Having trouble working up the energy to attend yet another networking event? Looking for a more enjoyable and relaxed way to develop business relationships? It seems as though a lot of other women are, too.
A new attitude about networking is taking root in Seattle and around the country; one that challenges the old “pass out your business card to everyone you meet” approach. New social groups, both formal and informal, have moved beyond hosting structured events to organizing more low-key occasions for professional mingling, frequently in venues that are interesting and fun. In their departure from more traditional networking groups, these new-generation meetups seem to be more about fostering camaraderie in business than simply making contacts.
Many groups have an online presence that combines cyber with in-person social networking opportunities. Some are membership-based and provide benefits such as mentoring and continuing education, or online visibility through their Web sites. Others do not require formal association, and invite you to show up at their events whenever you can. Here’s a sample:
Girl Power Hour
Girl Power Hour calls itself “a monthly social networking experience for women in Seattle,” their goal being “to get like-minded women together in a comfortable and stylish environment that facilitates relationship building in a non-threatening way, allowing socializing and networking to occur naturally.”
Girl Power Hour was conceived by Darnell Sue and Samantha Lawton in 2007 after they met at a traditional type of networking event, one that left them feeling “bored and uninspired.” Not to be discouraged, they set about creating their own social networking group, starting with their own friends. Their epiphany was coming up with Girl Power Hour as a way to bring those and other interesting women together in a fun setting. The group (which ranges in age from 24–50 and numbers anywhere from 100–200 at each event) meets the third Thursday of every month, gathering at various stylish locations around town including lounges, bars, hotel foyers, salons and galleries. Each event has a different theme and charity tie-in, and is complete with swag bags, door prizes, cocktail specials, appetizers and special guests. Tickets are $10 online and $15 at the door.
Biznik is a social network that, according to its tagline, is “Business networking that doesn’t suck.” Combining an online social network with scheduled in-person informal events, Biznik aims to build authentic and lasting business relationships in the spirit of collaboration rather than competition. Promoting itself as “the place where real conversations about business and entrepreneurship take place,” the steadily growing Biznik community attracts people in all stages of business growth. Everyone from freelancers to top-level business executives are invited to join. Membership at the basic level is free (includes a basic profile of you and your business, inclusion in Biznik’s searchable directory, admission to Biznik events, and access to business conversations on “Biz Talk”), but by upgrading to paying memberships ($10 per month for “Active” and $24 per month for “Supporting”) you can enhance your visibility significantly through the Biznik Web site, Google and other search engines, as well as avail yourself of all the Internet tools Biznik has at its disposal to help you promote your business. Members can host their own networking or educational events and post them online.
The Center for
Women & Democracy Food for Thought
Self-described as “Seattle’s premier women’s empowerment
organization,” the Center for Women & Democracy sponsors programs
designed to train future women leaders and to connect women within Washington
state and internationally. The monthly Food for Thought program is a
dinner and lecture series that spotlights cutting edge research and issues
relating to women and democracy, and is also a rich forum for networking.
The program has attracted local women executives, health specialists,
writers, elected officials, filmmakers, directors and editors to speak
at its dinners. It has also brought nationally and internationally renowned
speakers to the series, including former Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, author and activist Gloria Steinem, and former Lt. Governor
of Maryland Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
The Link For Women
“The Link,” as it is more familiarly referred to, is a Portland-
and Seattle-based affiliate organization that, in each of its locations,
sponsors a regular speaker series, skill-building workshops and members-only
events that fulfill its mission to “help women reach their full
potential.” According to its founder and CEO, Cindy Tortorici,
a recognized retail expert and former executive with Saks Fifth Avenue
and Nike, The Link was created to respond to issues that face women in
both their personal and professional lives: the desire to connect with
other stimulating women and share their experiences; a need for mentorships
and a network of peers; access to experts to acquire information and
knowledge; a safe and supportive atmosphere for investigating new ideas
and topics; and a forum to highlight the many “fantastic women
in the Northwest who deserve to be spotlighted as role models.”
According to co-founder Noah Brier, likemind is “basically a bunch of people hanging out, drinking coffee and chatting with one another once a month.” The Sunday New York Times (Oct. 26, 2008) ran a story depicting likemind as “a monthly kaffeeklatsch for creative professionals… with no formal structure, no fees and typically no agenda… where participants exchange ideas, job tips and useful contacts, while also batting around ideas about technology, art, business and culture.” The group is international, and you can see postings on the Web site of all of the gatherings (called “likeminds”) that are taking place in cities all over the world. likeminds are scheduled and hosted by anyone who wants to (although at least two people are required to host an event). likemind will promote meetings on the site and by e-mail, but the hosts have the responsibility of 1) buying nametags to pass out so people can address each other by name; 2) collecting the names and e-mail addresses of people who attend so they can be added to the forum; 3) buying something from the location from which they host, and 4) making sure people show up. likeminds are posted on the Web site by city code; Seattle events are posted under SEA. You can also check out the Web site to apply to host a likemind, contact the founders, or suggest a global question.
Seattle Open Coffee
Last year, Andy Stack thought Seattle needed more entrepreneurial culture, so he posted a notice onlinesaying that he wanted to meet entrepreneurial types over coffee to “socialize and perhaps do a bit of business.” Seattle Open Coffee was born. Interested early stage investors and entrepreneurs meet every Tuesday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Louisa’s Coffee, 2379 Eastlake Avenue E., Seattle. It is reported that from eight to 20 people, both old and new faces, show up every week to klatsch. For Eastsiders, there is now Eastside Open Coffee, which meets every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at Tully’s Coffee, 8862 161st Avenue NE in Redmond. There is no Web site for Seattle Open Coffee, but a quick Google search will lead you to several links where you can read more about it.
Executive Women International
Greater Seattle Business Association
Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce
North Seattle Community College Continuing Education
Professional Women of Color Network
Washington Business and Professional Women
Washington Women in Trades
Women’s Business Exchange
Women Business Owners
Women’s Network for Entrepreneurial
©2009 Caliope Publishing Company
©Seattle Woman Magazine | All Rights Reserved | 206-784-5556