- Date : 12/04/2019
- Read: 4 mins
Are you an entrepreneur who would like to meet up with like-minded peers? Find out how.
Networking groups are a great way to build valuable business contacts, share insights, and gain know-how. What is unfortunate is that just as with everywhere else, women have to work hard to get their foot in the door of most networking groups, most of which operate like another big boys’ club.
A women-only networking group comes as a boon for female entrepreneurs, especially those just starting off, to discover people of their tribe. That is; connections who are non-judgemental, safe and truly looking to grow together.
Rather than becoming a space for one-upmanship, a women’s group can be a warm and welcoming place. Members can discuss various issues – from accessing capital to breaking the glass ceiling to raising kids. You can let your hair down while indulging in some productive communication.
It’s a place where you can find inspirational ‘how I did it’ stories of successful women who have been in your shoes and who will be more than willing to become your mentor. Indeed, many groups have accelerator programmes where specific targets are set to achieve goals together.
1. CII: Indian Women Network (IWN)
The Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) is a not-for-profit organisation that has been working closely with the government for over three decades on policy issues, business opportunities, and operating efficiencies while striving for strategic international partnerships.
The women’s chapter (IWN) started in 2013 and is run and led by women stalwarts in 12 states. Membership is open to women across all strata and business segments. The membership fee depends on whether you are a student, individual, or associated with a large organisation.
IWN provides a platform to interact with governmental institutions, participate in women-related policy issues, online training opportunities, free career and health counselling, among others. It also conducts various expos that tackle various issues and allow for skill-building.
2. IWFCI – India Chapter
Women entrepreneurs who are looking to scale globally can benefit from joining the International Women’s Federation of Commerce and Industry’s (IWFI) India chapter.
IWFCI provides a platform to engage with international governments, offers subsidies and schemes for women in the MSME segment, and promotes marketing and promotional opportunities for international trade. Membership is different for individual and corporate members.
A global networking app for women, Femnesty allows women to interact with peers from across the globe to share thoughts and strategies, connect individually, or attend local events. Individuals or corporate groups can become members. The app is available for both Android and iOS and has an extensive repository of e-books, videos, and TED talks.
Founded in early 2000, the MeetUp platform has expanded from a web portal to various social media platforms. It allows like-minded community members to get together, and groups allow strict customisations. This allows women entrepreneurs to look for groups or events which are within their community or area of expertise.
While it is easy to chat with a stranger through digital platforms, it cannot replace in-the-flesh interaction. You have the choice of opting for free or paid service depending on what you are looking for.
5. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
The holy trinity of social networking can be leveraged for a lot more than just sharing pictures and wishing birthdays. The extensive reach these platforms offer make it a little difficult to identify like-minded parties, but at the same time, they allow you to choose exactly the kind of peers/mentors you want to work with.
Facebook has thousands of groups for women-only networking, so finding something close to home should not be difficult. Twitter and Instagram both rely on hashtags; with specific keyword searches, you can look for women who have interests aligned with yours.
While most social media networks are free to use, you do have to invest considerable time looking for the right connections. For instance, many Facebook groups end up being platforms to just sell stuff rather than achieve anything productive.
With Twitter and Instagram, you do not have the opportunity to meet multiple women in the same space; however, it offers a much better collaborative opportunity if the interests match.
What most women need is a combination of digital and real-time interaction. While it is easy to find inspirational literature online, one needs an interpersonal connect for collaboration or a custom solution to a specific issue. In the unlikely event that you do not find (or like) a social network near you, be the one to take charge and help expand the sisterhood!