It’s not every day you have the pleasure of sitting right behind North Carolina’s Secretary of State, Elaine F. Marshall, at an all female mentoring event. As we both took in Cindy Whitehead’s captivating keynote at BizWomen’s Mentoring Monday I happened to overhear her say to Sheila Ogle, former & longtime owner of Cary’s Matthews House, about how she never had a formal mentor. Her comment immediately sent my mind in several directions… my how times have changed, how thankful I am to have access to strong female business leaders, how awesome Elaine Marshall is for being where she is today.
I’m lucky to be building a career in a time when it’s more common for women to have mentors. I’ve also got the techy advantage of having hundreds of women business leaders accessible from a few taps on my phone—I can see their updates, read their advice, follow their paths, and draw inspiration from their successes.
In that sense, social media has changed the way my career has grown. As much as I want to disconnect some days and remove all social media apps from my phone, I realize how fortunate I am to have access to them. Social media is more than the amazing deals on the Buy, Sell, Trade groups and knowing where your friend from Kindergarten ate dinner last night—it is where you stay connected to fellow business leaders. I receive daily thought leadership from the On The Dot email newsletter, Amy Poehler’s SmartGirls brings daily doses of female inspiration to my Facebook newsfeed, and hashtags like #mentoringmonday on Instagram and Twitter allow me to see the businesswomen in 43 cities across the US who are inspiring other women business leaders. Heck, even Cindy Whitehead’s new venture, The Pink Ceiling, inspires through social media, offering a private Facebook group where its members can post ideas and converse.
So what’s the take away? In-person communication and mentorship, can never be replaced. Experiences like Mentoring Monday, the Raleigh Women’s Leadership Conference, or just having coffee with a colleague who has a few more years on her resume are some things every woman should make time for. Having that direct, in person communication, is vital to helping make those game time decisions—like how to respond to a job offer or how to handle the rude colleague. But for the daily doses of inspiration?
Social media connections are icing on the cake in today’s world. They are where we broaden our ideas and are exposed to thoughts we may never have in our normal habitat. As tempting as it can be to cut ties with social media I am looking forward to using it in a deeper manner. More virtual networking post face to face events and less scrolling through photos of my college roommate’s latest vacation (no offense, Olivia).
There are so many reasons why, today, I have more access to a mentor than female leaders in previous generations might have had. But as I reflected on that and felt gratitude for the leaders before me and the leaders inspiring me, I realized that social media plays a big part of that.
Hashtag #blessed, indeed.