Laura had an article published in the January 2020 edition of Capital at Play. Check it out. See full edition in the link or read the article below. Enjoy.
The Power of Your Posse: How & Why You Should Build Up Your Professional Girl Gang
As a businesswoman, there are a range of resources within your reach, from professional development organizations to online trainings, industry conferences to entrepreneurial grants, but perhaps the most invaluable yet underutilized is also the most universal: your posse. Your posse—a diverse group of professional mentors, acquaintances, and friends—can be both a rewarding channel for your unique skillsets and a foundational support system and resource when you need it most.
I was recently reminded of the power of the posse when a wonderful female advisor I know
(we’ll call her “Mary”) turned to her posse for support and solutions when she received the surprise of her life.
Mary was a rising star. A substantial partner in an advisory firm in the Midwest, Mary had started at the bottom of the ladder and climbed it rung by rung. Along the way, she contributed significantly to the development and evolution of the firm: she improved the firm’s investment process and its operational efficiency; managed and developed client relationships; and served as an important advocate for women in the business. Throughout her career, Mary established an honorable reputation and was frequently tapped to serve on advisory groups and panels to share her expertise and experience.
Unfortunately, Mary’s two male partners did not appreciate the impact she was having outside of the office. Despite the tension that was mounting, Mary never expected her partners’ next move. Without the formality or process of a shareholders’ meeting, and without consulting their third partner, the duo made a shocking decision: Mary was out. They no longer wanted her to be a part of the firm.
Mary called her closest friends in the business—not her “posse,” but her “peeps”—to share the news and start to plan her path forward. Your peeps are the core group of your posse, but more importantly, they’re your emotional support system. When crises strike, they’re the first calls you make after your spouse; your peeps are your shoulders to cry on, open ears to listen to your gripes and grumbles, and your safe space to vent so that you can move forward with a clear head.
Which brings us to your posse. When it’s time to get down to business, it’s time to call on your posse. By definition, a posse can be many things—a gang, mob, company, crew—but in the case of women in business, particularly those of us who represent a minority in our field, a posse is a group of peers who have developed a mutual fondness, respect, and significant professional friendships. These women, vested with different skillsets and experiences, serve as a resource for their posse with specialties ranging from practice management to work-life balance. This network can be a powerful support system for businesswomen, both professionally and personally, which is why we recommend all women actively cultivate their own posse.
The proof of the posse’s potential power lies in the story of Mary. As word spread of her partners’ rebuff, the posse’s members sprang into action. Everyone in her network had something to offer: one person gave her a place to land, another a place to start her own firm; some peers sat down with Mary to strategize how she should negotiate her exit from the partnership, while still others spoke to the sales management team of the firm and requested assistance in helping her get a fair deal. The rest of us motivated Mary as sounding boards and cheerleaders.
The posse proved to be exactly what Mary needed. Perhaps most importantly, she felt empowered and supported during a very stressful and disruptive period of her life; the knowledge that she had a network of women behind her gave Mary the confidence and strength to persevere. The advice and impetus of her peers also emboldened Mary to negotiate for a better and more equitable deal, rather than accepting the weak first offer. Though the circumstances were injurious, their results will be positively constructive; with the aid of her posse, Mary will likely build a much better business for herself and her family.
Ready to build and develop your own powerful posse? Here’s how:
- Be open to developing new professional relationships. Don’t just be open to the idea, but actively pursue these professional relationships. Make time to attend professional events, and sit with people you don’t know. Relationships are not sales pitches, so it’s important that you ask people you meet about themselves, rather than just talking about yourself. Be sure to stock your wallet with cards so that you can maintain your new relationships after the event.
- Lead with a servant’s heart. Although Mary’s story shares the value of your posse as a resource, it’s the support her peers gave that make her story special. Your primary role in your posse is as a giver—of advice, support, contacts, and active listening. Your service to your posse could serve you well someday (remember the old adage of what goes around comes around), but for now prioritize giving over taking.
- Be a connector. As you develop your posse, consider how you could connect members of your network to perpetuate the cycle. One of the most valuable resources you can give to your group is the gift of each other. Don’t wait for other people in the group to meet or even to introduce you; be the connector and make your own introductions.
- Be trustworthy. As you develop a more extensive network, keep in mind that gossip never flatters anyone—including the person who shares it. You want to develop relationships based on trust and respect, so be sure to maintain environments that cultivate those attributes.
- Show up for your posse. When someone in your network needs help, be willing to share your insight or ear. If you provide the help they need, they will likely show up for you when you need it most.
If you think you’re too busy to develop your posse, you’re not; everyone’s busy, and it’s no longer an excuse. Making the effort to cultivate your network is both personally rewarding, as you develop lifelong friendships, and professionally resourceful, as you develop the very support system you just may need.
Laura Webb is President and founder of Webb Investment Services, a wealth management and investment consulting firm that has been providing support to successful individuals, particularly women, in Western North Carolina since 1995. Laura is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and has undergone the Certified Financial Transitionist® training. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has worked in the financial services industry for over 38 years. She loves being an advocate for women, especially women in Business and was instrumental in helping the Asheville Chamber of Commerce create WomanUp, an initiative designed to help inspire, support and connect women in business.
www.webbinvestmentservices.com 828-252-5132 82 Patton Ave, Suite 610, Asheville, NC 28801,. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member
FINRA/SIPC Webb Investment Services is independent of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. and is not a registered broker/dealer. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. CFP Board owns the CFP® marks in the United States. Any opinions are those of Laura A. Webb and not necessarily those of RJFS or