Am I the only one completely jazzed about the internet? Silly question I know. During this last deployment, even with WiFi challenges, I really developed an appreciation for the power of virtual connection. Being gone caused me to create online relationships I may never asked to meet had I been plugging along my normal life. I grabbed opportunities to reach into the net and find others in my tribe and also built relationships with mentors, peers, and mentees through online communication.
The Female All Calls lead to the creation of Wingwoman Wednesday (W3); a bi-monthly group that gathered for mentoring in addition to creating an additional outlet for safety and security. One day, I was ‘googling,’ discussion material for the topic “Mentors & Sponsors” and I found the article “How I Started a Military Mentor Network.” I found the Lean In Circle leader Lt Col Cashin on the military GAL and on a whim, emailed her…she immediately responded. In turn, she exposed me to the Mighty Bell community and we have already collaborated on joint projects such as Operation Albright. Everything quickly spiraled in such a positive direction all from one email I decided to write to a virtual stranger.
Then I discovered other like-minded groups; online supportive communities who inspired me to build my own platform, this site. It is thrilling to virtually meet others dedicated to leveling the military playing field…hmm, should I say battleground? Am now conjuring images of a GBU-38 JDAM…YES! Okay, my pension for violence is coming out…I’ll stick to playing field. I recognized my own passion for the empowerment and equality of women and I am thrilled to meet any women and men who feel the same.
Furthermore, the internet has become an incredible platform for generating social change. Though there are trolls and pervasive negative attitudes, I'm in awe of all the positive campaigns all generated from people passionately supporting a cause. In fact, I just read 23 Inspiring Feminist Digital Campaigns That Changed the World and am amazed at of how social media is making a difference.
Email relationships are also an excellent opportunity to seek and receive mentorship. During this deployment, I had the great fortune of meeting a phenomenal retired Colonel, currently working on her Doctorate; she has been very generous with her email time and has already taught me so much. In addition, I was able to reach out virtually and make connections with others on base even when our schedule prevented in person mentorship. Though I have a tendency towards wordiness…writing your questions/responses enables one to frame and think through your thoughts. I also had the opportunity to pay it forward, send emails and check-in with those I mentor. I also worked to keep in contact with my friends, though I can always improve in that department.
Is there someone out there you admire? Do you work with them or are they a total stranger? Shoot them a note, don’t say “Will you be my mentor” as Sheryl Sandberg dissuades in her book. Instead of something awkward, ask a question or advice on a specific topic. Or if they inspire you, simply let them know. I also recommend finding your online tribe; perhaps it is this topic or your passion for underwater basket weaving. The digital divide is truly bringing us closer in our interests and passions. As with this blog, positive working relationships and like minded individuals should be sought out across the world. Grow your network and grow yourself. My being deployed forced online connections I hope to expand upon now that I'm home.
Of course, I must mention I am also grateful for the internet to assist in maintaining relationships of all the people I met during this trip. The power of social networking has helped soften the goodbyes because I know I will still maintain a connection with all the wonderful folks I am grateful to have met.
Please comment and share:
Who are your online heroes?
Do you have any virtual communities you recommend?
Any email correspondence tips for others?
New to my blog? Read Outside Comfort Zone Connections - Part I, Reaching Up
Stay Tuned for Part III, Reaching Out…