, meeting girls who were missing days of school each month because they couldn’t access or afford safe and effective menstrual products. I had the idea to create a brand and a company that could offer women in my own society a better period experience, while also helping girls in need.

For too long women's periods have been a source of stress at work. Molly Hayward is set to change that!

For too long women’s periods have been a source of stress at work. Molly Hayward is set to change that!

What’s different about the product itself?

Cora offers only 100% organic tampons, made from premium cotton. This is vastly different from conventional tampons, which are made from non-organic cotton (one of the dirtiest crops in the world) and synthetics like rayon and polyester (which have been linked to higher risk of toxic shock syndrome.)

Cora is also one of the first companies in the U.S. to offer an organic tampon in a compact plastic applicator (BPA free.)

Is there any research regarding the stress at work women feel due to the stigma surrounding women’s periods?

Research in this area has been primarily focused on the effects of stress in the workplace on women’s menstrual cycles, as opposed to our menstrual cycle’s contribution to stress at work. But there’s no denying that the workplace isn’t always the easiest place to easily manage our periods. From shoving tampons up our sleeves to walking to the bathroom from our desks to forgetting tampons altogether to the anxiety of wondering if we are leaking through our pants in the middle of a meeting, periods definitely bring stress into our working lives.

That’s why Cora created high-performing organic tampons, as well as accessories for stylishly and discreetly storing and carrying them whether you’re at home, the office, or out on the town.

How much are people attracted to the product because of the chic packaging that looks like cosmetics and jewelry cases? Do you think this contributes to a more seamless work-life integration?

Cora's products chic packaging makes it easy to manage women's periods at work. Gone are the days when you had to hide your tampon on the way to the bathroom.

Cora’s products chic packaging makes it easy to manage women’s periods at work. Gone are the days when you had to hide your tampon on the way to the bathroom.

I think the sophistication of Cora’s brand and products makes women feel confident at work—a place where we all want to feel more confident. We want women to feel like wherever they are, they can manage their periods without fear or shame.

You met your business partner while seeking investors, right? How did it happen? Did you think that a man would be a good partner for a company selling a product for women’s periods?

Yes! We were introduced by a mutual colleague. She knew that we were both working on similar concepts independently and suggested we meet. After our first conversation, we knew we would work together because our value around organic products, sophisticated design, and giving back to women and girls in need.

Walk us through the process of getting funding for an idea. What did you need to show your investors in order to receive your first round of funding? And how hard was it to get funding for a product that dealt with women’s periods?

With unique packaging like this black clutch, Cora makes it easy to carry your supplies as any of your other accessories, reducing stress at work.

With unique packaging like this black clutch, Cora makes it easy to carry your supplies as any of your other accessories, reducing stress at work.

Early on, we showed investors the positive data and reviews from our early Beta customers, and shared our future vision for the brand and everything we were doing to prepare and execute to make the vision a reality. We laid out our plan and showed where we’d already accomplished goals.

Can you share any negotiation strategies that you used during the meetings with investors to get to a Yes?

For us, it’s never been about negotiating. When seeking funding, we bring investors into the story and mission of Cora. We show them the negative experience that women currently have because other brands on the market don’t actually solve the pain points of having a period. When they consider the magnitude of the problem, it becomes a logical decision to join us.

You can find out more about Cora via social media:

Instagram: @corawomen

Twitter: @corawomen

Facebook: www.facebook.com/corawomen

Skills and Talents of Pianist Make for Great Perfumer

So many of us grew up thinking that you need to have specific skills and talents to enter a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.) That unless you are a nerd with a highly analytical and logical mind, you couldn’t enter the field. Today we interview a mother and daughter who prove our assumption wrong.

For the past 24 years, Judith (Jude) Hollingshead has developed perfumes for Olay, Pantene, Herbal Essence, Fabreze, Pampers and other P&G brands. Mind you, there are only around a thousand perfumers in the world.

Judith Hollingshead had the skills and talents of a pianist. She ended up studying Chemistry and entering a career as a perfumer.

