“We are born in community—fully connected to another human. Without connection, we cannot survive. It’s in our DNA to belong. “ —Radha Agrawal from Belong: Find Your People, Create Community and Live a More Connected Life
I feel like I just got off a rollercoaster ride. Less spinning teacup experience, and more of a wooden, shaky, beast sort of amusement. The kind where you get to the top, and think “oh shit!” We moved three days after executing two huge events, closed on our house on Xmas Eve, battled two viruses and a pulled back— and are almost clear of unpacked boxes. We made it to 5 Christmas’ in 24 hrs, and had a full house for NYE at the restaurant. As we take down holiday decorations and close out 2018, we are breaking out 2019 planning sheets, markers, and dry erase boards. It’s time to reflect on the past year, digest, and celebrate.
Part of this reflection includes my personal journey in 2018. One of the most meaningful things I did this year, was put myself out there to meet total strangers. I knew there were other women like me—ones that fought some huge battles, opened their own companies, and had big dreams. I wanted to meet them, so I decided to ask one woman (that I had never met) to coffee each month for the entire year of 2018. The twelve women I met were extraordinary. I asked questions about what they did, where they were from, what they wanted to learn— and if I could offer them support.
It was a spectacular adventure and I was moved by each women I met. I urge you to expand your circle and connect. Here is how I did it, feel free to use any of this!
12 Women Project
1. I set up a signup genius, with each month listed. This works like a digital signup sheet. You could also use google docs. https://www.signupgenius.com
2. Through names I had seen in articles or on social media, I chose the names of 12 women and searched for a contact online.
3. I added the link to an email and sent it to the women I wanted to meet. This is what I said in the email.
I am writing from a desk with a view of the woods, and the pond just outside my window has a frozen top. It’s cold in Cincy and I hope this email finds you with a nice cup of coffee or an extra layer of warmth today. I am writing you because in 2017 I had an idea, I set a goal to meet 12 new women.
Maybe I should backtrack and start by introducing myself. My name is Tess Burns. I own a restaurant called Commonwealth Bistro and work during the day in the marketing field. In 2017, I partnered with Dr. Angie Taylor to create Morning “Happy Hour”: A free quarterly networking event for women. Those mornings fueled me with the energy from brilliant women, and the help and connections I was able to make for people filled my soul. Recently, as I created my goal list for 2018, I thought “How cool would it be to meet a new woman every month?” So I jotted down “Meet 12 new women in 2018.” That’s why I am contacting you.
I would simply like to invite you for a cup of coffee, my treat. No hidden agenda or sales pitch here. I just want to expand my network; and hear about what you are doing. There are so many amazing women in the tri-state doing wonderful things and I think you’re one of them! Your name has crossed my path either in conversation with other women or online in articles or social media.
Would you be willing to let me buy you a latte? I am happy to meet at a coffee shop in your neck of the woods so it’s convenient for you. Sign up for a month here (insert your signup genius link here.)
I look forward to meeting you and hearing about what you’re up to.
4. When someone signs up send them a confirmation email and ask where they would like to meet. It is important to let them pick so it’s convenient for them (plus you get to visit some new cool coffeeshops.) Note the date and location in your calendar. Also make a note 2 weeks before the date. to send a friendly email. reminding the person of the meet up. Note: Keep meet-ups to under 60 minutes (30-40 minutes works best to be mindful of their time.)
5. When I met each women I mainly just asked about their story. Then the conversation found its natural way from there. At the end, I did ask the same three questions to each woman. You can use mine or create your own.
What is something you have always wanted to learn?
What do you think we need to do to better support women in the tri-state?
Is there any way I can be of support to you?
I met one woman that felt like a kindred spirit, one that made me laugh hysterically, one that I was able to connect to a new speaking opportunity—and much more.
I hope you go on your own journey of meeting new people. Feel free to use the body copy from my email, as well as the attached graphic in your 12 women meetups. If you're reading this and I don't know you, I would love to be invited as one of the 12 women you meet in 2019!