No woman is an island. You may have gone into business on your own, but that’s no reason to isolate yourself. I’m not suggesting you start hiring (especially if your business is brand new), but I am suggesting that connecting with other like-minded entrepreneurs through professional organizations for women can provide you with a dose of inspiration and motivation — not to mention resources you might not have discovered otherwise.
Why professional organizations for women are so beneficial
As a female business leader and entrepreneur, I know that community is important. That’s why I advocate for women to get involved with professional organizations.
Unlike brief social media interactions and webinars that focus on conveying quick snippets of information, professional organizations for women are about long-term support, connections and growth.
The benefits of joining a professional organization include:
- Connecting: Meet like-minded individuals and you might discover a new mentor, partner or employee in the making.
- Learning: Stay ahead of the curve with regular updates on what’s happening in your industry, with your audience or in your region.
- Improving: Develop new skills (like leadership and public speaking) based on your personal or professional goals.
- Giving back: Getting involved in your community won’t just help your business, it’ll make you feel good, too.
- Growing: Expand your client base through referrals.
- Discounted rates: Gain access to exclusive deals and services.
So how do you find the organization that’s best for you? The following professional organizations for women in business offer something for everyone.
American Business Women’s Association
This national organization brings together women from all industries to help them learn and grow together. With more than 5,000 annual meetings happening across 300 U.S. cities, you’re bound to find a local chapter. Plus, membership comes with magazine and newsletter subscriptions, access to their instructional network and discounts. Learn more
ColorComm offers a plethora of benefits to women of color working in the communications space and has chapters around the country. Membership will get you access to high-profile networking opportunities, professional development seminars, events and more. Learn more.
The Ellevate Network’s biggest differentiator is its four membership levels, which are tailored to varying career stages. For example, the entrepreneur membership is specifically for women starting or growing their own business. But no matter which membership you choose, you’ll still have access to the organization’s networking and educational benefits. Learn more.
This organization offers three core benefits to members: It helps businesswomen get more customers; it teaches them to market their businesses; and it provides access to resources, education and contacts. There are chapters all over the United States and Canada, as well as both in-person and online networking events. Learn more.
National Association of Professional Women
NAPW events take place all over the country (as well as virtually) and include everything from career fairs to workshops to networking events. As a member, you’ll be able to connect with other women in your field, attend training seminars, download podcasts, access discounts, receive customized job alerts and much more. Learn more.
National Association of Women Business Owners
The focus of this organization is to “propel women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide.” As a community of women entrepreneurs, NAWBO provides leadership development opportunities, strategic partnerships, an annual awards program and a national conference. Learn more.
The Association for Women in Communications
Another opportunity for women in the communications sector, this group offers a wealth of online resources, including access to a job board and members-only publications. Make connections and develop your leadership skills through local chapter meetings, which are held throughout the country. Learn more.
Women in Technology International
If you work in technology, you know how important industry conferences and other mass networking events are to professional growth and development. WITI focuses on providing women in technology the opportunity to attend such events. And while it offers other resources (such as career services and education), WITI’s biggest draw is its global network of more than 2 million women. Learn more.
Women’s Business Exchange
Serving as a source of inspiration and empowerment for women in business, the WBE focuses on events and programs that educate and elevate. As a member, you can expect to flex your learning, networking and mentoring muscles. Learn more.
If you’re short on time or funds but still want to join a supportive community, consider one of these professional organizations for women:
- Business and Professional Women’s Foundation
- Center for Women & Enterprise
- Girl Develop It
- National Association for Female Executives
- National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs
- National Center for Women & Information Technology
- Savor the Success
- U.S. Small Business Administration – Women’s Business Centers
- Woman Owned
- Women 2.0
- Women Impacting Public Policy
- Women Who Tech
- Women’s Business Development Center
Finding the right fit
Before choosing an organization and forking over your dues, make sure the association shares your business goals. You might also want to take into consideration the targeted industries, chapter locations and any memberships dues or fees.
Remember that this is about becoming part of a community of female leaders. If the group isn’t the right fit, then you probably won’t benefit from it. So take your time and find the one that’s best for you.