In today's competitive business environment, it can be a great help to have a group of friends who provide both support and networking opportunities in order to help each other succeed. That's the idea behind the East Bay Women's Network, a growing group of 80 women in business who meet every month for networking, support, and friendship.
"About 11 years ago, there was a group of six women who met around a dining table and made a plan to build a strong network, an organization that would support women in the East Bay," says Patricia Smith, the group's spokesperson. Their subsequent success is a testimony to the soundness of that vision.
"Most of our members are small business owners and entrepreneurs, so in that sense it's a great place to do some networking," she says. "That's what we're about: networking and supporting business women. We also have great leadership opportunities because our six board members are selected from among the members every year."
The group's members come from a wide variety of industries and range from self-employed entrepreneurs to key members of larger organizations, both public and private. That variety adds great value to the group, Smith explains.
"What I find great about the East Bay Women's Network is it's a great sounding board," she says. "You can ask other women, 'What works for you? How do you do this in your business?' And that's where the support comes in, because you can talk to women who've been in business and get tips from them. We don't see each other as competition; we share our knowledge."
In addition to benefiting from the knowledge and experience of other members, Smith values the support that she gets from the group in terms of her own motivation. "I have benefited in the sense that I've gotten some business from the group through networking, but more than anything for me it's the support that I enjoy," she says. "I have my own business and these meetings kind of lift me up - particularly if we've had a really good motivational speaker at the luncheon. I'll take notes and implement those notes into my own business practices. I find that really helpful."
A good example of this is the speaker for the April 2 luncheon: Nancy Ogilvie, a consultant with 30 years of experience and the founder of Inspiring Results, a firm which works with community service organizations to improve their performance. Her topic will be "Appreciative Inquiry: Five Steps to Achieving Inspiring Results."
The group meets on the first Wednesday of each month from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Englander restaurant at 101 Parrott Street in San Leandro. The cost is $25 for guests and $15 for members; membership dues are $35 for six months.
For additional information on the East Bay Women's Network, contact Patricia Smith at (510) 848-7256 or access the group's web site at www.ebwn.org .
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