New Orleans has no shortage of professional networking groups that can help inspire, teach, and grow women in business. As a woman-owned company, we know first hand just how helpful these professional organizations can be! In honor of Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day we asked leaders of womens’ networking groups in New Orleans for their tips for women in business. Whether you’re just starting out, or growing your career, you need to read what these inspiring women have to say.
- Three Top Tips For New Business Women
- Why is it Important to Lift Up Women In Business
- Mentorship for Women in NOLA
- Women’s Business Organizations in New Orleans – A Comprehensive List
- Why & How to Join These Women’s Organizations?
Three Top Tips For New Business Women
All of the women we spoke to are business leaders in their own right and have learned a thing or two about how to succeed as women in business. It all boils down to these three things:
1. Have Your Business Basics Covered
Both Liz Broekman of Fidelity P.O.W.E.R., and Barbara Barach, president of ABWA say a business plan is an absolute must. But more than that, you need to workshop it with other people to really succeed. “Ask peers to review your business plan and offer constructive criticism,” says Barbara. You should also know when to hire experts to help. Liz suggests “hire a good accountant who can get you set up from the beginning so your books are organized. Surround yourself with smart people who can share guidance and experience with you.”
Your business plan needs to cover not just the basics of your business. It needs to explain how and why your business is different. “Be clear in your unique value proposition and pound the pavement. Make your “why” known. And be sure everyone is aware of what you need,” says Mariska Morse, co-founder of Salon 22.
Expanding on the “why” of your business, Michelle Denise Craig, Founder of DiversiTea, says “becoming successful in business as a woman will always require you to keep going back to how you started and who you want it to be. Be clear about your “why.” Revisit your vision, adapt to the changes, and persevere. Keep learning and be very clear about what you do not know . Surround yourself with people who know those things.”
2. Grow your Group
Every business woman we spoke to made it clear: you need to have good people on your side! Both personally and professionally, the people you surround yourself with are going to be the cheerleaders, experts, and helping hand you need to succeed.
Rebecca Gustafson of POW provided a pep-talk to get us out there. “Pride yourself in asking for advice and help from others. We are not built to know it all. We are not built to do it alone.” Having a group of other businesswomen as allies is key. She continues “business is way more fun when you have people that will cheer on your successes and cry with you when you think you failed. They will also help to dust you off and turn that failure into one phenomenal lesson learned. Having a strong team of advisors will give you the confidence and expertise to make better choices.”
It doesn’t just feel good to have people on your team. Sandra Lombana Lindquist of The New Orleans Chamber reminds us, it’s a proven strategy. “Recent research from Harvard Business Review indicates that women who also cultivate an informative circle of well-connected female peers are more likely to secure executive positions with greater authority and higher pay.”
3. Learn as much as you can
“Learn, learn, learn,” says Laila Morcos of LikeMinded Ladies. Especially when you are just starting out, there is a whole world of knowledge you need to know. Use this time as an opportunity to learn as much as you can about your business and industry. “Keep reading and up-leveling your skills and knowledge,” Morcos concluded.
Taking the time to learn creates its own advantages, says Christine Titus of Women’s Professional Council. “Use every opportunity you can to learn and grow. Developing yourself professionally will open the doors to many opportunities.”
Lifting Up Women In Business Is Helpful For Everyone
The saying “it takes a village” works for women in business too. Every leader responded in kind: lifting up any woman in business lifts all women in business. Rebecca Gustafson tells a story that really helps us to understand why we need to lift each other up. “My managing partner once asked me to visualize the physical act of pushing someone down vs lifting them up. When you push someone down you are also pushing yourself down. When you are lifting someone up you are going higher too. We are not aiming to lift people up to lift ourselves up, but that is an amazing bonus. When we take time to understand someone…we learn about ourselves. We help that woman to learn more about themselves and their business as they talk through their goals and obstacles.”
