By Claire Richmond | Founder, Hello and High Five

On weekend mornings during race season, you’ll often find me on the side of a trail with a giant poster, cowbells and a thermos of coffee. I high-five thousands of runners and walkers. I yell until my throat hurts.

Something happens when runners see me and my little band of cheerleaders. They speed up. They smile. They get out of their own heads. Even though they don’t know us and we don’t know them, we high-five and share a moment. We tell them “you’ve got this!” and they thank us for being there.

When we’re there for others, whether to celebrate or commiserate, we foster an environment of meaningful connections. People frequently ask why I started my business. The simple answer? To support others. But there’s been a great benefit to my business and me as well, one that wasn’t part of my original intent. People support me back.

When others in your professional circles support you and your business, you want to support them, too. And when people are cheering you on, doesn’t it motivate you to “speed up” in achieving your goals?

What would happen if we were more intentional about recognizing when women around us are struggling? Or women around us are absolutely killing it? What if we created cheer corners in our professional lives?

Here are a few things that help me support others in my professional life:

  • I limit my need for competition to sports-watching. What I know to be true is that the compulsion to compete is a choice. When we view our sisters in business as rivals, it sucks the fun out of what each of us is accomplishing on the journey. Plus, it limits our ability to learn from shared experiences. Get in touch with someone who has the thing you wish you had, lift her up and learn from her.

  • I get real, because it helps people relate to you. My health journey has challenged me in the last year, but it’s opened up an opportunity to be candid on my social media channels about how I’m progressing in business and fitness in new ways. People don’t know how to cheer for you if you don’t tell them.

  • On a similar vein, I don’t take things personally. For me, this mindset takes some reminders and some empathy. I think about the tunnel vision I have when I’m going through something significant in my business or personal life. If you haven’t heard from a colleague in a while, it’s possible she’s in this same place. Reach out first.

I send handwritten notes. Clearly I’m a big fan of greeting cards, or as I like to call them, “snail mail high-fives.” Writing them is an easy way to practice gratitude and acknowledge that you’re paying attention to the things going on in the lives of others. And receiving an unexpected note in the mailbox makes my day. It doesn’t take much, just a line or two. 

What happens when we prioritize supporting colleagues, fellow businesswomen, vendors and clients? We build a connection that goes deeper than handshakes and small talk. We build authentic networks of women who can become our business partners, mentors, friends and an endless source of high-fives.

Claire Richmond is the founder and designer of Hello And High Five, greeting cards for your fitness friends. She lives with a life-threatening metabolic disorder, which shapes her perspective on fitness, business and mental health. She believes in the power of greeting cards to project positivity and gratitude into the world. Claire is a graphic designer, a runner, an RRCA-certified adult running coach and a FemCity Des Moines business member. Connect with Claire via email.