Women peer mentoring programs are increasingly beneficial to fostering successful companies and careers.

As more women are appointed to senior executive levels of their respective companies and are running their own businesses the greater the need for networks where they can grow their business and feel empowered by their peers becomes. South Florida has hundreds of all-female professional networks designed for this purpose. Many hinge on a particular career niche, to assist their members in their goals and ambitions, guiding them through challenges specific to their group.

South Florida has the largest concentration of family-owned and operated businesses in the country and there are professional networks that not only cater to those businesses, but specifically the women who run these companies. Their challenges are different from the challenges of the men that run family-owned businesses but not necessarily all that different from women who are in a different business classification all together. Their networks may be designed to allow them to be surrounded by like-minded women but they may be missing the “out of the box” thinker, success-orientated women that could motivate them to excel even further.

One of the most valuable aspects in business networks is peer-to-peer mentoring. Through mentoring programs, members receive a solid support system of professional resources and information from women who share common goals and a wider knowledge and understanding of managing workplace conflict and individual work-related challenges. They use their personal stories of success and learn from their failures to teach each other how to best deal with situations – which inevitably reveals that they have all been in similar situations before, in one way or another.

These programs, typically monthly, provide face-to-face interactions for women in business who share the same business challenges, struggles, and victories. It is through this discovered commonality that they break down their walls and are able to be totally vulnerable to get to the root of their challenges and collaboratively find a solution.

Peer mentors offer clear, direct, candid, and fearless guidance and feedback and are a sounding board for their peers. Members are in the best position to help each other delve into the real business issues they each face and to explore the most effective leadership strategies.

Peer-to-peer mentoring challenges women to explore specific issues they face in business and develop growth strategies for their companies, while promoting encouraging spirit. Because they meet with the same women every month, they become very well acquainted their group and their specific business issues, making each session more beneficial than the last. These groups aim to provide members with the tools, resources, and support they need for growth and development of their business, ultimately helping them cultivate successful companies and careers. It is a fantastic experience and has proved to be pivotal in demonstrating the power of female peer groups.

Confidentiality is a critical element to the success of peer-to-peer mentoring. Only when members know they are participating in an open, honest, and safe environment do they feel comfortable enough to share their deepest concerns and discuss sensitive issues without judgment. They know their issues are not falling on deaf ears and they will be countered with valued input and guidance.

In their meetings they are able to share business tactics for expansion, contacts and referrals, advice about how to lead others and dealing with difficult employees, and create the space for honest dialogue around work-life balance, both professional and personal challenges, and common goals. Peer mentoring deals with career successes, failures, leadership, and generally offering solutions to gain control of your professional and personal life.

TCI was founded on the strength of peer mentoring. Our membership includes CEOs, senior corporate executives, entrepreneurs, directors of nonprofits and solo professionals who are committed to building successful businesses, organizations and careers. We come from a range of industries and from a variety of backgrounds. We run large companies, we lead small companies, we manage nonprofits, we work as sole proprietors. We are a community of women offering a collaborative brain trust for fellow members and a platform for each of us to achieve our goals. with executive forums. The cornerstone program of all these networks, peer-to-peer mentoring, provides women with support, resources, and personalized advice at every which they are able to directly apply them to their careers.

Please email us at lkdavis@commonwealthinstitute.org or call us at 305.799.6547 if you would like to learn more about our peer mentoring forums.

Laurie Kaye Davis is the Executive Director of The Commonwealth Institute (TCI). TCI is a non-profit organization devoted to advancing businesswomen in leadership positions in Massachusetts and Florida. We are ambitious, success-oriented women committed to growing our respective organizations and to supporting each other as we accomplish our individual goals.