Judith Hollingshead had the skills and talents of a pianist. She ended up studying Chemistry and entering a career as a perfumer.

When I first met her I was curious about what skills and talents are required to be a perfumer and how does someone even decide to become one. The answer surprised me and I wanted to share it with you. See, Jude is not the stereotypical nerd most of us imagine would choose chemistry as a career plan. She was a piano player who studied Chemistry and became a perfumer. And most of it happened because someone saw skills and talents in her that she didn’t yet see.

Because she was always curious and willing to try new things she explored the possibilities presented by others and has had an incredibly successful career as a result. Along the way she has raised, as a single mother, two children. Her daughter Shealyn, a very artistic child, is now finishing her sophomore year as a student of Chemical Engineering at Ohio University – Russ School of Engineering. We talk to both of them about their unusual experience.

Skills and talents required for the job

MD- You are currently a perfumer at P&G. What skills and talents does your job require?

Judith Hollingshead in the P&G lab

Judith Hollingshead in the P&G lab

JH- Perfumery is a blend of Art and Science. A perfume is made up of a blend of

100’s of individual ingredients. A perfumer needs to understand how the ingredients’ smell and how they blend together to form specific odor. For example, an orange is made of materials XYZ, and an Apple is made up of materials ABYZ. A perfumist needs to understand how all the 1000’s of materials smell and how to combine them to achieve a specific and pleasant odor.

So the skill necessary to become a perfumist is, first and foremost, an excellent sense of smell. Another skill that is a close second in importance is the joy of smelling, and desire to constantly want to push out on the boundaries of what is possible. Most perfumers are never satisfied with the perfumes they make, they are constantly working on making them better.

MD- Did you grow up wanting to be a perfumer?

JH- I grew up in the Midwest in the USA. I had a very traditional family. My mother was a stay at home mom who managed the family and my father was a banker

Some of the most important skills and talents Judith Hollingshead transferred from being a talented pianist into chemistry were her perseverance and drive to achieve perfection in her work.

Some of the most important skills and talents Judith Hollingshead transferred from being a talented pianist into chemistry were her perseverance and drive to achieve perfection in her work.

with a 9-5 job. I was not even aware that the career of perfumer was a possibility. In fact, I grew up not even thinking about having a “career” because I did not have very many role model females in my life for this. Throughout my childhood I studied piano, and as I got into my teen years I began to think about what I would do for the rest of my life. Since piano was such an integral part of my life it made sense that continuing to study music, specifically as a performance major in college, would be my course of action. And I pursued that thru about my senior year in High school. It was that year, that my High School Chemistry/ Physics teacher approached me to discuss my high aptitude for Chemistry, Math and Physic. And encouraged me to investigate this as career and major in College.

I am always up to trying new ideas so I began to investigate this direction as an alternative. I found the world of science that year and while I still play piano today and love classical music, I have never regretted becoming a scientist/Perfumer!

We can help you explore your interests and passions at any level of your career! Sign up for our Step Up Program!

MD- Which of the skills and talents needed to be a concert pianist could you transfer to a career in Chemistry?

JH- The most important skill that transfers from music performance to chemistry/perfumery is hard work, tenacity and the pursuit of perfection

As a performer you must work hard and practice constantly to get a piece to perfection. This is the same for perfume experiments. We are constantly reworking the blend of ingredients to make the perfume the most perfect execution of the idea that we have in our head.

Both represent a sensorial experience. A piano performance is an auditory sensory experience and a perfume is an olfactive sensory experience. And both should give the receiver of the experience a sense of pleasure and enjoyment.

Sometimes people see in you things you still don't. The interviewer at P&G saw in Judith's extra curricular activities something they were looking for. A creative person with a hard science background.

Sometimes people see in you things you still don’t. The interviewer at P&G saw in Judith’s extra curricular activities something they were looking for. A creative person with a hard science background.

MD- What exactly did you think you’d do in this field?

