What are some good resources for young professionals and female entrepreneurs? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
The other week, I was speaking with a friend of mine who was about to launch her company and had asked me for advice. Specifically, she wanted to know, "When you launched ThirdLove, what did you do really well?"
I told her, "Absolutely nothing."
Looking back, I can't think of a single thing we did really well. I'd redo just about every part of the launch if I could.
We had a good laugh about it, but it did get me thinking about the importance of having someone to go to for advice when dealing with various situations as an entrepreneur.
I've been exploring the different resources out there for years now, and I wanted to share the ones I've found most helpful as a female founder.
Events and Conferences
Even though there are plenty of all-female events and groups available for entrepreneurs, I don't suggest spending all of your time with other women. In fact, I'd say you should spend at least 75% of your time at dual-gender events.
There are two very important reasons why: First, the world is made up of both men and women. And second, the vast majority of venture capital firms and companies are run by men.
It's still important to understand the female landscape, make friends, and find mentors. In my mind, anytime a woman can speak on a panel at any conference--regardless of where it is--she's helping push equality and diversity. But it's actually more important to network outside of that community of female founders.
For example, I spoke at Shoptalk this year, which is a retail and e-commerce event. It's good PR for the company, sure. But I was also on stage with two men--one from Gap and one from PVH. To me, just being alongside two male panelists and a male moderator made a statement. I think it was more impactful for me to present on that stage than it would be for me to speak at an all-female founders event--something I often do and will continue to do in the future.
That said, here are a few events and conferences I'd recommend to any entrepreneur:
• / - TED is a household name at this point. And it can be a great resource depending on who you're trying to network with and what your company does. The attendees are much more diverse than some of the industry-specific conferences, and you can meet a wide range of interesting people.
• - As I mentioned earlier, Shoptalk is a great conference for anyone in the retail or e-commerce business who wants to network and learn more about the space.
• - This is a very selective, fantastic conference that always has great content and some really compelling speakers for anyone in the tech industry.
Groups and Networking
No matter where your area of expertise lies, there are alway opportunities to meet people. It doesn't matter where you live or what your field is, you can find formal or informal opportunities to meet new people in your industry. You simply have to get used to going somewhere new where you may not know anyone.
I know it's difficult. Five years ago, I had plenty of trouble walking into a room full of strangers. But I kept doing it. Today, I can walk into a room without knowing a single person and strike up a conversation without a hitch. It's one of those things you just have to get comfortable with, because it will become more and more crucial the further along you get in your career.
Here are a few ways founders can get involved:
• : This is a great organization dedicated to connecting female founders with female mentors and VCs, and increasing the percentage of female partners in venture capital firms.
• : The Young Presidents' Organization is a group I've really grown to enjoy since joining about a year ago. It's a confidential way to meet with and talk to other executives across diverse industries. Each YPO meeting always includes an educational component, and I love learning new things through the speakers or content of the day.
Meetups with friends or founders: When it comes down to it, nothing takes the place of cultivating your own network and putting in the energy and effort to meet people and keep up with friends.
As a founder, you can't stay on top of everything that's going on around the world. But there are plenty of news sites that can keep you up-to-date with both your industry, and national and international news.
These are a few of my favorites:
• : Axios is a great news resource that also announces funding and deals at an aggregate level. It's a little more venture capital/tech-focused, but I like their newsletter because it condenses a lot of the news I'd have to search out on my own.
• : I love Nuzzel because it's an aggregator that's based on your network, so it ranks stories based on what people in your network are reading and sharing. When you only have 10 minutes in the morning, it's incredibly helpful. The articles are from the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and other great publications.
• : I mainly use LinkedIn for recruiting purposes, but I also end up doing a lot of reading on the site. Again, I go here for information people in my network are sharing or even content they've written themselves.
Now more than ever, there are plenty of resources for entrepreneurs. You simply have to seek out which work best for you and your industry.
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