This post is actually not just about an event, it's about connection and it's insane power! But the Ladies Who Launch event was what inspired me to write this post so I'll start there.
I absolutely *know* this event changed my life. Not in a crazy ‘I signed a million-pound deal way’, but in a real ‘I can’t wait to get back to work because I’ve never been more inspired, validated and encouraged’ kinda way!
Ladies Who Launch has come to Belfast for the last 3 years and I’ve heard great things, so this year I signed up to go (it’s free, such a bonus!). The speakers were incredible. Emma McIlroy founder of Wildfang shared an insightful and funny chat with Sarah Friar who co-founded LWL global and the Nextdoor community 😅 Good start right?!
They had 2 brilliant panels and then a keynote from Alyson Hobbs who is a wildly successful entrepreneur from NI. She spoke about her journey, the failures and determination she needed to keep going and her final big success with her business, being bought out at a price she was happy with. But what I really admired was the point she emphasised most -
The key to success in business is survival.
Self-preservation is vital. Taking a break is vital. Refocusing on your own happiness, your relationship, your personal goals are all vital if you want to be successful at business and have a life you like!
This was so validating for me. After taking so much time off over the last 12 months to deal with my miscarriages and support my husband during the worst of his anxiety, I felt like my path to business success had been blocked. Hearing other women share the difficult parts of their journeys honestly and being able to speak with them in real life has helped me to embrace my winding, unique journey in a way I wasn't able to before.
It’s too easy to see all the success stories and listen to the glorification of 'busy' that seems to be all around us. That’s why we need more real connections. That’s why events like this are so powerful. When women gather in a place where they feel safe to be vulnerable, we get to see past the filters. We get to hear the struggles, the regrets and the differing perspectives. And we feel reassured, less alone, encouraged and inspired. Don't we all need to feel that more?
Ladies who launch have created a culture of honesty, inspiration and empowerment. I'd recommend you follow them online and if you can, get to one of the upcoming events!
Connections are hard to make for some people, especially in a big room of 200+ women 😅 But even by showing up you are part of it. And if you keep showing up to things like that you’ll start to feel more comfortable.
It might not be a 'women in business' event, it might be a gym, a dance class, a protest, a mum and tots group, a cultural celebration or a PTA meeting! Wherever it is, don’t let that voice inside convince you that you don’t belong. YOU DO BELONG. You are welcome. And when you do show up, be your true self, be vulnerable if you can and trust people to be kind (remember, if they’re not that’s their problem, not yours).
Feeling connected doesn't only make us feel good, it has been proven to actually DO good as well. Studies consistently show that individuals with higher social engagement and good quality relationships live longer. This even holds true when socioeconomic status, health behaviours, and other variables that might influence mortality were taken into account!*
To put it another way, humans are physically and emotionally built for connection. We only truly thrive when we feel part of a community.
Perhaps my varied experience with connection is what makes me so passionate about this topic. When I first started going to events in Belfast I knew absolutely NO ONE. I moved to Northern Ireland 13 years ago knowing only my boyfriend and had to build my personal and business network from scratch. Over the last few years, I have seen my life and business transform as I found ways to build authentic connections and last week I walked into that event and felt at home. But you have to start somewhere. So be brave and show up, it's too important not to.
With love & tons of positive vibes -
*For anyone interested in the science of connection this peer-reviewed manuscript is very interesting https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/