In a world that needs more female entrepreneurs and where women need to do everything we can to help each other, Jenny Powers has found a way to do both. She founded the aptly named Running With Heels, an an invitation-only networking society exclusively for female executives and entrepreneurs. Her members-only events are, as she says, “designed to elevate your personal and professional life through curated connections and inspiring conversations.”
Jenny also recently gave a TED talk about living life on purpose, where she specifically addressed the challenges we often face as women—not just in business, but in life and relationships—packaged in a great story (it really is—watch the video) with inspiring advice—all in just ten minutes. (Seriously, she was born to do this!)
I actually met Jenny at a networking event for alumnae of our prep school, which is coincidentally where she gave her TED talk. At the event, she offered up another incredible (and very informational) speech about networking, with innovative advice I'd not heard before. Totally impressed, I asked her about what it’s like to be a female entrepreneur, to share some of her best networking tips and of course, about her TED Talk.
How did you come to start your company?
I launched Running With Heels in 2012 as the antidote to the proverbial “Old Boys’ Club.” Tired of traditional networking events full of business card exchanges and sales pitches, but void of meaningful connections and inspiring conversations, I envisioned a “New Girls’ Club” that empowered professional women to connect, collaborate, and celebrate one another’s successes.
Is it harder for women then men to network?
Men and women network differently and most of the traditional networking events out there were created by men for men. Men grab drinks, wheel and deal on the golf course, and focus on closing the sale. Women tend to focus on the "know, like and trust factor” and build rapport first.
What more genuine way to get to know someone than sitting down and breaking bread with them? Our signature dinner party series has a round-robin format where women dine with 4-5 different women during each of the three courses and allows them to get to know one another through relaxed, authentic interactions.
What are your best networking tips?
•Focus on likeability not profitability.
•Be an active listener and be fully present during conversations.
•Make a concerted effort to help others and be a resource.
•Follow up, follow up, follow up!
How can we network outside of networking events? Should we always be networking?
The best networking opportunities typically arise outside of traditional networking events so join a book or film club, sign up for group volunteer work, take a class in a subject that interests you. That way, when you meet someone during one of these activities, you'll already share a common bond.
Networking is simply meeting new people, building rapport and keeping in touch. If you use this definition of networking, then yes, we should always be networking.
As I recall, you are really into LinkedIn. So many people choose not to use this resource that has been so valuable to you. How has it been helpful to you and how should we be taking advantage of it?
Linked In is an incredible resource for businesspeople at all levels of their career, yet too often people dismiss it and thinks it's just for job-seekers.
LinkedIn eliminates the need for anyone to ever make a cold call again. Through LinkedIn, you can connect with virtually anyone through your own network or through an In-Mail option. You can source vendors, venues, potential clients, seek advice, offer advice and most importantly, take a contact offline and meet in person and build a relationship. I have secured pro-bono speakers, recruited the majority of my clients, joined a variety of groups, gotten back in touch with people, showcased my work and recommended people all while using Linked In.
How did you come to give a TED talk?
I've always loved watching and listening to TED talks. People have always told me I'm a captivating storyteller and a month ago a client of mine, after hearing me speak, suggested I do a TED talk. I was intrigued so I bought a few books on TED talks and devoured them. Then I researched how to apply and found out my own high school alma mater was hosting a TEDX conference so I applied and was accepted.
What was your experience of giving the talk itself?
The entire experience from submitting my application to being accepted to the rehearsal to the show all took place in a month's time so it was a whirlwind. The talks were being directed to high students so it was very gratifying to turn some of my "messes" into my "messages" and share them with young adults.
The theme of the talk was living your life on purpose. How can we plan to do that every day?
To live your life with purpose and on purpose you must set intentions. Create a roadmap or blueprint in order to create the life you want. I keep a journal and every night I make a list of 3 Daily Personal Intentions and 3 Daily Business Intentions I want to accomplish the next day. This list becomes a guide that prioritizes my day.
Rather than create new years resolutions at the start of each year I create a series of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, timely) goals for different categories—Health & Wellness, Spiritual, Financial & Career, Educational, Social & Cultural, Family & Home—that I want to accomplish over the year.
This year my list was 12 goals ranging from "lose a minimum of 25lbs," to "create an e-zine for my business and write 12 issues," to "teach a class" and "volunteer to do the overnight shift at a local homeless shelter monthly." I'm happy to say I've accomplished 9 of the 12 and I've still got time to the end of the year to make the rest of them happen!