Are women networking organizations the fastest growing trend in American business? This might be so. Including online networking groups, networking organizations focused on women are cropping up all over the country. It seems all women in business are spending their lunch time or after work hours at networking parties, connecting over wine or coffee, or sitting in front of the computer, typing messages to other business women. So, as a women entrepreneur or executive, you may be wondering: do I have to network?
You already are. Unless you are sitting in a cave, you are networking, whether that means meeting with clients, greeting business people you know when you are out and about, or calling a woman you know for advice on a business problem. But do you need to join a formal networking association? That depends on you and your needs. If you are very uncomfortable with chit chat or being in the middle of a group of people, and you find that you don’t need to formally network to advance your business, then you might not need an association. But if your business depends upon the continuous acquisition of new leads or learning new and better technology and business methods, then a networking association can be a valuable strategy for you.
Different female networking associations serve different needs. Here are a few:
Education: Some networking organizations feature speakers, workshops, and seminars on topics of interest to business women. There may or may not be a networking component at these events.
Contacts: These types of associations facilitate the exchange of information between women, putting you in touch with someone who you can help or who can help you. These can be very formal or quite informal. The speed-dating phenomenon has even touched here, with speed-networking events.
Escape: Some female networking organizations are simply places to get away from the business place, especially if that place is dominated by men. These events are usually strictly social and are a good opportunity to bond with other female entrepreneurs and executives.
Message Boards: With the proliferation of online networking sites that are developed specifically for women, the message board feature has become a popular place for women to vent, to advise, and to find someone with similar interests.
Project or Service: Service organizations founded by men for community projects or charitable projects have traditionally been potent networking groups as well. Many women have joined female service organizations to assist with humanitarian projects and have discovered the powerful networking function here as well.
Support: Women networking organizations have found a special niche with this function. To face the legendary barriers in the business world, women have developed support groups that also serve as an important networking location.
Whatever type of female networking association you decide to try, you should have some clear goals in mind. Knowing what you want to accomplish with your networking attempts will help you choose the women networking organization that will work best for you.