11 Women Leaders on How to Make Your Voice Heard
Here is some great advice from female leaders who are breaking barriers in the tech industry.
To succeed, entrepreneurs of all stripes need to advocate for themselves, but they don't always know how to do it effectively.
We turned to a group of innovative female mentors and leaders from Techstars accelerator programs and asked them to share one piece of advice on how entrepreneurs can stand up and make an impact for themselves, their teams and their companies. Click through the slides to see what they had to say.
Don't be shy in group meetings.
"One great way to advocate for yourself is to speak up during meetings and provide the type of insight that gets you noticed. Over time, if you engage in important discussions and add value in a team environment (vs. just one-on-one environments), your team will start not only noticing you but listening to you and even reaching out to you for advice. So when the time comes and you want to ask for something, they will already be there to listen." -- Maya Baratz Jordan, managing director of Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator
Make the ask.
"I used to tell my team to 'Say what you need.' I'd point out that many of their co-workers (often male) were already doing that -- and that those who ask often get. So be sure to make the ask." -- Jenna Walker, managing director for Techstars Sustainability Accelerator
Take your own advice.
"When you feel unsure about advocating for yourself, think about how you would advise a good friend if they were in your position. Would you want that friend to advocate for themselves? And what would you tell that friend to say? Take that advice you crafted for your friend and use it to advocate for yourself!" -- Mee-Jung Jang, managing director of the MetLife Digital Accelerator Powered by Techstars
Know the facts.
"Do your homework. Grounding your position in facts is important, and will build your confidence as you advocate. If you are asking for a raise, base your argument on the value you are creating as opposed to a fairness argument or comparing yourself to another employee." -- Anna Barber, managing director of Techstars LA Accelerator
Related: 10 Things Confident People Don't Do
Encourage discussion, not arguments.
"Learn how to phrase your views in a constructive way. I've experienced when a person holds a different view or belief than me phrases it in an attacking way -- which can put me on the defensive, and then I don't really 'hear' the view, rather I'm arguing against it. Write your viewpoint down, get feedback on it from multiple sources, and craft it in such a way that encourages open and honest discussion, rather than argument." -- Nicole Glaros, partner and chief product officer at Techstars
Speak your audience's language."Put it in your boss's language. If she is data driven, then explain your view in terms of hard numbers and facts. If he is relationship oriented, then conveying the impact to your team, customers, and other stakeholders will get your point across better. Understanding your boss or colleague's communication style is essential for managing up and advocating for yourself. You want to express your view in the way that will be most understood and effective so that you ensure your valuable perspective is being heard. Your thoughts deserve to be shared." -- Kelly Fryer, Program Manager, Barclays NYC Accelerator, powered by Techstars
Don't undermine yourself.
"Stop qualifying your opinions before sharing them. It undermines the point and your conviction." -- Zoe Schlag, managing director of the Techstars Impact Accelerator
Define clear goals.
"In any project, whether it's software development or business development or marketing, it's important to create clear KPIs or goals. This helps people who have a hard time advocating for themselves because it provides a framework for people to describe their success." -- Claudia Reuter, managing director of Stanley + Techstars Additive Manufacturing Accelerator
Don't be too humble.
"People should always report their achievements and start conversations or engage conversations by referring to them. It is important that one learns all the details, facts and numbers associated with these achievements so when called upon, one is able to refer to them accurately." -- Hilla Ovil-Brenner, managing director of Barclays Accelerator
Sharing is caring!"Be steadfast about sharing material that backs up your viewpoint, whether it be via social media or by sending content: articles papers, book reviews, events -- the list goes on and on. Find an app or tool that helps manage posts or reminds you to send messages so the information, and your thoughts, keep coming. It's tough getting over the feeling that you need 'prove' your views, but once you start a good narrative that links your experience, your communities, and the company's goals, there's no turning back. It's true in practice: sharing is caring. When you show that your intentions align with the welfare of the organization, they'll care too." -- Opeola Bukola, Program Manager, Comcast NCU Lift Labs, powered by Techstars
Find a friend to brag about you.
"Find a peer/sponsor to advocate for you. Having someone else tell your story or introduce you in a way you won't introduce yourself is powerful. The more you hear someone else describe your awesomeness the more easily you will be able to own that language." -- Lesa Mitchell, managing director of Techstars Kansas City