On Being a Cheerleader.

On Being a Cheerleader
dress // heels

On Being a Cheerleader

I was recently asked to give my best networking advice and I had to think about it for a minute.

I strongly dislike networking in the more traditional sense of the word: attending conferences, making small talk, swapping business cards, sending follow up emails the next day. It all just feels forced and disingenuous to me. The idea of meeting people for the sole purpose of furthering your professional interests just feels a little bit icky. (And if I meet someone and it feels like that is what they’re looking for… I tend to avoid that person.)

My disdain for networking in the traditional sense is one of the reasons why I am happiest in a profession that allows me to (mostly) stay home, sit behind a computer, and write. Of course, the industry has changed quite a bit since the beginning and now there are dinners, events, and conferences… but I try to be really careful about what I say yes to and how much I take on as I find those things really draining. Prior to running my site full time I had a more traditional career, working for three large companies and then a startup. While I formed some really close friendships in the workplace, I dreaded going to networking events and conferences. I did it out of obligation, but I didn’t enjoy it. Maybe I never would have been successful in a more traditional career; I guess we’ll never know.

I have so much admiration and respect for my more charismatic, extroverted friends… people who will walk into a room of strangers and walk out with five new best friends (or professional relationships). This is my friend Alex to a tee and she amazes me.

There is, however, one thing I can do – that I really enjoy!

It is a small but important thing: being a cheerleader and supporting other people’s endeavors, especially other women.

I do this with my friends (if a friend launches a new project you better believe I will be first in line to buy their product or spread the word, telling absolutely anyone and everyone about it) but also with strangers I might admire.

I think it is really silly to play it cool with people we admire. And I have zero problems being a FAN. I think about my friend Alisha. When I found Girls Night In (her email newsletter), I told everyone I knew to sign up. A newsletter for indoor kids who love staying home? My people!!!! Eventually, Alisha and I connected and became friends. She came on our podcast, and was a guest at both of our DC live shows. Girls Night In had me be a guest editor. She sent me some of her puzzles. I wrote about them on my site.

I wasn’t supporting her newsletter (or any of the other things) for my own personal or professional gain, I did so because I was a genuine fan of hers and liked what she was doing. And in doing that, we developed a real relationship. The same thing happened with Ashley and Rayna from Girls Gotta Eat. I sent them fan mail (seriously – an embarrassingly long and gushy email) and we ended up grabbing drinks. A friendship was born!

Of course, you have to be genuine, and you have to be doing it without any agenda.

I don’t believe in “creative women supporting other creative women” just for the sake of it. It has to be a fit, it has to be something I really like. And if it is, I will scream and shout about it. But if it isn’t, it just isn’t! There’s no need to feel bad or guilty about this, you’re not going to like everyone and every project (and not everyone is going to like you or what you are doing – it’s OK!).

You might be thinking, “Well, Grace, it’s much easier to do this when you have a blog or big social following.” Maybe. But there is power even in just telling one friend, and there’s a reason why word of mouth marketing is so beneficial – it’s why brands spend hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in referral programs. Don’t keep good things to yourself. Support good people. Send fan mail. Spread the word about things you enjoy (especially small businesses, good books, etc.) Even if there is zero professional gain, you are doing a good thing. Even just telling one person about something can have a real impact.

I mentioned it briefly above, but also: be a fan of your friends! Send your girlfriends flowers when they get promoted at work. Don’t be afraid to tell them how amazing you think they are. Hype their projects. Life is too short for playing it cool. Don’t be the cool friend. Be the cheerleader.

I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Matt Haig: “Never be cool. Never try and be cool. Never worry about what the cool people think. Head for the warm people. Life is warmth. You’ll be cool when you’re dead.”

photography by Laura Saur.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment


  1. Hadley:

    I too love Matt Haig, Grace. I was feeling a little blah this week and was delighted to find out I had a Matt Haig book waiting on hold for me at the library. It was The Comfort Book and absolutely did the trick. Have you read it?

    1.27.22 Reply
  2. Sarah:

    I love this! Some of my favorite podcasts, books, clothing, skincare, etc. has been discovered via word-of-mouth recommendations, whether IRL friends or internet friends!

    1.27.22 Reply
  3. Allie N.:

    So well said! I love how you are so intentional with how you support your friends and other people you admire.

    1.27.22 Reply
  4. leanne:

    I love this so much! Nothing brings me more joy than supporting other women. It’s hard enough out there without the love and support of friends and strangers alike. BTW, I often tell people about your book reccs AND skincare reccs because … #graceatwoodmademedoit LOL. Keep up the wonderful work.

    1.27.22 Reply
    • Oh my gosh thank you – that is the highest praise!!! And I agree, it brings me so much joy too!

      1.27.22 Reply
  5. Wendy:

    I’m a big fan of sending friends cards just to let them know I am thinking of them. If there is anything an ongoing pandemic has shown us, it’s that people are not okay. Anything we can do to brighten someone’s day is huge. Telling a stranger you like something about their outfit or how cute their dog is are also great mood lifters!

    slightly the opposite of positive but I have a few girlfriends in my area and we all look out for each other in dating. I suspected the guy I was dating was being shady and yup- two different friends saw him on tinder and now we all know to avoid this guy (there’s limited options in my small city)

    1.27.22 Reply
    • I love that so much! I don’t do it nearly enough. AND yes, good for you w/dating and looking out for one another. Men can be so shady.

