Where are all of the Women’s Business Networking Groups? They’re not on LinkedIn. If you’re serious about growing your business and networking, you’re going to have to reach for the higher fruit. (Which may mean more face to face interaction and networking).
A LinkedIn Group, (which I am a member of) called Connect: Professional Women’s Network, has nearly half a million members. While it is a good resource for support, it isn’t necessarily a platform for true entrepreneurial networking that garners real life results. It’s a great place for women to share ideas online, get feedback and share their blog posts, but it stops there. You can’t meet any of these women or connect unless you set it up yourself. If just this one group met offline at a big event to network, collaborate and create true synergy, what a tribe it would be, right? A half a million women from all over the world contributing their energy and resources to help everyone succeed.
The truth is, there are a lot of fantastic women’s business networking groups available to us. You just need to find one that works for you. And then you need to get off your butt and get out there! Plug in to your tribe.
I’m not recommending the Natl. Association of Professional Women, which, sadly, has a negative rating a mile long. What I’m referring to are the groups and organizations founded and run by women who are truly making a difference in women’s lives by offering real business solutions and mentorships, venture capital funding and growth strategies.
CFDA looks like a good resource for women in the fashion industry, however, it’s by invitation only.
Why does it feel so difficult to find legit women’s business networking groups that aren’t just trying to scam us?
The answer is: It’s not that difficult, and there are really good ones out there. You just have to dig a little and be patient. Don’t sign up with the first one that blows fairy dust all over you. Also, consider looking locally at Meetup.com. There are a ton of small, mid and large sized networking groups that may be very beneficial to you.
I have done a little digging for you, and these are the top Business Networking Groups for Women Entrepreneurs that I have found on a national scale:
1. COUNT ME IN Founded by Nell Marino, an international and national champion for women and girls and the creative force behind Take Our Daughters toWork Day. Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education and communitysupport for women entrepreneurs seeking to grow micro-businesses into million dollar enterprises.
Count Me In knows that women entrepreneurs grow exponentially when given access to the right tools, coaching and community, which has lead them to launch three unique programs: Make Mine a Million $ Business™ (M3), Urban Rebound and the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC). All of these programs are designed to help women business owners get growing! www.countmein.org
2. CRAVE, founded by Melody Biringer, The CRAVE Company is focused exclusively on bringing women together to make waves in their careers and personal lives. They specialize in event design for authentic conversation. The first thing you see when you enter their website in big, bold letters is:
No more aimless wandering toward happiness. It’s time to start getting obsessively specific about what you want. So you can start filling your life with it.
Their mission is to draw out the stories and voices of women in business ina way where they feel seen, heard, and empowered. They host Events, Programs and Co-Storming Mashups such as the Seattle Fashion Industry Mash-up. www.thecravecompany.com
3. Women’s Business Development Center The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is a one of a kind non-profit focused on fueling the economy through entrepreneurship. As the oldest, largest and most comprehensive women’s business assistance center in the United States, we have programs designed to help individuals in every phase of the business development and growth process. www.wbdc.org
4. WOMEN 2.0 was co-founded by Shaherose Charania and is currently run by a strong team with key advisors. It’s mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with information, videos, articles and worldwide events such as their PITCH conferences and monthly Founder Friday events. There is a wealth of info on their website, so I would suggest spending a little time there researching topics that interest you. www.women2.com
5. WBENC The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council 501(c)(3) non-profit was founded in 1997. it is currently the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. WBENC partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations to provide its world class standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country. WBENC’s core focus is Certification, Opportunities, Resources and Engagement. www.wbenc.org
6. SBA.gov Yes, the SBA (Small Business Association) offers Women’s Business Services (WBCs), which is nationwide and offers a ton of resources for women-owned businesses! Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) represent a national network of more than 100 educational centers throughout the United States and its territories, which are designed to assist women in starting and growing small businesses. WBCs seek to “level the playing field” for women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.
SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) oversees the WBC network, which provides entrepreneurs (especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged) comprehensive training and counseling on a variety of topics in several languages. Check for local offices in your state for economic development offices. I am lucky enough to have a couple of stellar universities and programs nearby who offer some amazing Women’s Business Centers! Look in your area, I am sure you will find some hidden gems, too. www.sba.gov
7. SAVOR THE SUCCESS was founded by Angela Jia Kim, and was chosen as Forbes’ Best 100 Websites for Women where “accomplished founders, creators, connectors and movers & shakers” push each other to achieve through meeting benchmarks – together.” Basically, Savor the Success is a membership network offering access to PR opportunities, an active online community, a virtual business school, community center, and wellness lifestyle hub for women entrepreneurs, makers and creators.
