How Important Is Confidence?
My role as “The Network Catalyst” is to facilitate communication by starting conversations that make a difference, conversations that transform thought into action and encourage individuals, businesses and teams to build strong relationships and provide support. The benefit of encouraging and supporting constructive communication is confidence—when people develop confidence in their capacity to communicate effectively, they interact more effectively and can explore and discover ways to work and engage to achieve mutually desirable outcomes.
I gain a great deal of satisfaction from watching people become more confident in the way they describe their business, share stories of how they help others, exchange ideas, develop conversation skills and support each other. It takes confidence to step outside your comfort zone, connect, and develop trust, but if you are willing to take the necessary steps, magic can happen and opportunities are uncovered.
CONFIDENCE IS KEY
I took a gamble when I started YTM in 2013 but since then I have been able to help more than 2000 business owners and professionals make the right connections, be able to confidently express their value, and clarify their purpose and intent as they have also cemented many business relationships, starting from a simple conversation.
I know many people find networking uncomfortable. I believe this has a lot to do with their confidence and ability to make conversation with strangers especially when they feel under pressure to create new business and produce sales. But networking is not about sales, it is about relationships, and relationships start from conversations.
CONFIDENCE IS TRANSFORMATIONAL
About five years ago, my husband, Leigh became a volunteer mentor with Fitted For Work, a not-for-profit organisation that has supported over 30,000 women across Australia, women facing financial disadvantage. Fitted For Work seeks economic independence and empowerment for women and their mission is:
“… to help women experiencing disadvantage get work, keep work and navigate their world of work. We do this by developing each woman’s confidence and self-esteem as well as her skills and knowledge to obtain work through a suite of tailored pre-and post-employment programs and services that are delivered nationally.”
Financial independence is so important, not only for the individual, but also for their families and our society. We all know self-confidence and self-esteem improve our outlook and capacity to face challenges and live well.
CEO of Fitted For Work Donna de Zwart told me recently: “As women we tend to be very hard on ourselves, we tell ourselves that we are not enough. This does nothing but rob us of our confidence. The greatest asset we have is self-compassion. When we afford ourselves that kindness we become more accepting creating a pathway towards self-belief.”
Reflecting on my own childhood when my mother became the sole breadwinner, I can relate to many of the challenges experienced by Fitted For Work mentees. I’m sure there were times when my mother felt she was facing overwhelming odds. I am so glad there is now an organisation dedicated to providing women in difficult circumstances with practical assistance and support. It doesn’t make it easy but it does make a difference, and sometimes that is enough.
Leigh was the first male mentor engaged by Fitted For Work, and has been instrumental in mentoring several women to achieve and remain in employment. Some of Leigh’s mentees had been seeking employment for more than two years. Fitted For Work provided transition to work programs, clothing assistance and Leigh was able to help them through the process of applying for jobs and managing interviews. He saw them change and grow in confidence and capacity as he listened, discussed their concerns, bounced ideas around, helped prepare them for the job market and championed their progress. Once they were employed, he continued to help them navigate unfamiliar situations in the workplace.
Another mentee Leigh worked with had lost her job through illness. With support and encouragement she realised she had transferable skills and eventually started her own micro business to turn her circumstances around.
These women are now role models for their children, families and others in their community. They reached out to find connections and through those connections have built enough confidence to transform their lives. Our society needs role models like these women who show that with support, persistence, determination, self-belief and confidence, anything is possible. In the words of Fitted For Work:
“… when women are fitted for work they are fitted for life. They know that when women have hope, confidence and economic security through work, the flow on effect is transformational, both to their families and to society as a whole”.
YTM supports the efforts of Fitted For Work. If you know any women in need of support, please refer them to Fitted For Work which provides a range of free services. You may also like to get involved and help by donating money or unwanted workplace clothing to their shop, or by supporting their events, or considering how you could volunteer your time or expertise.