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The Friday Five: Networking Groups and Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

Posted by Scott Kirsner  October 9, 2009 08:54 AM

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I've been talking to female founders this week, preparing a column that will run on Sunday. Here are the five networking groups and resources that have been mentioned most often as helpful by the women I've interviewed.

Know of others? Please add them in the comments...

- Boston Women's Network. Regular monthly meetings with speakers, focused on helping members achieve their personal and professional goals.

- Center for Women & Enterprise. Helps women start and grow businesses, with courses on QuickBooks, obtaining bank financing, and selecting a legal entity for the business. Serves Boston, Providence, and Worcester.

- Commonwealth Institute. Career development and support for female CEOs and executives. Upcoming events include a session with Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, and the annual "Top 100 Women-Led Businesses" reception.

- Golden Seeds Boston. A group of female "angel" investors who take pitches and consider funding new start-ups, and also encourage women to become angel investors themselves. "Angel Investing 101" course coming up on November 10th.

- Ladies Who Launch Boston. Creates groups of 10 women "who each help one another take their projects, businesses, or ideas to a new place." Also, regular networking events. Another chapter serves Worcester.

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36 comments so far...
  1. Also worth checking out the Downtown Women's Club - good networking events and great people.

    Posted by BTucker October 9, 09 09:36 AM
  1. I've also found the Center for Women's Leadership at Babson to be a phenomenal resource for female entrepreneurs. Their resources and willingness to help me tap into networks, like Ernst & Young's Winning Women program have had a sizable impact on my business. For more info, visit their website at http://www3.babson.edu/cwl/.

    Posted by Jill Cartwright October 9, 09 09:58 AM
  1. I organize an informal group of female CEOs/founders once a month (usually last Wednesday of the month, 8 am, Andala Cafe, Central Sq. Cambridge). There's a mix of repeat entrepreneurs and newbies. We exchange experience and information on the process of founding/running high-growth start-ups. If you're interested in joining us, email me: hein (at) pixability.com

    Posted by Bettina Hein October 9, 09 10:33 AM
  1. Women's Business Network of Southeastern Massachusetts

    The purpose of WBN is to offer networking opportunities and inspire, educate, and motivate women to be the best they can be in their business and personal lives

    www.wbnsema.org

    Posted by Susan Finn October 9, 09 10:34 AM
  1. I wouldn't forget Downtown Women's Club and NEWBO...both great organizations!

    Posted by Jennessa October 9, 09 10:38 AM
  1. For women lawyer/entrepreneurs there's the Women Attorneys Network of the South Shore: http://www.wanss.org/

    Posted by Leanna Hamill October 9, 09 10:41 AM
  1. The Downtown Women's Club ought to be mentioned. It is one of the few networking organizations to combine both online and in person networking. It has chapters in & around Boston, as well as other cities. The group provides networking resources, such as e books to help members "network with confidence" as well as "fun" in person meetings . The meetings are a easy,stress free way for women to interact, meet and collaborate with other members in a comfortable environment.


    Posted by Darlene Calcagno Chef/owner Cuisine by Darlene October 9, 09 11:01 AM
  1. Downtown Women's Cub is a great resource and certainly belongs on this list. DWC offers monthly networking events in Boston and it's surrounding regions. http://www.downtownwomensclub.com/

    Posted by Erin Murphy October 9, 09 11:34 AM
  1. I agree with the other posters... what about the Downtown Women's Club?
    http://www.downtownwomensclub.com/dwc/index.php

    Posted by Sharon Shepard October 9, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Yes, the Downtown Women's Club, the Boston Club, the Simmons SOM Alumni Association and The Boston Chamber's Monthly Women's Networking Breakfasts are great places to network. Which speaks to the point that women network differently than men. Just ask Forbes
    http://bit.ly/6Ni0n

    Posted by Roberta Balder October 9, 09 11:47 AM
  1. Hi Scott,

    As a female entrepreneur, I echo the other suggestions of looking into Downtown Womens Club (www.downtownwomensclub.com). Although I don't get to many in-person events, the online webinars are a great way to learn a lot of different aspects of starting and running your own business.

    I would also suggest you check out Geek Girl Camp (www.geekgirlcamp.com). I presented at last year's Boston (actually in Randolph) event, and it is good for empowering women in technology, with a lot of info focused on entepreneurs. In addition to the camps, they have other resources as well.

    Cheers to your mention of CWE - I used to teach a class there - good organization.

