If you are like me, you attend many networking events throughout the year looking for great people to meet. And if you are like me, you might also find that on some occasions, you feel like you are the most experienced businesswoman in the room. You may find yourself in the position of being the mentor vs being mentored.
I often return home after these events wondering if it was money well spent. Yes, I may have met a potential new client or a referral source but I am left feeling empty. I want to meet great women who know more than I do; those who have greater stories to learn from and be inspired by. I want to be the dumbest woman in the room!
I recently read an article about Ashley Morris, 34 years old and CEO of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop. This company has over 100 locations in the United States. Here’s a great business tip from him. “I aim to employ people who have education and skills that are above my own capabilities for all positions I hire for, effectively making me the dumbest person in the room.” Ashley has got it right. He is open to learning, curious about life and business, and flexible enough to take other’s opinions into consideration. He leaves his ego at the door.
For many business owners, being the ‘dumb’ one is hard. We have built our businesses on being the expert of something, whether it is products or services. However, we cannot be all things to all people. By asking for opinions, staying open to advice, taking courses, or improving our listening skills, not only do we grow as human beings, but our companies improve their top and bottom lines.
How did I solve my networking dilemma? As they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Three years ago, I was introduced to The Woman’s Advantage® Forum and its Founder, Mary Cantando. Through the year-long Forum program, Mary gives Forum members access to self-made women who have built highly profitable businesses. I decided to take this concept one step further and now organize large events where like-minded professional women are presented with the opportunity to meet and build relationships with more dynamic and highly experienced business owners.
I invite these business owners to share their journey, knowledge and insights. I listen carefully to their stories and the advice. Do I always apply it? Not necessarily. However, now that I have discovered how to be the dumbest woman in the room, the pressure is off me to provide answers. It is with a sense of relief that I can now sit back and just learn from the best.
Give it a try. Be the dumbest person in the room. What have you got to lose?