An invitation to participate in a global women’s gathering as an emerging leader landed in my inbox last spring—with the event just a few weeks away. The invite mentioned peer-to-peer mentoring, cross-generational learning and problem-solving on big issues I cared about. But I was bone tired, having made monthly international work trips for months on end. I wasn’t sure of my role at the gathering. The agenda wasn’t clear, which is usually my top filter for deciding to participate in something. I wasn’t sure how the group’s work would mesh with my organization’s work. And I was daunted by the names of prominent women cited in the invitation. My logical mind told me to say no.

But I said yes. And I’m so grateful I did.

That group is now one of several women-led networks I’m involved in that have helped me enormously in my own leadership journey to the C-suite. My nearly "no" to that invitation may ring familiar to you. We all have too many demands on our time. When we’re busy and stressed, the temptation looms to skip anything we deem “extra.” But I’d argue that participating in women-led networks isn’t extra, but rather integral to our leadership. Fundamentally, that participation is about generosity—to ourselves and to others. In such networks, we each give our time. In my experience, what we get back more than justifies that investment. Plus, there’s the well-documented multiplier effect of such networks. When I connect with you, I’m also connecting with all your networks (and vice versa). That’s powerful.

Here, I reflect on the very real impacts three women-led networks have had on me, along with sharing some tips for finding your own networks. My networks have benefited me as a leader, benefited the global health organization I lead and benefited the big changes I’m looking to make in the world in both my personal and professional roles.

Read the full article about women-led networks by Emily Bancroft at Forbes.