Steps to Networking – Step 62: eWomenNetwork

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 12th, 2010

STEP 62: eWomenNetwork

eWomenNetwork, Inc.(eWN), is an organization headquartered in Dallas, Texas that connects female business owners and professionals with one another. It supports, promotes and showcases its members’ products and services and helps them achieve their professional objectives. eWomenNetwork teaches that networking is the art of giving and searching for ways to serve the needs of others before focusing on yourself. It instructs members to be “other-focused.”

The organization bills itself as “the #1 resource for connecting and promoting women and their businesses worldwide.” It also claims to be the “fastest growing membership-based professional women’s networking organization in North America. “We are the marketing machine for women owned businesses and corporate professionals,” eWN cofounder and CEO Sandra Yancy stated. “Every initiative we take on must answer the question, “Does it connect women and does it promote them?”

Membership

eWN has 75 chapters across North America and is rapidly expanding. Members join the national organization, not merely the local chapters, so they can attend meetings or events at any eWomenNetwork venue. Both individual and corporate memberships are offered.

An applicant pays a one-time, life-time $290 initiation fee. She then pays $16.95 per month for membership benefits, which includes having her business profiled on the eWomenNetwork.com Web site and having a link created from eWomenNetwork.com to her personal or business Web site. Under its Three For Free program, the initiation fee will be refunded if a member, at any time during the term of her membership, recommends three new members who are profiled on the Web site. “We are powerful visual connectors,” Robin Ramsey, eWN’s Managing Director for San Francisco noted. “So we want to make sure that members don’t simply register their membership, but we also want them to put their profiles up on our Web site.”

In addition to maintaining members’ Web site profiles, members receive discounts at the organization’s Accelerated Networking Events (ANEs), which is the term eWN uses for chapter meetings. Members are also entitled to receive discounts for conferences and for the products of companies that have strategic alliances allied with eWN.

With their membership, women get two complimentary coaching sessions from eWN’s Premier Success Coaches, who are all certified and experienced coaches. Coaches specialize in a number of areas such as coaching for moms, coaching for creativity and coaching from the legal perspective, which is provided by an attorney. “Success doesn’t happen by accident. It is planned, it’s intentional,” Yancy stresses. “The coaching benefit allows members to be totally self-absorbed and selfish for a couple hours where the focus is only on them and their business. When you are intentional and plan for your success, all of the other things fall into better order.” Members also have access to eWN’s premier faculty, which is composed of noted authors and experts in a number of diverse fields.

Business platform

eWN has a six pronged business platform. All of the components are well in place except the television programming, which as we went to press was still under development. The six parts of the business platform are WomenNetwork’s:

• Web site
• Face-to-face networking
• Radio programming
• Print publications
• Nonprofit foundation
• Television programming

The Web site

eWomenNetwork.com has the world’s largest photographic database of women entrepreneurs and women professionals. It gets 3 million hits per month. “Our members go on it all the time,” says Yancy. “Which tells us that it’s working.” The site contains profiles of eWN’s members and their contact information. Members can post three graphic images with their profile and the eWN database is searchable by names, business categories and geographical areas. The site also includes the members’ forum, the last four eWomenNetwork.com radio shows, testimonials, listing of affiliate alliances as well as photos and information on its managing directors (chapter leaders), premier coaches and premier faculty. A special offers page lists organizations that give discounts to eWN members and an events calendar page provides a map showing where events around the country will be held.

Members can network through the members’ forum, which allows them to promote their businesses, offer specials or simply ask questions.

NETWORKING NUGGET

Sandra Yancy needed an engraver in the Dallas area. The eWomenNetwork International Conference was fast approaching and the organization would be presenting a lot of gifts that needed to be engraved. She checked the eWN membership, but couldn’t locate a member who was a local engraver, so she went to the forum. Yancy posted a request for referrals to an engraver in the Dallas area and within n 48 hours, she had eleven recommendations. From these recommendations, Yancy found her engraver, who did a wonderful job. “That’s the beauty of online networking!” Yancy exclaimed.

Face-to-face networking

An Accelerated Networking Events (chapter meetings) take place at each of the 75 chapters across North America once each month. ANEs are conducted by a managing director. To be a managing director, a woman must have corporate experience or have owned her own business. She must believe that networking is a key component to being successful and the concept that networking is about giving and not about getting. ANEs are run according to eWN’s guidelines and every chapter follows the same basic format. The organization has few rules and feels that the type of members it attracts does require formalized standards.

ANEs are either luncheon events or late afternoon/evening receptions and last for two hours. Display tables are available for women to promote their products or services. Members are encouraged to arrive no later than one-half hour before the meeting is scheduled so that they can network informally. The cost to attend an ANE varies with each chapter, but the average is $35 for members, $48 for nonmembers and $55 for those (both members or guests) who do not sign up until five days before the event. Guests can attend two ANEs, but if they wish to attend more, they must become eWN members.

