Women's networking groups - a response to Dangerous Liaisons by Andrew Thorman in absolute herefordshire
I read Andrew Thorman's article, about networking and women, in the July Absolute and and felt I had
to reply. He did say some good things about women but I felt his article showed a lack of knowledge on the subject in general. Women are networking like mad in their own way and in their own groups.
Our local WIB group (Women in Business) for instance, which I go to fairly regularly, has monthly meetings, all well attended, simple good food, sometimes with a topic but always with a welcome. Women meet for many different reasons and it is rarely primarily to press their business cards into someone's hand and try to make another sale.
Most of the ladies in my WIB group are local. I asked the ladies present what is the best thing for them about WIB, of course they all said the food. But no, seriously, they had a variety of reasons for coming, here are some of them. One lady likes to put faces to the names in the town and start to get to know them, another sees it as an opportunity for support. That works both ways as we answer each other's questions about software and advertising. I enjoy the presentations and sharing of knowledge. My neighbour at lunch might have an idea that really helps my business. Not all businesses are on a high all the time and the ladies encourage and support each other when things seem to be going slowly. In fact, guess what, they become friends. This is the main difference, I think, between male and female organised networking. We actually enjoy meeting some of the same people each month, there is always something new going on and women genuinely care about each other.
So, when I need to make a will I might ring my solicitor friend from WIB. If I'm looking for a reliable second hand car, I'll contact my car dealer friend. If a neighbour needs a chef for her Mother's 80th birthday, I'll email my chef friend! I am much more likely to use them first or recommend them to others.
I go intermitantly to another group called WIRE Women in Rural Enterprise. This is also a national association with 1000s of members all over the UK. This group in our area is younger, with more start ups, less formal and a good short presentation with time for questions. Because the members are that much younger there is more interference from family life, you know, having babies, sick children etc. The gatherings are quite small and can be a completely different group from month to month.
Both groups are extremely welcoming, genuine, professional and supportive. We stick to time, have a wealth of expertise and a sense of fun as we encourage and support each other. After every meeting I come home with something new to work on that will benefit my business. Behind these meetings are organisations that offer training, expertise, monthly enews and the ability to connect with thousands of like minded women on the web.
I didn't really like Andrew's comment about "women at the top of their game in Herefordshire" . He would like women to come to his networking group but only if they are "at the top of their game" as he obviously believes he and his fellow male networkers are. Sorry, I'm looking for a group of women who are on a mission to do their best in their business whether it is running a camp site or publishing books. We are not really interested in tops or bottoms. Most of us want to keep going forward together. We want to increase our territory but we don't want to rule the world, do we? We delight in each others good news and are sorry when there are set backs.
I would encourage any women who are in business or starting a new business to join one or more of these groups. No social media can replace the face to face contact of a group who I trust and know. When the winds of austerity bite, the computer collapses or my sales look like drying up, I would tell my female group and ask for advice but I'm not sure I'd tell a male group. Sorry chaps, you might want us to come and liven up your networking but I for one, am happy with the way things are.
http://www.wireuk.org/ National Women in Rural Enterprise
http://www.wibweb.org.uk The local Leominster group web site, women in Business
http://www.wibn.co.uk/ national network, Women in Business