    Posted by Maria Doyle October 9, 09 11:59 AM
  1. Good job, Scott! More light needs to be shined on women techies and entrerpreneurs in Boston area. The frat house that we are here would highly benefit from more women to dilute the testosterone and groupthink.

    Posted by Apolinaras "Apollo" Sinkevicius | LeanStartups.com October 9, 09 01:47 PM
  1. The International Leadership Institute for Women (www.leadershipinstituteforwomen.com) based in Bolton, MA offers Leadership for Women, a transformational development program for women entrepreneurs, business owners and senior level execs. The eleven week program provides tools designed to allow women to maximize their finite resources of time and energy and achieve the "next level" of fulfillment, personal and professional success.

    Posted by Leslie Scales October 9, 09 02:07 PM
  1. One of the best resources for women in business is the Downtown Women's Club. I've been involved in several of women's groups over the years, including several that you list, but have found DWC to be unique.

    As an entrepreneur, there is always a need to balance the time spent in the office and out of the office. DWC offers a "clicks & mix" strategy. The group offers terrific programs and services through the website to expand your horizon. Plus, there is the opportunity to strengthen your skills and relationships through fun and effective in-person events.

    I enjoyed the DWC group so much that I even volunteered to found a chapter on the South Shore. It has been a great way to increase my visibility while demonstrating my leadership ability.

    Posted by Paula Harris October 9, 09 02:35 PM
  1. The Massachusetts Conference for Women, now in its 5th year, offers incredible networking and educational opportunities for entrepreneurs or women at all stages of their career! This year's conference will be held in Boston 12-10. See all speakers and agenda at http://maconferenceforwomen.org

    Posted by MA Conference for Women October 9, 09 02:46 PM
  1. The Downtown Women's Club has a wide array of opportunities to network, learn and contribute. For me as a Fear of Public Speaking Coach, who sees many clients after work, I can't always make the early evening networking meetings, but there's the blog, teleconference seminars and other online opportunities, plus some real expertise on using online and social media for networking. I value this organization, and have only touched the surface so far in all the ways it can be a resource for me.

    Posted by Nancy Cetlin, Ed.D. Fear of Public Speaking Coach October 9, 09 02:52 PM
  1. WEST, Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology does some great programs, and network of women in science and technology that support each other. Dr. Gwen Acton runs the group. http://www.westorg.org

    Posted by Pearl Freier, Cambridge BioPartners October 9, 09 04:10 PM
  1. Thanks for the information, I enjoy the Downtown Women's Club both the Boston branch and the Northshore branch. There are always a variety of business represented and interesting subjects discussed.

    Posted by Doreen Blades October 9, 09 04:11 PM
  1. Downtown Women's Cub is a great resource and certainly belongs on this list. DWC offers monthly networking events in Boston and it's surrounding regions. http://www.downtownwomensclub.com/

    Posted by Beverly Rivkind, Beverly Rivkind Interior Design October 9, 09 04:27 PM
  1. I can attest to the value of attending the informal group of female CEOs/founders that Bettina mentioned above. We meet once a month (usually last Wednesday of the month, 8 am, Andala Cafe, Central Sq. Cambridge). As Bettina said, "there's a good mix of repeat entrepreneurs and newbies. Really helps to exchange experience and information on the process of founding/running high-growth start-ups."

    Posted by Karen Miller October 9, 09 04:54 PM
  1. There is Wild Women Entrepreneurs. I know that they have become the largest community of entrepreneurial women in the world and its founder, Ja-Nae Duane, started it with $100 3 years ago.

    They are going through a website relaunch, but are still helping their members. Ja-Nae's Twitter handle is @TheSunQueen and Wild WE's is @TheWildWE.

    Hope that helps.

    Posted by Lynn Tayler October 9, 09 05:07 PM
  1. To echo what the others have so nicely said (thanks!), The Downtown Women's Club http://www.downtownwomensclub.com has in-person chapters in Boston, Boston North, Cambridge, South Shore, Providence/SE Mass + Worcester - serving over 4,000 women. Our specialty is teaching women both in-person and online networking skills. Many of our teleclasses focus on social networking, affiliate marketing, blogging for business, and other new ways to network. See our site for upcoming events.

    Another local group that should be included in this list is WAVE (women's association of venture and equity) http://www.women-wave.org/.