JH- My high school teacher was a huge influence to help me understand I had an aptitude for the hard sciences and the job opportunities that were available.

I realized that while I could always have music with me, that science was a new pursuit I would have to learn.

In college, I fully immersed myself into my science studies, I was not sure what I wanted to do, but as I went to Graduate school to pursue my doctorate, I started working in the area of superconductors and semi –conductors. This was an emerging area, and I loved the research.

It was only after I finished graduate school and started to investigate potential companies that the idea of becoming a perfumer became an option.

Definition of perfumer

Definition of perfumer

As part of the job placement services at Iowa State University, our resumes are posted for recruiting companies to review and request interviews.   Procter and Gamble chose me to interview. I had no intention of seriously considering working for P&G because they did not do work research in the area I had focused on in my studies. I was frankly surprised that they even wanted to interview me.

The interview took a strange turn as the interviewer did not ask me about my research or my work in chemistry, as was the case with all my other interviews. He continually probed me on the hobbies I listed on my resume: playing piano and needlework.

I finally asked him about this and he told me that P&G was interested in someone with a strong scientific background and with a strong interest, skills and talent in artistic, creative endeavors. He explained the job of perfumers, and I was immediately intrigued by the idea of being able to use both my creative, artistic side and my technical work. I loved the idea so much I took the chance and shifted my career to perfumery.

Here's a post about an orthopedic surgeon "I find my passion in the most unexpected places."

Like mother like daughter

MD- Shealyn, you are finishing your sophomore year in college. You’re studying Chemical Engineering but you also have the skills and talent to follow an artistic career. What made you decide to give engineering a shot?

Shealyn Holligshead

Shealyn Holligshead

SH- My mom was very persistent in showing me that I would exceed in my academic endeavors as a woman in STEM even though she knew I would be successful in the art field. What really persuaded me to turn my attention to STEM was that she showed me a Ted Talk by Debbie Sterling about a woman in the engineering field. This Ted Talk was about how Debbie created a children’s toy for young girls that will inspire them to build and create like most boy toys that are currently sold today. Her point was that most girl toys, like Barbie’s, teach girls at a young age to focus on building relationships not physical things.

Deb’s talk discussed her struggle to get through school as a woman in STEM, and then on getting her toy design to the market. This Ted Talk really caught my attention, and I decided that I should give STEM a shot because I have the creative ability to innovate. I just needed to apply this ability to a more advanced curriculum to create/innovate more practical inventions that I believe can have a larger impact on the world.

MD- Jude, what are some of the aspects of your career that you love the most?

JH- In my job I get to develop a perfume that is used by millions of consumers. I consider myself very lucky to be able to touch peoples live and make them more enjoyable. I love the ability to work on perfume design for our products. A tremendous amount of effort goes into making sure the right perfume gets combined with the right product at P&G. In addition to that, in other parts of my job, I get to also work on technical upstream research this allows me to use my technical scientific talents. I have the best of both worlds.

Skills and talents needed to enter a career in STEM

MD- From your own individual experiences, what recommendations do you have for young women and their mothers regarding careers in STEM? Do people need to have a specific set of skills and talents or should a wider range of women give careers in STEM a try?

JH- Having a career in the STEM field can be exceptionally rewarding and I believe we need more women to bring their viewpoints to the problems of today. So many women are brought up to believe that they are nurturing, caring or creative and that this is the direct opposite of STEM. It is a misconception that STEM careers require highly logical and analytical mindsets. In reality, we need MORE highly Creative people to be trained in STEM to develop new Inventions and solve today’s problems in NEW and CREATIVE ways.

If you have creative skills and talents you (or your child) may find great satisfaction in a STEM career. Make sure to explore the possibilities!

If you have creative skills and talents you (or your child) may find great satisfaction in a STEM career. Make sure to explore the possibilities!

Another post on finding your passion with your nose you'll love.

