As an entrepreneur, I'm used to taking risks. In fact, I know that being successful means stepping out of the box and taking a chance on something others may not agree with or understand.
I also know that I would have been very reluctant to try something new or different if I didn't have a strong support system in place; a network of professional and personal connections that I could turn to for advice, resources and guidance.
This ability to be able to turn to other like-minded professionals has always been important to me. And not simply because the advice, resources and guidance I benefited from all helped me become successful. It's more about how having people I could trust, colleagues I could learn from and mentors I could count on gave me the confidence to believe in myself.
This became the driving force behind my decision to establish The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) in 2007. At that time, I recognized there was a need for a national networking platform for professional women, a forum where members could connect with other like-minded professional women, both professionally and personally.
I'm proud of what NAPW offers its more than 471,000 members: a network of their own. I've learned a lot of lessons throughout my career about what success is and what to do with it and I learn more every day when I talk to and hear what professional women have to say.
Nurturing the Whole Person
There is definitely more to a professional person's life than just his or her profession. Connecting with others, not only with those whose views are similar, but with people from all walks of life, can only help you grow as a person. At annual networking conferences and through nearly 400 Local Chapters, NAPW members establish life-long relationships with women they may see only once a year or once a month. The key is they are learning from and supporting one another on personal and professional levels.
Discover Your Passion
Many of our members are entrepreneurs and small business owners, some are CEOs of multi-million dollar companies with a staff of hundreds, and others are the sole proprietor and employee of a unique home-based business. Their business models may all be different, but most of them have one thing in common: their passion. Our members believe in what they are doing and their willingness to share their advice and wisdom with each other is both inspiring and empowering.
Mindful of the Needs of Others
For me, giving back to those in need has always been important, so I strive to instill that same altruistic atmosphere in my company. NAPW supports a number of charities and nonprofit organizations focused on women's issues and child wellness, including the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Campaign, the American Cancer Society and the NAPW Rising Star's Scholarship Program. Our Local Chapters continuously work with local charitable organizations in order to give back to and strengthen their communities, from supporting women's shelters to mentoring high school girls.
When people share the knowledge, skills and resources they have garnered from their careers with one another and with their communities, it's a way to share their successes -- and make those successes much more meaningful.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.