    Posted by Diane Danielson/CEO, Downtown Women's Club October 9, 09 05:58 PM
  1. Great spotlight. The Boston Club has a mix of female executives in companies of all sizes including many women-owned businesses. Women in Health Care Management, started by women who now lead several of Boston's largest health care organizations now also attracts women at businesses that serve these organizations.

    Posted by Barbara Bix October 9, 09 07:59 PM
  1. downtown women's club, esp. for its online options and its events at venues like fuller craft museum

    Posted by brenda be October 9, 09 11:22 PM
  1. On the tech side, I think there are a number of informal or more private groups of women that get together. I participate in a small dinner group, a more traditional networking group and some others. Springboard used to be a great catalyst for connecting women entrepreneurs with a network of mentors and advisors. I know Center for Women and Enterprise has been playing with different models of how to do that and still meet their core mission. There are active women on a number of the startup program committees at the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge where I am active. For example the planning committee for "Start Smart" the mini-crash-course in starting a company includes at least three women with either startup or seed investing backgrounds. Being involved in program planning is another way for people to connect.

    WEST (focused on women) is a good organization, and I know that in the past the Women in Technology International (WITI) chapter has been active. BlogHer did its first Boston conference in November of 2008, which was attended by 98% women and fostered more community and connections there. Some of the newer organizations that are tech focused.

    The Capital Network (TCN) is having an event in December: "How to Build an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem for Women in Greater Boston" December 8th. http://thecapitalnetwork.org/programs.upcoming.php#Dec08 with Maria Cirino (serial entrepreneur and now VC at .406 Ventures), Jean Hammond (a very active angel over many years) and Gail Goodman (CEO of Constant Contact).

    Kaliya Hamlin (who emceed the Mass Technology Leadership Council's unconference for the 2nd year in a row) is planning a She's Geeky conference in Boston. I believe there was a session at the Unconference to discuss. www.shesgeeky.org

    Great to organize this list of resources.

    Posted by Claire Wadlington October 10, 09 10:05 AM
  1. On the tech side, I think there are a number of informal or more private groups of women that get together. I participate in a small dinner group, a more traditional networking group and some others. Springboard used to be a great catalyst for connecting women entrepreneurs with a network of mentors and advisors. I know Center for Women and Enterprise has been playing with different models of how to do that and still meet their core mission. There are active women on a number of the startup program committees at the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge where I am active. For example the planning committee for "Start Smart" the mini-crash-course in starting a company includes at least three women with either startup or seed investing backgrounds. Being involved in program planning is another way for people to connect.

    WEST (focused on women) is a good organization, and I know that in the past the Women in Technology International (WITI) chapter has been active. BlogHer did its first Boston conference in November of 2008, which was attended by 98% women and fostered more community and connections there. Some of the newer organizations that are tech focused.

    The Capital Network (TCN) is having an event in December: "How to Build an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem for Women in Greater Boston" December 8th. http://thecapitalnetwork.org/programs.upcoming.php#Dec08 with Maria Cirino (serial entrepreneur and now VC at .406 Ventures), Jean Hammond (a very active angel over many years) and Gail Goodman (CEO of Constant Contact).

    Kaliya Hamlin (who emceed the Mass Technology Leadership Council's unconference for the 2nd year in a row) is planning a She's Geeky conference in Boston. I believe there was a session at the Unconference to discuss. www.shesgeeky.org

    Great to organize this list of resources.

    Posted by Claire Wadlington October 10, 09 10:42 AM
  1. So surprised not to see the Downtown Womens Club (www.downtownwomensclub.com) mentioned. This group has a culture of true supportive, progressive and cutting edge networking. The best of the best. The events are usually free and as stated above the online options are unbeatable.

    Posted by Kristine Steinberg, President Kismet Consulting, LLC October 10, 09 02:56 PM
  1. Equally surprised not to see the Simmons School of Management in Boston mentioned. The SOM is included in the 2010 edition of Princeton Review’s 301 Best Business Schools, http://www.princetonreview.com/business-school-rankings.aspx, and they are ranked #1 as the school with the greatest opportunities for women.

    The summary of quotes from our students included in the profile is wonderful. Here is what Princeton Review says: “Attracting a bright, lively, and diverse group of scholars, “students say they are ‘constantly amazed by the level of intellect in conversation inside and outside the classroom. There are amazing women at Simmons.”

    Simmons SOM has moved into a new "green" building on the Simmons main campus in the Fenway neighborhood.

