Setting up and running a successful start-up is never easy and female founders often face additional challenges. Networking groups are a brilliant source of support, advice and inspiration. Here are nine networks that are just for women in business.
Great for business clubs
Enterprising Women is a not-for-profit that aims to empower, connect, train and support all female business owners. Its network includes more than 45,000 women throughout the UK who benefit from access to online training as well as physical events and mentoring. Business Clubs meet every month across the country.
Great for research
Everywoman is a membership organisation that has been running since 1999 and has a network of 20,000 members in over 100 countries. The Insight section of the website includes a range of range of case studies, reports and latest news relating to women in the workplace. Highly professional but not start-up focused.
Great for events
Forward Ladies is a network dedicated to the training and development of women in business. It’s a national organisation working with big businesses as well as individuals. There’s a good range of events and online courses. The blog includes useful advice and videos of some impressive keynote speakers.
Great for Facebook fans
Lean In is the movement founded by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Lean In Circles are small groups of women who meet regularly for mentorship and advice. There are 44,000 groups worldwide with hundreds in the UK and it’s simple to set up your own. Some groups may lack the structure and focus of other more established network organisations, while others may just be for employees of a local business.
Great for diversity
The National Black Women’s Network is a not-for-profit organisation that works to raise the status and position of women of colour, in all walks of life. Its blog and events pages are good places to keep up with forthcoming discussions, awards and seminars. Sonia Brown MBE is key person behind the network and is also the creator of Sistatalk, a social media site set up to support the community of the NBWN.
Great for local networks
Prowess has a wide range of information for women in business. Alongside more general business advice is specific guidance for mums in business as well as for women over 50. There’s also a brilliant list of local and regional groups for female businesswomen.
Great for equality
Less than 1% of global corporate spending goes to women-owned business, according to this membership organisation. WeConnect International is a network whose members have to be certified as running female-owned business. They can then use its resources to connect with corporate members who are looking to source goods and services from more diverse suppliers.
Great for rural businesses
Women in Rural Enterprise (WiRE) is an organisation that grew from an academic research project and now runs 50 local network groups across the UK. WiRE offers a range of events and training but believes that ‘networking continues to be the most important business benefit to women running rural business’.
Great for new business networking
The Women in Business Network holds monthly lunchtime meetings that allow members to find new business opportunities and forge partnerships. The ‘one profession, one group’ rule will not suit everyone but ensures you are not competing with a fellow member. There are currently more than 1,500 members with groups across England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.