By Wendy Harmon, AVP, Partner Programs at RingCentral
Happy International Womens’ Day! As we celebrate all of our wonderful accomplishments as women in tech, it’s important to reflect on how we got here. This is especially true in the channel, where women have made great strides in bringing their experience to the table in a historically male-dominated space.
In light of this, we asked some of our Alliance of Channel Women (ACW) members to reflect on their journeys, and share a few of the tips that helped them take charge and reach success. Here’s what they had to say!
Wendy Harmon – AVP, Partner Programs
First off, I’ll share mine.
For me, confidence is key. The channel can often seem like a male-dominated space, so it can be tough as a woman to speak up when you know what you’re talking about. A lot of the time, during that process, you have to trust your gut. Women have strong intuition, and in the workplace, that intuition can help make the right call.
Finally, find a mentor, male or female. It doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement, but finding someone you can trust to hear your situation with no judgment and give you advice will help you advance.
Hannah Slaton – Partner Programs Manager, Strategic Partners
“No matter what, it’s important to raise your hand and say ‘yes’ to the big challenges and opportunities. Take the initiative and seek to proactively solve problems in your unique way. It’s all about being open minded, building your own personal brand, and exposing yourself to new and sometimes uncomfortable opportunities in order to grow.”
Jenny Kimbley – Sr. Partner Programs Manager
“Always consider your audience. Think about what they care about and craft your message around that. You’ll be able to speak more clearly and effectively with them if you’re on the same page.
Next, get on the agenda of a meeting! You have valuable insight and this way you can share it. Sometimes you just have to self-advocate and put yourself out there to make yourself heard.
Lastly, if you’re feeling intimidated by your audience, always remember that a little confidence goes a long way. If necessary, take a couple of minutes before an intimidating meeting and strike a power pose! You’ll bolster chemicals of confidence in your brain which will help you stay focused and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.”
Stephanie Strahl – Partner Programs Manager
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Coming into the channel can be intimidating in the sense of not only not knowing how things run organizationally within the channel at your company, but also how everything connects outside of it, too—such as agents, technology solutions distributors, strategic and national partners, etc. If you’re not familiar with how the channel runs, it’s okay to ask questions and set yourself up for success quicker!
Next, build relationships with other people in the channel, both at your org and other companies through events, meetings, LinkedIn, etc. and stay connected. The more you network and get to know others in the channel, the better.
Finally, don’t forget to learn from your peers. By observing how they handle certain situations and taking note, you can avoid making repeated mistakes and nail things the first time through.”
Holly Zinn – Director, Partner Product Programs, CX
“I would say to any woman entering the channel to be herself! There is room for everyone. I would encourage them to not be intimidated and to actively speak up and reach out to women who inspire them. Some of my most meaningful times have been learning from women who have sat in my shoes before. I think that while it is male dominated, women are making strides. There are so many incredible, accomplished women doing big things in the channel.
My top advice would be to build your circle or network. Make friends with women who you look up to or just enjoy interacting with, and work to nurture those relationships. My tribe has helped me in both my professional and personal life. It’s comforting to know there are other women and moms that are going through the same daily grind that I am.”
Kathy Bellamy – Director, Partner Programs
“I’d have to say three things: Build your network, be authentic, and advocate for yourself.”
Looking over everything our ACW ladies had to say, a few tips stand out. Confidence is a big driver in success regardless of gender. But for women in the channel, it truly helps show your peers that you have the intuition and the expertise to make a difference in your organization.
Hand in hand with that confidence is self advocating. No one is going to go to bat for you without knowing what you have to offer, so you’ve got to be vocal, eager, and ready to show your peers everything you’ve got!
Finally, one of the most important ways to establish yourself as a woman in the channel is to build your network and find your “tribe.” Surrounding yourself with good people not only helps you learn from others’ experiences, but helps you find people that can help mentor you into the best version of yourself you can be. Plus, as you progress in your career, those connections will help you get a leg up.
We hope these tips will help you and your channel career take off! Here at RingCentral, we know we’re stronger when diverse voices are heard, and that’s why we’re happy to sponsor and promote the ACW, working together to bring the achievements of women into the forefront of the tech industry.
As AVP of Global Partner Programs, Wendy Harmon heads RingCentral’s worldwide channel partner enablement and support. In leading her team, Wendy strives to create a balance between innovative risk and the need for discipline, standards and consistency. Her mantra is to hire great people, build a framework to support them, and then empower them with the independence to do their best work. Prior to joining RingCentral, Wendy led global on-premises and SaaS teams for 14 years, most recently at Hubble by insightsoftware.com.