You already know the importance of professional networking, but as great as it is to have a wide net of contacts to reach out to when you need them, having closer connections is even better. When you develop deeper relationships with people in your network, you’re more likely to get help from them. And the best way to make these kinds of friends is by joining professional communities.
Unlike one-time networking events, professional communities meet and or connect regularly. A community may be of people who all work in the same industry, in similar career stages (such as young professionals), or have something in common (like being working moms). If the group is local, there may be regular in-person gatherings where members can reconnect, listen to special speakers, or participate in community events. There are also all kinds of online professional communities (such as The Mom Project) where members communicate and meet up for virtual summits, programs, and events.
Professional communities come with so many advantages that it’s a wonder why more people don’t prioritize them.
Professional Communities and Career Growth
Again, through general networking, you can connect with so many fantastic professionals across different industries, in various stages of their careers, and beyond. These connections indeed come with benefits, but they’re also typically far-removed or casual relationships – meaning these people could help you get ahead professionally. Still, some of them are just as likely to ghost you without much thought.
Professional communities usually have a lot or just a few members, but no matter the size of the group, these communities allow for more meaningful relationships to develop because they’re rooted in a commonality. For instance, if you’re part of a young professionals group, you and your fellow members will likely share similar frustrations and or victories that help you bond. The relationships with group members can help you professionally than if they were a distant connection in your network.
Additionally, members of professional communities will often get access to unique career development opportunities. The Mom Project’s RISE and RALLY programs are excellent examples of this. RALLY matches up members into pairs, a booster and a boostee, and guides them through monthly one-on-one meetings for mentorship and professional relationship building. RISE is a scholarship program committed to accelerating equity for moms and women of color by providing access to upskill tech certifications while harnessing the power of community, support, and job placement—in six months or less, and at no cost to participants! Those who participate in RALLY or RISE are Talent Community members of The Mom Project and Mom Project.org.
Why Professional Communities Matter
Aside from the career growth that comes with being a member of a professional community, there is the benefit of getting support from like-minded people. For instance, when you’re a full-time working mom feeling burned out and overwhelmed by the constant balancing act of this lifestyle, it helps to confide in someone who understands your situation. Of course, other people may lend an ear, but there’s something extra special about sharing your story with someone who has been there and can validate your feelings.
A professional community is, a group of people who understand you in some unique way that others just can’t. Because of this, there is the potential to develop meaningful relationships with other members, and sometimes that benefit outweighs any potential career gain you may get from the group.
Identifying Your Career Allies
Of course, you’re probably not going to form close bonds with everyone in your professional community (especially if it’s a large one). There may be fellow members who seem to be just as distant as a random LinkedIn connection. Even so, if you genuinely put some effort into engaging with people within the community, you will ultimately end up with allies who will do whatever they can to help you succeed.
How do you spot these people? Here are some signs that a fellow member is more than just a close connection:
They go out of their way to check-in outside of scheduled events/meetings, especially when they know something big is going on (an interview, a project, a promotion, etc.)
They’re willing to share tips/advice from their own experiences
They show concern and offer help when you’re struggling professionally (or personally and it’s affecting your professional performance)
A career ally is like a best friend who always has your back in your professional development and growth.
Creating Relationships That Count
The professional world isn’t always a friendly place, it can feel cold and competitive. It may even leave you with a sense of loneliness. An excellent professional community, however, is the exact opposite. It’s a group of like-minded people coming together to offer support, guidance and cheer each other on. These kinds of professional relationships matter, and they’re so much easier to find than you may realize.
Join a community that cares
Join our talented community of moms and mom allies. Whether you’re searching for your next opportunity, looking to give or get career guidance or just getting started—you’re in the right place.