In February 2016 my roommate met Alaina Shearer at the bar of a Columbus, Ohio networking event. She burst in the door of our two-bedroom apartment after the event, and the first words out of her mouth were, “I just met your spirit sister,” and she handed me Alaina’s business card.
Of course, the words “spirit animal” prompted many questions regarding her personality, wit and demeanor – all of which I was intrigued and impressed by. Before our conversation was over, I was already drafting an email, ready to reach out to “Alaina” the mysterious spirit animal, business guru and self-proclaimed “digital nerd” I had – just literally – been briefed on, but felt like I knew so well.
So Alaina and I exchanged a couple of emails, and I met her briefly at an event she held at her Columbus agency, Cement. But my heart was set on being near family in Chicago. So I found a job, moved back home, and our communication fizzled.
Fast forward to February 2017 and I’m spending some additional time perusing Instagram while commuting into work from the Chicago suburbs. I came across a post from Women in Digital, and started digging from there. Looking into their website, bingeing the Slings and Arrows podcast, and keeping tabs on their time at SXSW. I felt so connected to this group of women that had no idea who I was.
I emailed Alaina shortly after, asking if she’d expanded the group to Chicago. She hadn’t – and I adopted a new hobby.
Since then, I’ve become a founding member of Women in Digital. We communicate online every day with women whom we’ve never met. It’s a place to share opinions, ask questions and garner “pro tips” from the pros themselves.
And that, to me, is the power of digital women. The ability to influence, connect, empower and teach from our own separate corners of the earth. The “lingo” and technicalities of the digital world are still daunting to me at times. But to be a digital woman is not necessarily to have already mastered the world. It is to embrace it, learn all you can, and use it to its fullest extent.
This group has already taught and given me more than I could have expected. It gave me a place to feel comfortable sharing my experiences, a “group chat” for my digital girl-friends that keeps me enthused and intrigued – and it’s just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what our assembly of smart, empowered, Chicago digital women will add to this already outstanding group. Can’t wait for you all to witness the magic yourselves.
With heart emojis,