Women in business may find it difficult to break into the good ol’ boys network at the golf club. Fortunately, many successful executives are dedicated to helping other female entrepreneurs succeed — and they’ve created mentoring and networking resources for just that purpose.
Here are five women’s business groups worth looking into:
National Association of Women Business Owners — This group has more than 7,000 members and 70 local chapters nationwide. The association hosts an annual conference (slated for Louisville, Ky., in 2012), numerous regional leadership summits, and a two-day workshop that helps business owners assess and develop their management capabilities. Annual membership dues range from $150 to $350, depending on your business’ size and voting rights.
American Business Women’s Association — Geared toward professional women who work for others, as well as entrepreneurs, this network hosts an annual National Women’s Leadership Conference; offers opportunities for networking at 49 local chapters; and provides access to professional development through the online Women’s Instructional Network. Annual dues for national membership are $90.
85 Broads — Founded by women who’ve held senior positions at Goldman Sachs, this network now boasts more than 30,000 professional, entrepreneurial, and student members and 37 regional chapters. The group regularly hosts networking and lecture events in New York City and regional outposts. All members may view video archives of the speeches and network online on the website. An entrepreneur-level membership costs $250 for the year.
Ladies Who Launch — This website for female entrepreneurs offers press opportunities, a resource library, networking opportunities, and more. The group hosts many in-person seminars and workshops (primarily in New York City), and virtual meetings on business development. Membership for online access is $19 a month; for access to in-person events, it’s $39 a month.
Women’s Business Development Center — The Chicago-based WBDC provides webinars and in-person courses for businesses with female leaders, with a focus on government contracting. The group also provides valuable information and resources relating to the process of getting certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise, which will provide you with access to earmarked government contracting opportunities. There are no membership dues, but many programs have individual fees.