For women only

Written by Suzanne Boles

Businessmen have long enjoyed the benefits of an “old boys'” network. Indeed, pressing flesh, a round of golf or a few drinks at the club are just some of the ways men connect with their colleagues, peers, customers and suppliers. Now women are recognizing the value of networking, too. The result has been a surge in women’s networking groups, nationally and internationally, offering a variety of opportunities to meet and greet, learn and establish solid business relationships.

Just ask Diane Wolf. The president of Peterborough, Ont.’s Treeholm Communications is a master networker who benefits from memberships in Canadian Entrepreneurial Women, Canadian Business Women’s Network and Royal Bank: Women Entrepreneurs. “I run a business in a community of about 70,000,” says Wolf, “and often need to obtain information about services in larger areas like Toronto.” The opportunity to share information and resources with like-minded women entrepreneurs, she says, is invaluable.

To help you and your business get better connected, Xchange has compiled a list of Canadian organizations designed to help women entrepreneurs:

Alberta Women’s Enterprise Initiative Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Alberta women start and grow their businesses. Offers monthly meetings in cities across the province, plus workshops. No membership fee. Most services are free. http://www.awei.ab.ca

Association of Women Business Owners of the Lower Mainland BC Founded in 1978 with the mandate to support and encourage women in business through regular dinner meetings (eight per year) with presentations from dynamic guest speakers and businesspeople offering practical ideas to help grow your business. Membership Fees: $75.00. Meetings: Members $30.00, Non-members $39.00. http://www.wbo.ca

Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs This Toronto-based, not-for-profit organization was founded in 1976 to provide a forum for businesswomen to develop and expand their businesses, while increasing the overall visibility of women in executive, professional and entrepreneurial roles. Membership includes access to monthly meetings with guest speakers, a newsletter, and workshops. Open to full-time business owners in the greater Toronto area who have operated for two or more years. Membership Fees: individual or sponsored members $240.75, corporate member $216.68, out of town (working outside of GTA) $85.60. http://www.cawee.net

Canadian Business Women’s Network provides resources for, and promotes, women in business through listings on its website and in the organization’s directory. Also offers a business to business exchange, sales promotions, events, seminars and workshops. There are chapters in Nova Scotia, B.C., Ontario, and Alberta. Membership Fees: $49.99/year, $34.00 for renewal. http://www.cdnbizwomen.com

Canadian Entrepreneurial Women is a free Internet discussion group for Canadian businesswomen and entrepreneurs. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CEW

Organization of Women in International Trade A non-profit professional organization designed to promote women doing business in international trade by providing networking and educational opportunities with over 2,000 members worldwide. Canadian chapters are in Toronto and Alberta. Membership Fees: Annual — Toronto $125, Alberta $75.

Reseau des femmes d’affaires du Quebec This Quebec businesswomen’s network has several regional offices and its head office is in Montreal. Its mandate is to contribute to the success of businesswomen (entrepreneurs, managers and professionals) by promoting contacts, self-help and a dynamic business network. Membership Fees: 224.30 / year. http://www.rfaq.ca

Royal Bank: Women Entrepreneurs offers a collection of online resources, networking opportunities and information, news sharing forum, contacts, resources including information about financing business growth, training sessions and publications to Canadian women business owners. No membership fee. http://www.royalbank.com/sme/women/

Step Ahead is a Toronto-based business mentoring organization that offers one-on-one mentoring by matching women entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses with experienced mentors. It also offers quarterly networking meetings. http://www.stepaheadonline.com/

Women Business Owners of Manitoba-Winnipeg Since 1986, WBO has been supporting women business owners through networking opportunities, mentoring and support of personal growth. It offers monthly meetings workshops, seminars and a newsletter. It holds an annual Women Entrepreneur Awards Night each spring. Membership Fees: Regular membership $139.10, corporate and government $642.00, affiliate $214.00. http://www.wbom.mb.ca

Women Entrepreneurs of Canada This Toronto-based organization offers established entrepreneurs opportunities to expand nationally and internationally by connecting with other successful businesswomen. Membership Fees: All per year plus GST: Voting Members $300; Associate Virtual Members $150; Individual Associate $350; Corporate Associate, bronze $1,000; Corporate Associate, silver $2,500; Corporate Associate, gold $5,000. http://www.wec.ca

Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan With offices in Saskatoon and Regina, this non-profit organization offers women business owners business advisory and lending services, business development workshops and seminars that focus on entrepreneurial skill development. Membership Fees: Full membership of $80.25, Associate $26.75. http://www.womenentrepreneurs.sk.ca

Women Presidents’ Organization There are currently three Canadian chapters of this New York-based group — two in Toronto, one in Montreal. The organization brings together a diverse group of women presidents with businesses that have at least $2 million in annual revenue ($1 million for service-based businesses). Local meetings are coordinated by a professional facilitator and include guest speakers as well as roundtable discussions, which are designed to address members’ specific needs. Membership Fees: Member-at-Large $750; Chapter Member $1,250; Platinum Group $3,000. http://womenpresidentsorg.com

© 2004 Suzanne Boles

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com