Red Suits, Geeks and Connecting With Peers

I am attending an two and one-half day event at Microsoft later this month.  I am very excited about this event. It is sponsored by one of the most important organizations in my life – the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).  As I reviewed the attendee list last night, I learned a very interesting fact  – I am the only female out of 75 attendees!

Wow!  Unlike the fine female congressmen of our nation during the State of Union, I won’t have to wear a red suit in order to stand out as an exception. It is going to be obvious.

I spend a large part of my days shoulder to shoulder with people in human resources where there are many powerful women. However, I am in the minority within the technology and corporate leadership part of my life.  When you put those two portions of my demographic profile together, there just are not a lot of women.

When I do my business internationally, there are fewer women  – even in the human resource management roles. Layer technology supporting HR and add the executive hat on top of the other definitions of who I am and the number of international women drops off the cliff.

In Search Of Peers

I absolutely loved having dinner with the owner and another leader of an Oracle implementation firm in Turkey this summer.  They told me stories about the history of Turkey as we looked across the Bosporus at the Asian side of Istanbul.  We enjoyed ourselves and we had a good laugh about the fact that I couldn’t stand Turkish coffee (almost a national offense, but I don’t like American coffee either.) We talked about the fact that there are many younger women coming up through the very powerful technology career path of Turkish business. Intelligence reigns supreme in the value proposition of a technologist in Turkey, so the gender playing field can be equalized in this industry.

As we wrapped up dinner and were getting ready to leave, I checked my watch.  They became nervous that they had kept me too late or that something was wrong.  When I told them I was checking to see if it was too late to catch the last game of the night in the World Cup, they squealed, “You like  football too?”  The pure love of the game bonds people from all over the world and all income levels. We had something in common and I made two new friends in Turkey. They are my peers.

Making Connections

Connecting with peers can be tricky.  Connecting with others can be an art form, and it is a very important success building skill.  I have found that if I first look for what I have in common with someone, instead of what makes us different, it is much easier to connect.

I want to be well rounded like a Renaissance (wo)man. The more I read, learn, travel and explore the world around me, the more connections I can make with fascinating people who further expand my horizons.  I like to broaden my perspectives and I like having very diverse interests.  This allows me to connect with more fascinating people.

Geeking Out and Loving It

Wish me luck that I can hold my own for 2.5 days with 74 male geeks.  I will just have to embrace my geek-ness wholeheartedly. Besides, that is why I signed up for this event anyway.

Photo credit iStockphoto

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About the Author

Lois Melbourne

Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is co-founder and former CEO of Aquire Solutions, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. After entering a bit of a sabbatical life phase, she is authoring a series of children's books about career ambitions. She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a speaker, author of industry articles, and an occasional blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.


Meghan M. Biro

Interesting to learn more about what you are doing this month Lois. Connecting with peers IRL (my new favorite term = in real life) is key!

Where are the females? Wow, an astounding statistic for your meeting. Please keep us posted. Represent.

Recruiting Animal

On The Recruiting Animal Show I always ask people what they do when they go to a networking event where they know no one. They think it’s a stupid question. You don’t.

You’re welcome to come and talk about it if you can tell specific stories and do so in detail.

But beware it is a rowdy environment. Not for people who can’t justify their claims.



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