    The school also offers a Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship, http://www.simmons.edu/som/centers/entrepreneurship/mba/index.shtml. You can now earn a Certificate in Entrepreneurship designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. The Certificate Program in Entrepreneurship is also open to anyone currently holding an MBA from an AACSB accredited business school. In just 8 months you will build your network; learn critical skills of marketing, strategy and finance; work with an entrepreneur one-on-one; and launch your own venture. Experience the all women’s business school environment of the Simmons School of Management.

    Posted by Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions, Inc October 11, 09 09:02 PM
  1. www.MassachusettsWomen.org connecting all women's companies and organizations throughout Massachusetts.

    Posted by Massachusetts Women October 12, 09 07:18 PM
  1. Phew....I am exhausted just by reading about all this "gal" networking I am.... not doing. It takes so much effort to keep up with the "guy" stuff in town. Fun, seriously speaking, to see all the energy represented here.

    Posted by Jules Pieri October 12, 09 08:56 PM
  1. As mentioned above, The Commonwealth Institute's mission is to support women CEOs, entrepreneurs and senior corporate executives by helping them build successful businesses. Our core product is our CEO Forums - groups of 10-12 women CEOs who work together in a confidential and interactive environment to discuss and tackle critical business issues. We recently expanded our Forums to include Executive Directors/Presidents of Nonprofit organizations and another group for Sole Proprietors. Spots are available in all of our Forums, so please visit http://www.commonwealthinstitute.org for more information.

    TCI's programs are open to the general public and address relevant business topics and offer networking opportunities. Our signature events feature prominent leaders like Madeleine Albright and Gov. Deval Patrick. An upcoming program calendar is featured on our website.

    Posted by Abby Tracy October 13, 09 12:24 PM
  1. This is quite a list of great organizations. You can find a consolidated list of these organizations as well as the other local entrepreneurial organizations in the area, with descriptions and associated links, at a new site that just launched: http://greenhornconnect.com

    The women's organizations are listed together for easy reference here: http://greenhornconnect.com/womens-organizations

    If there are more that are missed, anyone in the community can quickly add them. See the site for further details.

    Thanks,
    -Jason

    Posted by Jason Evanish October 13, 09 12:42 PM
  1. I recommend Girls in Tech (www.girlsintech.net). Great organization for women in technology and others.

    I also just learned of Ruby on Rails and thought I would share this you. http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/genderandtech/ruby-on-rails-workshop-for-women/

    Tara

    Posted by tara greco October 14, 09 11:24 PM
  1. Known for our singular and innovative ability to close the gaps between the critical success factors that women need to know and what they are taught, Leading Women helps organizations meet their goals for advancing and retaining women at all levels. Locally, Leading Women Mass offers monthly strategic networking breakfasts with a "lessons in leadership" theme and a powerful structured networking activity. Our events are attended by women corporate executives, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. Visit our website for more info www.LeadingWomen.biz/centralma. Shortcut to calendar of events: www.LeadingWomen.biz/calendar.cfm

    Posted by Victoria Waterman, President, Leading Women Mass October 19, 09 07:32 AM
  1. Another great organization for women entrepreneurs grossing at least $2 million in annual revenue is the Women Presidents' Organization. In monthly meetings on four continents, chapters composed of 20 accomplished women presidents invest time and energy in themselves and their businesses to drive their corporations to the next level. Local WPO chapters are coordinated by a professional facilitator and meet monthly to share business expertise and experience in a confidential and collaborative setting. For more information contact info@womenpresidentsorg.com

    Posted by Kirsten Wynn October 19, 09 10:59 AM
  1. Thanks very much for the resources. I am also a big fan of the Center for Women and Enterprise having benefitted from expertise at both the Boston and Providence centers.

    Here are three resources for women north of Boston:

    1. Flourish, a resource and mentoring group for entrepreneurs and women working in business and non profits. Monthly meetings on the third Tuesday from 6-9 PM at Jewett Farms Studio, 58 Merrimac Street, Unit 1, Newburyport. For info ecarroll@vacationhomesabroad.com or deb@greetingsbythedozen.com

    2. Port City Women holds monthly networking events on the first Monday
    from 6:30-8:30PM at the River Merrimac Bar and Grill, 50 Water Street, Newburyport, www.portcitywomen.com

    3. The Newburyport Chamber of Commerce hosts the Women's Leadership Connection, next luncheon October 29, 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM - Mission Oak Grill, Newburyport, www.newburyportchamber.org

    Posted by Elaine Carroll October 21, 09 04:58 PM
 

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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