SH- When I talk to young women who are considering going into the STEM field, the first thing they ask is, “how hard is the schooling and the work?” It took me aback the first few times I heard this because I never considered this when I chose Chemical Engineering. Maybe this was because my mom is a woman in STEM and my whole life I saw how possible it was to succeed in this field. I never considered the difficulty. But being asked this many times has given me the chance to really consider how to answer this question. It has led me to my most common recommendation for young women:

Whatever you choose to do for your education and/or work life is going to be difficult whether it is STEM or not. It is going to take a lot of work and effort to be successful in any field you choose. So, if you are interested in STEM fields, go for it!

My experience has been that every class I have taken has been nothing but foreign and intimidating to me. The only way to get through it is to just apply yourself and do the work. Eventually, it won’t be so foreign and intimidating. After working thru a class for 15 weeks, by the end, you will be close to mastering the material if you put in the work. I strongly believe that a wider range of women should give STEM a try, especially if you have any interest in science, math or technology.

I would never recommend it, however, to someone who has no interest in these topics.

 

You can connect with Jude Hollingshead via email at Hollingshead.JA@pg.com or on Linkedin: Judith Hollingshead.

She shares her artistic endeavors (weaving, sewing quilts, knitting and other lace making techniques) on her Instagram: Judeh22

You can reach Shealyn Hollingshead at: ShealynHollingshead@gmail.com or on Linkedin under Shealyn Hollingshead.

 

Women Dress Code Decoded, Business Casual Dos and Don’ts

When the invite for that office activity requires “Business Casual” dress code, it doesn’t mean “dress as comfy as you want.” And as much as you would love to wear your beloved 2003 oversized jeans, when it comes to business, it is important to keep things professional. Starting with your outfit.

Do not mistake, however, business casual for boring casual. This is a dress code that intends to relax the formality of a business suit and allows you to dress more comfortable, but still professional. So yes, you can wear some color, take some fashion risks, and add your own personality to your business casual outfit.

Business Casual dress code, clothes and accesories in red and white

When it comes to dress code “business casual” consider a look with vintage flare – Photo: Polyvore @veromezzini

Dos and don’ts of an often-ambiguous dress code

Do know the basics. These pieces are the bread and butter for a business casual attire, and you should always have them handy in your closet:

  • A pair of dress pants with a matching jacket. Not necessarily the same color and fabric
  • A skirt with a twin set sweater
  • A classic dress to pair with a knitted jacket
  • Chino pants with a blouse and scarf

Do add some flavor.  Mix and match with your classic, solid color staples with some floral prints pieces, stripes or polka dot blouses, scarfs and shirts.

Read about beyond the traditional executive presence definition here.

Don’t show too much skin. If you think of your company’s Sunday brunch as an opportunity to boost your self-steam by feeling a little bit sexy, well… that is neither the time nor the place. We are not talking about looking boyish, but feminine, classy and appropriate all the time.

Avoid a neckline that falls 3–3 ½ inches below your clavicle line. For skirts, they shouldn’t be shorter than 3–4 inches above your knee.

Avoid wearing tight clothes, and save those romantic transparencies for that blind date your best friend is arranging for you. Always wear medium to long shirt sleeves and leave your favorite tank top at home unless a jacket conveniently covers it.

Business Casual attire with blue pant and white jacket

Cover your tank top with a blazer or jacket. Photo: Polyvore @veromezzini

Do use denim very carefully. Before jumping into a fabulous pair of jeans, consider the people you are meeting and where the event is taking place. My advice, don’t take the risk when the dress code is business casual. Just save them for casual Fridays.

Here's a great video with more dos and don'ts for business casual dress code.

Business Casual Accessories, the “Danger Zone”

Business casual is the perfect dress code to add some color and “fab factor” to your outfit.  Accessories are the right tools to do it. When it comes to work attire, however, the line between looking cool and modern, and dressing inappropriately, is too thin. So let’s be careful.

Shoes and bags. You are not going to a barbecue, a movie, or a restaurant with friends. Then, resist the temptation to wear those trendy, enormous platform shoes you are dying for, and choose a pair of shoes, sandals or boots that are nice, fashionable but suitable for business.

