I’ve been in many meetings this last month where the words “Women need to be asked to do something before they’ll get involved” were spoken. This was offered up over and over as an answer to the question of how to get women more involved, how to fill key roles, how to grab nominations, etc.

At first, I cringe when I hear these words. It brings up images of meek and timid women cowering in the shadows until someone else deems them worthy for a task or a distinction. I don’t have that experience any of the wonderful and amazing women that I work with.

Then, I see it from a different perspective. I think all people, but maybe especially women (research tends to support this theory), are more likely to get involved if they’re asked. When it’s not an issue specific to gender, I feel better about accepting it.

Either way, as I look forward to 2017, I have big visions of droves of women who want to give of their gifts. They want to be included in the conversation and have a seat at the table. I want to see this because it would indicate an increase in their confidence in themselves and their own voice.

So I ask you this: Who do you see around you that has something to give but doesn’t see it in themselves? And what can you do to change that?

Here are specific ways you can encourage others to get more involved with Women’s Network:

  • Scholarships — Sometimes we don’t even award all the money that is available because we don’t get enough applications.
  • Athena and Athena Young Professional — We’ve made the process to nominate someone much less arduous. Who do you know that’s an Athena? Check it out here to see for yourself: http://www.columbiamochamber.com/pdf_files/2017ATHENAAwardNominationRound1.pdf
  • Special Events committee — Who do you know that loves to plan parties, make DIY crafts, or decorate?
  • Marketing committee — Who do you know that loves to write and can be a contributor to our newsletter? Who do you know that loves to take pictures that can be our group photographer?
  • Changing the Odds committee — Who do you know that has a heart for helping women get back to work after being out of the workforce?
  • Leadership Development Roundtable/Mentoring committee — Who loves to teach and develop those around them?
  • Monthly Program — Who do you know that likes going to the lunches but always has big opinions on the topics being presented? Ask them to join the committee that plans the events!

Let’s lift those around us up. I know it can be intimidating to raise your own hand to volunteer. But doesn’t it feel great to make someone else feel special? This is something we can all do. Let’s each pick out two people that we send an email to that starts off with, “You know what I think you’d be awesome at?”

Then, prepare to receive those emails yourself. Because you are someone else’s someone.

Let’s take it to the next level together.

— Erica Pefferman, President, The Business Times Company