Martinis, makeovers, and massages are not always what come to mind when you think about giving back and community service. Yet a group of executive women who are members of Women in Technology (WIT) in the Washington, D.C. area have found a creative way to network, have a great time, and raise money for a nonprofit.
Kelly Harman, the current President of WIT, invites friends and colleagues she met through the organization to the women-only annual event at her home. Partygoers bring appetizers and make a contribution to Transitional Housing BARN in exchange for an afternoon of makeup tips, financial advice, and massages. The women have a fun time connecting with each other while benefiting the organization, which provides housing and services for homeless women and their children in the northern Virginia area.
This is just one example of the many ways that professional women's networking organizations are supporting service throughout their communities.
CABLE, an organization in Nashville that connects professional women with opportunities so that they can thrive in their chosen careers, has a dedicated Civic Outreach committee. The purpose of this volunteer committee is to expose members to nonprofits throughout the Nashville area and inform them of local needs and ways in which they can give. Opportunities for contributing include donating both professional skills and monetary funds. According to Susan Huggins, the Executive Director of CABLE, "Seasoned professionals see that civic leadership is an important component of advancing within the community, and I have seen that influence rub off on emerging leaders."
Mentoring is another key way in which professional women's organizations serve their communities. Both CABLE and WIT have programs that enable senior leaders to provide experience and guidance to young professionals and students. "We target girls that are going to school in underserved areas. We also have a scholarship through our foundation that enables two to three young girls to go to college," Harman stated.
If you're a professional woman looking for a way to become involved in your community, you would be well-advised to join a local networking organization. (Similar groups also exist for men.) The benefits can be profound, both for the community and your career.