Women legs wearing white skirt and red shoes- business casual dress code

Add some color to your Business Casual outfit – A great dress code to show your personality. Photo: iStock

Say yes to high heels, but wear those with a medium height, 4 inches or less. You can always marry bright color shoes with a neutral outfit and matching jewelry.

When its come to bags, prefer medium size handbags or purses. However, an oversized tote as a focal point could be great if you keep the rest of the outfit as simple as possible.

Lola Ramona Purse vintage in black and white works well with a business casual dress code

Lola Ramona Purse, perfect for a business casual dress code

Jewelry. Avoid chunky necklaces, big earrings, and high fashion accessories in general, unless they are used as a subtle accent. For example, a touch of rose gold, a nice vintage piece of jewelry or a designer watch. Quality materials and impeccable design are the number one rule when it comes to business casual attires.

And last but not least, do pay attention to hair, makeup, mani-pedi and perfume. When in doubt, rely on the “less is more” mantra. I promise you will ace your business casual attire.

Expand Your Network Effortlessly with 5 Winning Strategies

If you ask me, “expand your network” is the one answer that applies to most questions regarding career success. Why? Because as social beings we base our decisions on emotions. So, people tend to offer opportunities to those in their networks that they know and trust. Consequently, the faster you expand yours the faster you you’ll fulfill your objectives.

This is true whether you want a promotion, find a new job, get paid more for your current position, change careers, launch an innovative product, and for tons of other situations related to your career growth. So let’s get started.

Networking is how you live and work. It's not something you do "after hours."

Networking is how you live and work. It’s not something you do “after hours.”

Expand your network effortlessly

It’s a fact that many women have little or no time for networking for business. They are overstretched with a full workload, family life and personal interests. I’m not here to propose that you somehow carve some additional time to expand your network. No. What I’m going to suggest is that you network strategically and learn to make the most of every opportunity you have to create and solidify your relationships. Think about it like reading a book while on the treadmill. Are you taking extra time to sit and read? No, but you are enjoying your book while getting your workout done

1Follow your love

Last year, I walked into Tatyana, a clothing store in Lower Manhattan with designs inspired in the Pin-up girls of 1940s and 50s. I fell in love with a shoe line they carried and immediately looked it up when I got home. The shoe company was Lola Ramona, a Danish brand with a girly personality and sense of humor. I read all about the company and the brand. It aligned so well with the philosophy of the Red Shoe Movement…. I ordered a pair of shoes and then connected with the company’s CEO on Linkedin. I sent her a note where I shared my love for her shoe line and suggested that perhaps we could do something together.

To expand your network do Gitte Sandquist of Lola Ramona and Mariela Dabbah of the Red Shoe Movement did. Follow your love.

Magic happens when you follow your love and contact people you feel an alignment with. It makes it easier to expand your network organically.

A few days later Gitte Sandquist and I had a Skype call. What happened was like magic. We clicked right away and decided to partner together. And we’ve been doing some amazing things since that call almost a year ago. We finally met in person a few weeks ago and had our first joint event in Copenhagen. This is what I mean when I say “follow your love” to expand your network. Lola Ramona’s shoes spoke to me. Their mix of femininity, boldness and whimsy reflected my inner red shoe. I don’t think about this as networking for business or spending time outside my normal activities.

This is not the first time that I follow my gut and pursue an idea that may sound crazy to others. That I contact someone out of the blue to suggest that we explore doing something together.  And seven or eight times out of ten I get great results. So why not take the chance?

A few situations where you should approach people to expand your network using this rule include:

  • You hear someone present at a conference whose message resonates with you.
  • You identify a leader in your organization that you admire.
  • You read about someone doing something you’d like to do but don’t know how.
  • You are inspired by a Ted talk and realize you can help expand the idea presented by the speaker.
  • You are intrigued by some new research or article you read.

