Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Chesterfield Chamber, Women’s Alliance Luncheon where Abigail Spanberger, Virginia Congress woman, was the guest speaker. I thought her practical advice for business was spot on.

Recently I moved to Richmond, VA from the DC area and have been pleasantly surprised at the number of powerful, insightful, friendly women in business here. Every event I have attended, I walk away with new contacts and women that inspire me to want to do more. Abigail Spanberger is one of those women.
She spoke about how she entered Congress at a tough time during a government shutdown and in spite of all the horror stories you hear about DC, she commented that she has been surprised by the comradery and willingness to get things done in Washington.

Here are my takeaways from the talk she gave:

1. Focus on your core beliefs and the main challenges you are trying to solve. She spoke about her passions including Broad Band availability. She is focused on getting Broad Band to rural areas that don’t have access or high-speed access to the internet. Without this technology these rural areas are lacking access for families and children to education, jobs, and knowledge. Having access to information quickly for business and education is key to staying competitive in today’s world. By increasing Broad Band to these areas across the country, it will have a huge impact on the economy. Personally, I’m for increasing Broad Band so businesses can take advantage of modern cloud technology.
2. Ask a lot of questions. This is true for any business or process. Representative Spanberger commented that she was still “learning the ropes” in her new role and one of her favorite things to do is to ask questions. She commented that she can be one of those annoying people that just keep asking questions. Specifically, she likes to ask “Why”. Curiosity is the key to understanding and asking questions, especially the tough questions, helps you get the knowledge to make the right decisions. In my job, trying to understand the accounting and business processes of many different types of businesses. The “Why” questions can really lead to interesting information you might not get otherwise. I also like to ask, “Why do you do it that way?” and “What is the business reason for doing this way?”.
3. What can we agree on? When meeting with other groups that might not agree with your beliefs or agenda, she recommends going into those meetings with the mantra of “What can we agree on?”. In many cases, even with colleagues, neighbors or customers, you might have preconceived notions about their beliefs or goals. Going into to meeting with an open mind and focusing on finding common ground instead of focusing on your differences can really help move a project, bill or issue forward.

Wrapping up

In wrapping up, Representative Spanberger stressed the need for amplifying women’s success and especially women in business. I can say as a new resident of Richmond that the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce and the other business organizations I have been introduced to here in Richmond, strive for the same thing!

Suzy Zgorski
Assistant Vice President, Business Development