Things happen for a reason.
This mantra influences my life outlook at every turn. Yes, your life is certainly in your own hands, but that doesn’t mean that serendipity is a far-off fairy tale. I say all this because, without the serendipitous meeting between Sarah Lacey and I back in 2010, my life would not have been touched by Linking Indy Women, nor would I be here writing about it now.
Sarah and I were colleagues at that point – two out of a total of three women at the company we worked with at the time – making our marks. Unavoidable bondage ensued, for which I’m so grateful. She came to me with an idea that had been mulling around her mind for quite some time – why weren’t there any genuinely enjoyable networking groups for women here in Indy? Or, at least, why haven’t we found them? I think “stiff” is the right word to use for networking events I had experienced up until that point. Where were all the women we wanted to hang out with? My career in Indianapolis was just budding, but in that short amount of time, I had had no problem identifying and connecting with potential mentors who were men. I had to stop and think whether I had established personal relationships with any women mentors. Besides Sarah, and a most valuable mentor I met through the Orr Fellowship program, Ali Sales Roach, I couldn’t say I had.
So, back to Sarah’s idea: it couldn’t be that difficult to start a group for women that was genuine in its drive to encourage real relationships and foster a casual atmosphere, could it? Her passion resonated strongly with me. She had to go for it, and I was right there to help her achieve it.
What started as a LinkedIn group with a handful of members, evolved into an in-person get together of about 10 people, which turned into monthly events that grew in attendance every time. It was actually quite exciting to witness truly organic growth. As much as I’d love to credit Sarah and I for the success, I have to say credit is owed to our early supporters. They kept on coming back and spread the word to others. (Thank you guys! ..er, gals!)
Before I knew it, here we are two years later and over 1,000 members strong, fully invested and ready to keep taking Linking Indy Women to the next level. (Ok, I may be copping out on some stories in between, but you might get to read those later.)
I fear I’ve fallen into a historical account of the group and abandoned my original intent: what this experience means to me. I’ve met incredible women through Linking Indy Women. Without fail, it’s the best day of the month for me, leaving me with a renewed excitement and energy. It sounds so cheesy, I know, but I feel like I can tackle just about anything on those days, which says a lot about the people who are there. It’s so rewarding to see how many people are invested in the mission of Linking Indy Women, and want to keep the genuine, casual atmosphere Sarah and I so often craved before LIW was in our lives.
I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such impressive ladies – I learn from them every time we meet. And, for someone like me, who values constant learning and good company in everything I do, Linking Indy Women is much more than a networking group. It’s an irreplaceable component of my life as I know it and interactions I couldn’t live without.
Thank you, Sarah, for bringing me along on this fantastic journey. Let’s always keep it real.
Want to hear about our events? Join our group on LinkedIn! Also, feel free to get in touch with Sarah Lacey (@sarahklacey) or Lauren Weatherall (@lweatherall), and follow Linking Indy Women on Twitter @linkindywomen #LIW. Get inspired!