Why Events For Women, By Women Are The Future Of Professional Growth

Sarah Shewey

Sarah Shewey

Founder and CEO, Happily

When women come together, incredible things happen.

Events are super powerful tools for reaching any goal you have in mind — from hitting business targets to building a community, drumming up leads, or shaping a brand. It is all about creating experiences that bring us together — helping us connect with the content that matters, the products we love, and, most importantly, each other.

Leading your planning with a clear, central message opens up a world of possibilities, putting the power to shape these connections right in your hands. I want to start this off by reassuring you that whatever you're dreaming of for your event programs, it can be done. Events can be anything you need or want them to be, without sticking to the "usual" format of doing things. As women, we're no strangers to being underestimated or hearing 'no'. So, here's a big 'yes!' from me to you.

For more expert insights watch our Happily Webinar: Events with Grrrrrl Power!

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At Happily we comprehensively design and produce experiences across the globe and around the country — from big-brand summits and nonprofit fundraisers to founder retreats, receptions, commencements, vodcasts and more. Whether onsite, virtual or hybrid, my team and I specialize in bringing people together in spaces to shine as their authentic self. Every event is designed with its audience at its heart, especially for female-focused gatherings where the entire experience is fundamentally shaped to resonate with them.

For women, it is so important to build our own community and connect in ways that don't always happen naturally at mixed-gender events. Having our own gatherings allows us to foster genuine connections. In these curated spaces we can engage in the ways we need and want, discussing and learning about the aspects of our lives that make up our daily experiences, challenges, and achievements. Events designed for women, by women, have a distinct look and feel, highlighting their role in our professional and personal growth. This uniqueness is exactly what makes them so important.

For more expert insights watch our Happily Webinar: Events with Grrrrrl Power!

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Female Founder Fund's 2024 CEO Summit at the New York Stock Exchange, with Happily as their production partner

A Space To Be Unapologetically Ambitious

Women-focused events offer something priceless: a judgment-free zone where ambition is celebrated, not questioned. It's about creating an environment where you can share your dreams and plans without the fear of being seen as "too much." These events are about lifting each other up. Here, every woman is encouraged to embrace her aspirations fully, fostering a collective rise to greatness.

As the Founder and CEO of Happily, I've been on a more than ten-year journey through the entrepreneurial landscape, a place where women's ambitions can sometimes be sidelined. Finding a community that not only supports but also celebrates a woman's ambitions and vision can be incredibly transformative. Events for women cultivate a feeling of empowerment and unity, providing a solid foundation for women as they navigate both the triumphs and challenges of their professional lives. It's within this supportive network of driven and like-minded women that true inspiration is found, emboldening each to pursue their goals.

For more expert insights watch our Happily Webinar: Events with Grrrrrl Power!

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Embracing Our Whole Selves

Personally, I am not just a Founder / CEO — I am a mom, wife, sister, friend, vinyl record collector and much more. Attending a professional event where we can bring our entire selves to the table is so important. It feels liberating to embrace and lean into all aspects of our lives, not only acknowledging our ambitions but also the full spectrum of our reality and responsibilities.

Authentic connections grow in places where discussions flow freely, bridging the gap between professional goals and personal journeys. In these comfortable environments, conversations evolve organically, fostering a deeper understanding among attendees. It is the role of expert experiential design and programming to create a space where women know that here in this room, you are not just your job title, you can be your whole self.

For more expert insights watch our Happily Webinar: Events with Grrrrrl Power!

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Pear VC's 2024 Female Founder Retreat in Palm Springs, with Happily as the production parnter. Photo by Brianna Broyles.

Networking That Actually Empowers

Let's be real: traditional networking can sometimes feel like a chore (and a bore!). But at events tailored for women, it's a whole different approach. Networking styles vary across genders, and the magic of experiential design lies in its ability to tailor these experiences to fit the audience perfectly — honoring their communication preferences, the depth of conversations they seek, and their available time to engage.

Some quick advice for designing networking opportunities for women:

  • Women are more than just their work. Allow the space of their conversations to cover their whole experience as a woman.
  • Learn more about each of your guests and curate their experience accordingly. Knowing what type of connections they are looking for can help you design more meaningful experiences for everyone involved.
  • Make your guests feel like they already know each other with an attendee directory. Gating relationships loses trust and worse, the opportunity to build a real community. When we can walk into a room full of strangers and already put faces to names, it makes starting conversations so much easier.

For more expert insights watch our Happily Webinar: Events with Grrrrrl Power!

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Customized Content That Hits Different

Forget about one-size-fits-all. In the diverse and specific landscape of women's careers, generic advice simply doesn't cut it. The beauty of women-focused events lies in their ability to offer insights and strategies tailored specifically to the real life challenges and opportunities we face. From workshops on funding to panels on balancing life and leadership, the takeaways are always actionable, and, most importantly, relevant. It’s all about those moments when the audience is nodding along, thinking "Yes, that's exactly what I needed to hear!”

What an event for women, by women, offers is content and conversations they’d be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The highly focused curation of sessions, workshops, and panels ensures that the material reflects the actual stories, experiences, and needs of the audience, creating a stronger bond and a sense of belonging. This thoughtful approach also applies to the selection of talent and speakers, guaranteeing that the messages are from people who are highly relevant to those listening.

Some quick advice for programming content for women:

  • Imposter syndrome runs deep, and hearing from powerhouses about how they navigate theirs always sets a good tone.
  • Keep it positive, but don’t feel a need to sugarcoat content. Women can handle tough conversations and appreciate their nuances.
  • 1:1s feel more intimidating than small group conversations, especially in a conference setting where you don’t know folks yet.

For more expert insights watch our Happily Webinar: Events with Grrrrrl Power!

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Chelsea Clinton at the Female Founder Fund's 2023 CEO Summit in New York, with Happily as their production partner

Empowered Women Empower Others

Women-focused events are powerful catalysts for change, showcasing the strength of female stories, and affirming that reaching ambitious goals is absolutely possible. These gatherings foster a supportive community that understands the unique challenges faced by women, offering a sense of solidarity that uplifts our professional and personal resilience.

During Women's History Month, we pay tribute to the courageous, intelligent, and frequently unsung female pioneers who have shaped our world. Reflecting on the trailblazers before us, from the global Suffragette movement to the persistent efforts of women who continue to advocate and protest, underscores the incredible power of women coming together. Our diversity, empathy, and collective drive stand as our greatest strengths, propelling us forward as a united force.

For more expert insights watch our Happily Webinar: Events with Grrrrrl Power!

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Happily Event Producer and Registration Team at the 2024 CEO Summit by the Female Founders Fund

In spaces where we feel supported by others, our confidence thrives as we bond with people who understand us.

It's in these communities and events that we really start to grow, both in our careers and personal lives. These experiences are launching pads for facing the big challenges that hold women back, inspiring everyone to keep going, keep building, keep thriving — all thanks to the collective power of community behind us.

For more expert insights watch our Happily Webinar: Events with Grrrrrl Power!