Every woman’s story during the COVID-19 pandemic is different. Women are frontline workers, essential workers and remote workers. They are raising families and moving back in with relatives. They are starting businesses, taking online courses to learn new skills and finding fulfilling self-care practices.
More than a year into the pandemic, however, many women are lonely. Feeling lonely during this time is completely normal. Practicing social distancing and working remotely naturally make it a bit more difficult to connect with old friends and new colleagues alike.
Luckily, taking a bit of agency to reach out and offer support to one another can help us all cope with feelings of loneliness. As we inch closer to the next normal, here are a few ways women can support one another in a compassionate and friendly manner.
Sometimes the best way to connect, or even reconnect, is going back to basics. Make the first move by reaching out to a friend or connection you haven’t spoken to in a while and say hi. Ask how they’re doing. If you’d like, add an emoji that you know will brighten their day. Then, step back. Give them space and grace to respond back to you.
What should you avoid when checking in? Talking only about yourself. Do not turn checking in on a friend into your personal Instagram stories. Give them the floor to speak and your ears to listen.
Not sure about the best place to check-in? Think about platforms and spaces where they feel comfortable chatting. Reach out by sending a text message or email. You may also consider dropping a line via social media platforms where you know they maintain an active presence. If you’d rather not have everyone see your message or know they would be comfortable keeping the conversation between the two of you, send along a private message.
One of the best ways women can support other women is by acting as a mentor.
In a year as challenging and unprecedented as 2020, women of all generations are seeking mentors in 2021. Why not offer to volunteer your time and years of experience to be a mentor?
Consider reaching out to your employer about implementing mentorship opportunities in the workplace. You may act as a 1:1 mentor and offer guidance and a sounding board to women in and out of your industry. Additionally, think about mentorship outside of your work schedule. Look into being a peer mentor for younger women that aspire to have similar careers like yours. Share valuable advice based on your experience on how to get your foot in the door.
Where can you volunteer your time as a mentor? Try resources like SCORE. There, you can find experienced mentors that can offer practical and thoughtful advice to all women. You may also become a SCORE volunteer in more ways than acting as a business mentor. There are options to volunteer in your community, too. Sign up to be a subject matter expert, become a local workshop presenter, offer chapter and marketing support or conduct community outreach.
Every career path has a story. Now more than ever, it is critical that we listen to the stories of other women and share our own stories. Make time to put on a podcast during the workday hosted by a woman or featuring a female guest that inspires you. Read an article a colleague at work published on LinkedIn.
When we listen to and read the stories women have to share, we discover that we were never alone. Everyone faces similar challenges and makes mistakes. They learn and grow from these moments and do not give up. Hearing and reading about these success stories gives us the confidence to keep going and succeed.
Similarly, we learn certain realities from successful women. We discover how long it actually takes to get a business started or make your mark in a specific industry. Diversity in representation also matters. While we can celebrate the women that succeed, we learn that there is still so much work that needs to be done to improve and give more women from all walks of life a seat at the table.
What happens when we share our own stories? Your voice, and your story, matter! Countless women may be listening to or reading your story. They may discover that something they did not know was accessible—whether it is your leadership style, networking approach, or even your job title—is possible within their careers.
Best of all, when you share your story—or find a way to include the wisdom of other incredible women and their insight in your story—you can reach a new, wider audience of women. Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on social media platforms. Find ways to support their work, whether it means liking a post on social, sending an invite to an event they would be interested in, or purchasing from their storefront.
Supporting women means making a world that works better for women. It creates limitless possibilities for everyone. In this next normal, the support we give to women allows them to unleash their potential, pursue their passions and do extraordinary things.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.
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