ANEs are held at hotels, restaurants or private clubs. Upon entering, the women are given name tags and they select a place to sit. Members are encouraged not to sit with friends and associates and to sit with strangers so they can make new contacts. The ANE program begin with a welcome from the managing director. She briefs the groups on the background of eWN cofounders Sandra and Kym Yancy so that they understand that the organization is operated by accomplished and highly successful business professionals. Members and display table sponsors are introduced and a short video is shown that explains the eWN vision and describes the organization. Then structured networking rounds begin.

In round one, each woman is given a card with a number from one to eight. She is told to get up from her seat, all the other women who have the same number and sit with them in a circle. In the circles, each woman states who she is, what service or product she provides and what she wants in the next 30 days. She is given two minutes to state this information. Members are encouraged to identify who they know that could help other members. If a woman in the group can help, she hands the other woman her business card with a notation written on it. Exchanging blank cards is not permitted. Therefore, if Woman A wrote “Bob” on the back of the card she gave Woman B, when Woman B calls, she will remind Woman A that she wrote that “Bob” on her card. This will focus their conversation and build on the rapport they developed at the ANE. “Men do business based on reports, women do business based on rapport,” Ramsey declared.

According to Yancy, ANEs teach women “how to condense their interactions because women get caught up in the connecting piece of it. They get involved in saying, ‘Hi, how are you, how did you get into the business, Do you live here? How long have you been here? Do you have kids, what school do they go to?’ etc. It’s great because it plants seeds in our brains for later recollections of someone, but it can also prevent us from moving from that interaction, to what I call ‘transaction.’ The point is to get women to get down to the business of business.”

The women then return to their original seats and the managing director gives them statistics about women in the business world. She also inquires about round one and how it went, if they got leads or made valuable contacts. Lunch, which was placed on the tables while the women were in the circles, now begins. The managing director then introduces the speaker who speaks for 20 minutes.

After lunch, the women get up and move to another area for round two. In round two, they sit with the other women from their table. In round two, each woman again states who she is, what her product or service is and what she wants in the next 30 days. They then return to the table and the managing director reviews round two and inquires how it went.

The final ANE segment is the raffle, which is designed to familiarize the group with the members’ products or services. “We always hear women say, ‘If people would try my products, I know they would like and buy them,’” Yancy reports. “So, we raffle their products and services to provide that chance.” Members donate their products or services and the other women at the ANE buy raffle tickets. Tickets are $1 each or 8 for $5. The winners can use the products and services, endorse them, continue to purchase and use them or refer them to others. Proceeds from the raffles are donated to the eWomenNetwork Foundation, which allocates the funds to other nonprofit groups in the region where the monies were received.

Radio programming

The eWomenNetwork Radio show is broadcast live every Sunday from 8 to 9 PM, central time. It is carried on the number one ABC affiliate in the nation and penetrates 80 percent of the country. Plus, the programs can be heard live on the Internet.

The purpose of the radio show, which is hosted by Sandra Yancy, is to spotlight eWN members and to create greater awareness of them. Subjects post their profiles and are interviewed by Sandra. The programs are not infomercials, but are conversational. Questions usually asked include, “What are your challenges?” “Why did you do this?” “What is going on with you now?” “How are you surviving these times?” “What’s the greatest success that you have?” “What do you need?” and “How can our listeners connect with you?”

The four most recent radio programs are archived at eWomenNetwork.com. If a member who is listening wants to contact any of the women profiled, she can look her up on the database on the Web site, which contains her target’s contact information.

Print publications

eWN has affiliate alliances and cross promotes with women’s publications across the nation. These publications run ongoing ads for the eWomenNetwork and publish articles and information about the organization and its members. In turn, eWN promotes the publications to its members. Through its print alliances, eWN informs the public about its activities and achievements, attracts new members and gets wide publicity for itself and its members.

Nonprofit eWomenNetwork Foundation

The nonprofit eWomenNetwork Foundation helps women in need, “those who have it really tough.” It also conducts a “fementoring” program for young women in high school and college. The purpose of the foundation is to nurture and grow up-and-coming women who will become the business leaders tomorrow. The foundation contributes to and supports other nonprofit corporations that focus on helping women in need and is conducting a pilot intern program, under which interns will receive college credit. eWN will be encouraging the establishment of similar intern programs in its chapters.

“The eWomenNetwork Foundation is as important an artery to the heart of the organization as the other components. I believe morally that what we are doing is about leaving this planet a better place and most importantly leaving it a better road for women,” Yancy explained.

Conferences and events

In addition to its other activities, eWN also runs several major events. Among them are its annual international conference, which usually lasts four days, a holiday extravaganza that is generally held the first Thursday of each December and one-day Business Exchanges and Expos at the chapters. Sandra Yancy and/or a nationally-recognized speaker will frequently appear at the Business Exchanges and Expos.

Action steps

1. List the five organized groups in your area where you could best network.
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2. State your three major objectives in joining organized networking groups.
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3. Set forth the features or organized networking groups that appeal to you.
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4. List features of organized networking groups that you wish to avoid.
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(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)


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