Rachael Romig: Connecting women leaders in Berks County

She sat down with me recently to talk about her work and how the group has grown. The questions and answers are below. The Q & A has been edited for space and clarity.

Lehigh Valley Business: Your position involves a lot of networking, so you have seen the good and the bad of the process. What are some of the top networking mistakes to avoid?

Rachael Romig: One of the biggest tips I offer is to actually care about who you are meeting. Many go to networking events and collect as many business cards as possible. Hey, that’s one way to do it, but could you then tell me anything about any one of those people? You want to make a connection with someone, show them you are listening. People go to networking events looking for “the sale” or meeting the “perfect potential client” and by doing that you are missing excellent connections that could be made. I’m also a big advocate for following up afterward and keeping the relationship going. Send a holiday card even.

LVB: What have you found makes a good speaker, or a good panel. What do you look for when you are scouting out talent and content?

Romig: We gather ideas from our committees and council; what have they seen recently, what have they heard, and of course, what’s happening at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women? We also survey our Women2Women attendees after every event and ask them what they want to hear and learn more about.

When looking for a speaker or panel we look at if the presenter has spoken publicly before, on what topics, and if there are any videos or reviews online. We have got an excellent pool of talented and successful women here in Berks who want to share their stories and help other women. But we don’t turn women away if they have never told their story before. We also like to offer these opportunities to women to help them grow too.

LVB: You have a side hustle now, what started that process? How are you balancing your time with that?

Romig: #sidehustle! Yes, a little over a year ago I opened my own event and wedding planning business Just Breathe. Weddings & Events. I started planning national trade shows, then planned local events and weddings of all kinds, and as I grew professionally and took different routes I continued event planning for friends and family. It was Halloween 2017 when a couple referred to me booked me to handle day-of coordination for their wedding. … It was then that I realized I had a skill set people were looking for, that I took for granted, and started to formulate Just Breathe.

The balancing act is tough sometimes. I literally live the “work/life balance” conversation that everyone is having. I have to plan out my whole month sometimes to include W2W events, blocking out time for Just Breathe., work, spending time with my husband and fur babies, our families and our friends, attending community events, and maybe just reading a book. It can be exhausting but I live by the calendar I keep. I’ve even gotten my husband on board with our calendar because it shares all that I have going on. Many nights I’m not home until around 8:30 p.m. so we also meal plan for the week so that we are also sticking to our budget. Adulting is hard. But we are killing it.

LVB: Tell me about the Women2Women group. How would one get involved? Why would you want to get involved?

Romig: Wome2Women is a special program of the alliance and its 11th year. Our mission is to develop more women leaders by providing a forum where women from diverse backgrounds can learn, share ideas and mentor each other. It encourages women to grow through creating connections, gaining knowledge, building strategic alliances and much more, so that we may lead together. We also offer a Latina Initiative, De Mujer a Mujer, which brings Latina women from our community together to do the exact same in an open and communicative space. De Mujer a Mujer turned 5 this year!

Any woman, and anyone who supports women, can join our membership for free at berkswomen2women.com. We host monthly professional and personal development workshops in Berks with local women presenters who share their stories, setbacks and successes with us and how they continued to thrive.

Getting involved is not only an opportunity to meet other like-minded women but it’s an opportunity to better yourself. We “develop women leaders” and the word “leader” means something different to everyone. Whether you want to grow in your current professional role, take a board seat, be the lead of the PTA or a volunteer group, or just hone in on the skills that you know you could improve, we have something from everyone and we’re here to support your goals.

LVB: Anything else that you want to add?

Romig: I always like to wrap up a conversation about Women2Women with WHY we do what we do and how we’ll be able to continue to push the needle forward for women in the workplace. Here are some interesting facts:

Forty seven percent of women surveyed feel they have less access to professional development and the career advancement afforded their male counterparts. Based on 200 in-depth interviews with “high potential” millennials around the world, millennial employees are interested in 4 things: data and measurement of a company’s employees satisfaction, more communication, mentorship, & professional growth opportunities.

-Fairygodboss

Gender diversity plays a central role in attracting and retaining top talent, as well as helping organizations maintain a competitive edge. A recent study showed that companies in the top quartile for gender and ethnic diversity display financial returns above their respective national industry median.

-McKinsey & Company

In a professional development program that is focused on women, female attendees receive personalized attention from female facilitators who have made their way through to executive roles. These shared experiences are invaluable for women in the workforce as it gives them first-hand guidance on how best to navigate a business world that is sometimes geared to men.

-Donny Walford, FAICD, SA Venture Capital Fund

Last year, a study of more than 21,000 public companies in 91 countries by the Peterson Institute, a US think-tank, and EY, the professional services firm, found that bringing more women into higher management boosted profitability. It said a company with 30 percent female leadership could expect to add up to six percentage points to its net margin when compared with a similar business with no female leaders.

-Financial Times, September 2017

These stats go to show to why having women in leadership is extremely important – for businesses, for the bottom line, for the flow of new and diverse ideas, and for the world in general. Women2Women is here to make positive change through supporting and empowering women … you know, half of our population on Earth. And we want to do it with the help of men. We can’t do it without men. We need to work together to make this positive change.

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