6 Helpful Strategies For Women to Thrive in Male-Dominated Industries

As I established my career, I found ways to stay motivated and optimistic on a daily basis through the highs and lows.

McKinney Capital & Advisory COO, finalist of Connected Women of Influence’s “Women Breaking Barriers” award and finalist of San Diego Business Journal’s Business Woman of the Year, shares weekly reminders she set for herself as she built her career.

1) Ask to be a part of every opportunity that interests you – no one is going to do it for you.

During the first decade of my career, getting in this “go-getting” habit was crucial for opening the right doors. Never hesitating to do so became what I was known for and it continues to influence the way I pursue opportunities to this day.

2) Make your presence known by appearing 100% confident (even if you aren’t).

Never be afraid to make yourself known. Speak with intelligence and convey confidence, while also taking the time to listen to every person you meet. By doing so, you will effectively command and earn the respect of both your male and female peers.

3) Always count the number of women in the room.

Are you the only woman in the room? Or, are there more women than you thought there would be? Either way, let the outcome empower you. When I first started attending meetings and conferences, it was common for me to be the only woman in the room. Instead of feeling intimidated by these circumstances, I harnessed it to serve as the turning point in my career as a woman in the business world. I continue to engage in this practice today with every event I attend. It will forever be a long-standing mental game with myself.

4) Establish a relatable connection with another person that draws out an emotion.

Find a way to connect with others when introducing yourself – whether it is having attended the same university (feeling of joy with reflecting on good memories from that time in your life), coming from the same heritage (feeling of closeness that family brings and similar cultures and beliefs), or even having a similar tragedy (brings out a feeling of vulnerability). When you can relate to others, they normally let down their guards and trust you. The relationship can grow organically from there – it doesn’t feel forced or fake because it’s genuine.

5) Be an expert in one thing – and do all you can to know everything about it.

No one enjoys being with a know-it-all who steals the conversation, and no one remembers the generalist that knew a little bit about a lot of unimportant or uninteresting things. People highly respect and admire others that are focused and dedicated to excelling at something that they are passionate about (i.e. my Ultrarunning – someone I’m speaking to may not have running in common with me, but they are intrigued by my dedication and knowledge of the sport.)

Likewise, when I am with people that are specialized in their industry (i.e. a chef or a brain surgeon), you may want to ask them questions in a field they know so much about, because you see them as having instant credibility. People enjoy hearing facts and learning new things so tell them information that is quantifiable (i.e. there are 10,000 brain surgeries a year or there are 15,000 ultra-runners in the whole world).

6) No matter your age, be educated about history in your field – if you haven’t lived through it yet chances are you will, as it is commonly believed that history repeats itself. And if you have lived through it, share the knowledge as a mentor.

It demonstrates being a planner and a forward thinker because you are motivated to learn about the past, so you can determine how to be proactive for the future. State facts from these experiences as a mentoring moment – those who may be earlier in their career like to learn from others and appreciate mentors (i.e. the four economic cycles left X number of people out of jobs, or it took X number of dollars to bail out the banks.)

As I continue to take on challenges in the commercial real estate industry, I look forward to learning new ways to create opportunities for myself and others here at McKinney Capital & Advisory.