2Wherever two people eat, three people eat

Granted, this sentence may make no sense to you. It’s an almost literal translation of a popular Spanish saying used in my home when I was growing up. (Donde comen dos, comen tres.) The message was that whenever someone unexpected dropped for a meal, there was always enough food to share with that person. I offer this saying to you as an invitation to expand your network through a generosity of spirit.

Share coffee with more than one person at a time to expand your network effortlessly.

Share coffee with more than one person at a time to expand your network effortlessly.

If you plan on having lunch with one person from the office, deliberately think who else you could invite to join you. Who would you like to get to know a little bit better? Who is doing something interesting, different? Who could you help feel more welcomed in your organization? Make it a rule that you eat with at least three people twice a week and you’ll see how your network expands effortlessly.

3Time well your comings and goings

Most people have a routine. They come around the same time, take breaks and lunch about the same time and if they use the gym facilities at the office, they also tend to do it on a certain schedule. So why not time your routine to coincide with people you’d like to get to know better? Nobody said that networking implies spending one hour with someone over drinks. That’s nice, and you can develop good, lasting relationships when people put their guards down.

There are many opportunities throughout the day when you can connect with others as you all move around and take breaks. Small talk is the glue that helps build relationships and expand your network organically.

There are many opportunities throughout the day when you can connect with others as you all move around and take breaks. Small talk is the glue that helps build relationships and expand your network organically.

But brief, inane chitchat is the very basis of human connection. Things like cheer each other during a challenging exercise routine or laughing under a shared umbrella can be as bonding. So, don’t go on the elevator alone and most definitely, don’t sit at lunch by yourself if there are tables occupied by other people. Always choose the most crowded table at your company’s cafeteria to set down your lunch.

4Visit others

I know you think you have so much to do and so little time. But guess what? Working hard is only the first step to get to the next level. So first, breathe. Remember that networking is an integral part of any job description. (Even when it’s the unwritten part.) The better you know your colleagues, the better you work with them. Now, leave that pile of work on your desk and take your coffee cup to the next- door cubicle. Ask your neighbor about their day, their family, their new yoga practice. Show genuine interest on the people you work with, and with those you would like to work with. Because to obtain greater opportunities you must expand your network way beyond your current colleagues and bosses.

5Resurrect the old art of a face to face conversation

Forget emailing and texting to resolve some important issues. Arrange to meet people face to face for a few minutes. It will make wonders to help you expand your network and resolve any conflicts quickly.

Forget emailing and texting to resolve some important issues. Arrange to meet people face to face for a few minutes. It will make wonders to help you expand your network and resolve any conflicts quickly.

Call me old-fashion but nothing beats a face-to-face conversation for cementing relationships. Forget email, texting or Whatsapping. Emoticons aside, nothing comes even close. Not even the avatar that looks like you. (And I have one of those!)

If you want to seriously increase your contact base, find occasions to meet in person to discuss projects you’re working on together. Even when these issues could be resolved via email, make a decision to see the person for ten minutes. You’ll be surprised how productive a ten minute in-person meeting can be and how many more ideas you both come up with.

I mentioned earlier that magic happened when Gitte of Lola Ramona and I met on Skype that first time. But you know what? A lot more magic happened when we met in person and spent a few hours over several days understanding each other’s motivations, individual purposes and business goals. I’m going to make a wild guess and predict the same will happen to you if you take the time to turn an email exchange into a face-to-face encounter.

 

 

After connecting via Linkedin with Lola Ramona's CEO, not only did we start working together but we had our first event in Copenhagen together!

After connecting via Linkedin with Lola Ramona’s CEO, not only did we start working together but we had our first event in Copenhagen together!

All the secrets in the world to expand your network won’t make a difference to you if you keep thinking networking is something you do above and beyond living and working. Networking is how you live and work. Do you do it alone? Or do you build relationships along the way?

And if you’re really ready to expand your network, consider signing up for the Step Up Program where a community of women  help each other succeed professionally!