Every woman needs an inner circle (IC) of wise counsel and confidants. There may be more than one circle, but each should be fairly small and have a close-knit feel.
Who should be part of your inner circle?
My circles include women in their 20s up to women older than me, with a variety of ethnicities. My IC women are from a variety of backgrounds and industries. The one thing they have in common is that they are trustworthy and have discretion among their most admired traits. These IC women are generous with their advice when called upon, and are great listeners when listening is needed. These are relationships that will also expect reciprocation when appropriate. There should be a balance of give and take, otherwise it’s not a healthy IC.
A circle needs no geographic boundaries
These magic circles cannot be bound by geographical constraints. You can find these locally, of course, but your inner circle can encompass friends around the globe and across the country. I’ve experienced some great examples of this, such as the international connections you can make through larger professional associations. Get to know the leaders, and you can find a few who are ideal for your inner circle (IC). These are the women who will support you when others may not.
I have a friend who’s a great marketer. She moved to Switzerland, thousands of miles away, yet we are still connected to support one another through life challenges and successes.
Then there’s the brilliant managing partner of an accounting firm in St. Paul, Minnesota. We have connected during multiple trips to association conferences. We have co-chaired women’s initiative groups and developed a relationship. She was wise counsel when I was in transition. She has also called upon me as a resource when her husband needed accounting assistance in our geographic region.
What does an IC friend look like?
Cultivate and value women friends who support one another, share leads and stay alert for opportunities. The traits I find most important for an inner circle friend are:
- Not a “queen bee” type (she doesn’t have to be the center of attention, and forms connections with an eye on relationships, not transactions.)
- Attentive to others’ skill sets and goals
- Collaborative approach
- Genuine interest in promoting other women leaders
- Positive perspective and well-informed about a specific industry or career role
Life lesson unpacked: Build your inner circle with women who are generous with their time and connections, and are ready to reciprocate. I think these circles are the MAGIC behind career success.