      1.27.22 Reply
  6. Yes yes yes! This reminds me of Laura Tremaine’s “share your stuff” advice — the idea that we can only connect deeply if we are really authentic about who we are, and for me, that’s always been Extremely Enthusiastic about all the things I love. You have to put it all out there to be known — and if you can champion all the people and things you love along the way, all the better! And the Matt Haig quotation reminds me of my favorite line from Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.” (Almost sent this as a DM but then remembered… comments are better! We’re learning!)

    1.27.22 Reply
    • Haha! THANK YOU for the blog comment. So much easier to respond to, and others can benefit too. I love that quote, and I love being an enthusiast. Extremely Enthusiastic is a good way to be! xoxo

      1.27.22 Reply
  7. Margie:

    Yes!!! I love being a cheerleader!
    And a huge shout out to YOU Grace! You are SO GOOD at what you do. You work hard and it shows. Also your warmth and kindness comes across too.
    Wishing you all the best!

    1.27.22 Reply
  8. Caitlin:

    I love this! Women supporting women instead of being catty and competitive is so important! I always try to remember the quote “there’s plenty of room at the top!” Thank you for everything!

    1.27.22 Reply
  9. This is so well put! Especially the part about cool/enthusiastic (love the quote). It takes so much courage to do anything in this world, when someone puts themselves out there we should absolutely celebrate them for it. I also hear you on the networking events, shudder.

    1.27.22 Reply
  10. Val:

    I love this post. I read your blog every day and am part of the Stripe Facebook group but haven’t fan girled you enough. Cheerleading for YOU!! Thanks Grace.

    1.27.22 Reply
  11. Diana:

    I love this so much!
    My mom has always sent the best letters and emails praising people. From waitresses, to children she overheard being especially kind, to people whose yard she admires. Sometimes to their employers, parents, or to them, but it always makes people feel special and seen. Your article reminded me of that and that I need to put into words how much I love people more.
    The world needs more warm fan girls!!

    1.27.22 Reply
  12. Rachel:

    I love this post! I also think there’s space for this to translate to the corporate world (where I currently work) – rather than letting professional envy or jealousy set in, focus on cheering other people on alongside your own work, and the rest will follow.

    1.27.22 Reply
  13. Maire:

    Could not agree with this more! It is important to tell people they are doing good things. Positive validation can be a game changer for so many of us!

    1.27.22 Reply
  14. Jeanette:

    What a wonderful post. I think you are spot on about being genuine. I believe people know when you are truly championing them because of them and not some false motive.

    1.27.22 Reply
  15. Amy Hahn:

    I love this! A great reminder to be a cheerleader. I am one for my kids but I can do a better job of cheering for friends & family.
    I really enjoy your blog! You have a very genuine and warm perspective and I have learned a lot from you! Flying on Sunday and purchased some of your recommended compression socks! Thanks Grace!

    1.27.22 Reply
  16. Morgan:

    Oooo I love this!! So much less forced To being a warm person so much better than cool

    1.27.22 Reply
  17. Katie:

    “Life is warmth. You’ll be cool when you’re dead.” Love that Matt Haig quote, thanks for sharing!

    I loved this post and attitude – yay for being a cheerleader, and for just being genuine fans of people who deserve it.

    1.27.22 Reply
  18. Ellen Maguire:

    I loved every word of this, Grace. You are the ultimate – selfless – cheerleader. ❤️

    1.27.22 Reply
  19. Love this so much!

    1.27.22 Reply
  20. Shana:

    Love this post and it aligns nicely with Jennifer Lake’s amplify post 🙂 Whenever people tell me how lovely my skin looks I say “Grace Atwood, let me send you the link to her site” hehehehe but 100% true!

    1.28.22 Reply
  21. Jessica:

    I love this so much! Have you seen this extremely silly but also right on Onion piece from years ago about a group of friends “validating the living shit out of each other”?


    It’s over the top…but also maybe my friend group’s mission statement!

    1.28.22 Reply
  22. Sam:

    I have two comments: I love the sentiment of this post and also the photography is absolutely STUNNING.

    1.31.22 Reply
  23. Irene Jaw:

    I really love this – it’s like that article about Anne Hathaway from several years back that was basically talking about how great it was that Anne was always the most enthusiastic and willing to be adored on the red carpet. She worked for it, she earned it! In the same way, i love being over the top for great companies, especially local businesses. Even if only one new person listens and supports that business, then that business feels successful, which I think is super important!

    1.31.22 Reply
  24. Eileen:

    You post is lovely, but, please, make the type a little larger. Thanks.

    2.4.22 Reply
    • Hi Eileen,
      I am not sure what type of device you are viewing the site on but you can always zoom in!

      2.4.22 Reply
  25. Meredith:

    This is a really nice post, thanks for sharing!

    4.4.22 Reply