8. The Next Women: TheNextWomen is a community of Investors, Entrepreneurs & Advisers. Their efforts are in supporting the growth of female entrepreneurs, from startups to companies making millions. Their goal is to advise,inspire & connect a global & local community of ambitious entrepreneurial women. They provide access to capital (perfect!), resources and networks, as well as offer their community support. They host summits and events such as their Pitch Competition . www.thenextwomen.com
9. Dreamit | Dreamit Athena ‘Athena’, which is an accelerator for women created by founders of Dreamit Ventures, was launched in 2015. Ranked by Forbes as one of the Top 10 Business Accelerators in the world, Dreamit invests in early stage entrepreneurs at all levels to create breakthrough technology companies. They provide startups with resources, advisors, investors, strategic partners and customers looking for innovative solutions. www.dreamit.com
10. EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women The EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ program is a national competition and executive education program that identifies a select group of high-potential women entrepreneurs whose businesses show real potential to scale — and then helps them do it! Without sounding too crude, this organization is for badass business women who are serious about succeeding. www.ey.com
11. MergeLane MergeLane discovers, accelerates and invests in exceptional women and the companies they run. Check out their website for more info, and see the current women-owned MergeLane companies www.mergelane.com
12. Million Dollar Women Workshop Created by Julia Pimsleur. Julia Pimsleuris on a mission to help one million women entrepreneurs get to $1M in revenues by 2020.
Julia is the CEO and Founder of Little Pim, one of the few women-run businesses backed by venture capital in the country, and the leading system for introducing young children to a second language. Julia has raised a combined $26 million in non-profit and for-profit dollars. After raising millionsfor her own company, she created her popular “Double Digit Academy” and online fundraising bootcamp to help other women do the same. Check her out, she is doing AMAZING things! http://www.juliapimsleur.com/
13. Springboard Enterprise Springboard, located in Washington, DC, is a highly-vetted expert network of innovators, investors and influencers who are dedicated to building high-growth technology-oriented companies led by women. Read their manifesto https://sb.co/
14. Women’s Startup Lab The mission of Women’s startup Lab is to empower female founders to be strong leaders, to create powerful startups and to influence and shape the world though their companies, using collaboration, community and innovation. The inspiration for Women’s Startup Lab originated in Japan. Founder Ari Horie, growing up in Hiroshima, was raised by a single mother who understood the importance of individuality. http://womenstartuplab.com/
15. Chic CEO At Chic CEO you’ll find easy to understand, easy to implement business knowledge in its most basic form. Best of all, you’ll find other women who are willing to share their advice and experiences simply because someone else did the same for them. It’s a beautiful ‘pay it forward’ system! The ground level information is there for you to get started in being your own boss – the rest is up to you. Free to join! 🙂 http://www.chic-ceo.com/
16. Ellevate Ellevate is the global professional network for women who believes in the positive impact of women in business. Their mission is to help women advance in the workplace, both for themselves and the greater good. It’s a great place where you can invest in yourself or invest in other women. https://www.ellevatenetwork.com
17. She Owns It A website and blog dedicated to empowering, connecting and supporting women in business. Check out their conferences listings for an inspiring workshop in your area! You just never know how it will change everything! http://sheownsit.com/
18. SheWorx A NYC based weekly breakfast collective of strong female entrepreneurs and change makers centered around challenging topics and actionable strategies. They create events hosted by top founders, innovators and entrepreneurs. http://www.sheworx.co/
19. The Boss Network ©The BOSS “Bringing Out Successful Sisters” Network’s mission is to promote and encourage the small business spirit and professional development of women. The BOSS Network is a community of career and entrepreneurial women who support each other through conversation, online and event-based networking.
The BOSS network is also a Top 10 Forbes & Inc. Website for Women of Color in Business. http://www.thebossnetwork.org/
20. Womancon Womancon (convention) is the equivalent to all of the other ‘cons’ we see out there, only their focus is to inspire, educate and re-ignite your entrepreneurial passion with amazing speakers and founders like Janet Hanson (Founder and former CEO of 85 Broads), Egypt Sherrod (CEO, Author and Host of Property Virgins) and Rachel Braun Scherl, to name a few! Through Womancon, you have the opportunity to grow your network and build professional relationships with other leading women entrepreneurs from across the country, or pitch the media. learn more at: www.womancon.com
Wherever you find yourself, whether it be at a local business meetup, or a national convention, I think you will discover you’re exactly where you need to be at the right time.
Life is funny and awesome that way.