“Until the 21st-century women were not invited to compete at the highest levels of business broadly speaking,” Mariska Morse reminds us. “While times are changing, it’s still the exception versus the rule; the glass ceiling is real and even more so for Black women.”
Working together is the key to overcoming inequality. “Women make up almost half of the U.S. workforce,” says Christine Titus. “It’s important to find ways to support and empower women so we can overcome gender inequality and gender bias in every profession.”
Support Through The Difficult Times
Sometimes we don’t need a lift up, we need a liferaft. “Women often carry the weight of their entire household on their shoulders. And, for some of our members, their entire company. No one can hold onto the ball one hundred percent of the time without dropping it,” says Barbara Barach. “Having a tribe of women that understands that, has your back, catches the ball for you, and supports you through it all is invaluable.”
“We need to remind each other that we can do it,” says Michelle Craig. “ We need to remind each other that it is okay to rest. And we need to remind each other that there will be a better tomorrow. Our girls need to see us succeed, but we need to see each other succeed as well.”
“Have a rough day or don’t know how to handle an employee? Reach out to another woman in business, a member of your tribe, for advice and solace,” says Morcos. “We cannot do this alone; not created to live on an island. Women are social beings. When we are running businesses, we may need some extra help at work or at home. We can all lift each other up the best that we can. Plus, it just feels good to help others!”
Mentoring Helps The Mentor and The Mentee
Having a group of people to be your cheerleaders, and to help you up when you fall is key. But the mentor/mentee relationship is particularly important. We firmly believe that mentoring works both ways. The mentor always learns something new from their mentee!
Barbara Barach put it eloquently. “According to Eleanor Roosevelt, you should learn from the mistakes of others because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. Senior professional women can mentor younger women in business. They can share their experiences and the mistakes that they have learned from to be successful. In return, the younger women in business will share a fresh perspective with the senior professional women. ABWA CCCEN encourages diversity so that there is a pool of learning, shared experiences, and resources for all members.”
“I just believe it is our duty to help the next person,” says Michelle Craig. “That sometimes means telling them the easy parts and the hard parts about being in business. It also means providing a hand or providing information that often doesn’t get passed along. The way we win is by sharing resources, sharing information, and holding one another up. This enables us to pay it back by paying it forward.”
How do mentors or mentees find each other?
Sandra Lombana Lindquist recommends that “senior professional women should purposefully seek out organizations that support young professionals like Loyola University’s Women’s Leadership Academy. Through these programs, they can provide mentorship and opportunities to younger women.”
“The sky is really the limit once a woman decides to help another woman,” says Laila Morcos. “They can both feel unstoppable.” Michelle Craig reminds us of this quote from Madeleine Albright. “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Craig concludes, “at all times, choose to be a helper.”
Women’s Business Organizations in New Orleans – A Comprehensive List
- American Business Women’s Association, Crescent City Connections Express Network
- Diversitea Divas
- LikeMinded Ladies
- NAWBO NOLA
- Potential Of Women Entrepreneurs Realized
- Power of Women
- Women’s Business Alliance from the New Orleans Chamber
- Women’s Professional Council
- Women’s Business Resource Center from the Urban League
Why (and How to) Join These Women’s Organizations in New Orleans?
We asked each of these awesome women’s business group leaders to explain the benefits of membership in their organizations. Each group has different offerings and benefits. We recommend that new business women try out many different networking opportunities with the groups that spark their interest.
After everything you’ve read from these inspiring women, we hope you’re excited to meet up virtually or at an in-person networking event. Getting involved in New Orleans women’s business organizations can be as easy as attending a meeting but every group is different. Here’s why & how you can get involved with the organizations featured in this post.
American Business Women’s Association
“We are a diverse organization for the seasoned business owner, someone just starting a new business or someone looking to advance their career. We have a local and national component that offers leadership, education, networking, and national recognition.”
ABWA CCCEN has a luncheon meeting with a guest speaker on the 3rd Thursday of every month, from 11 am to 1 pm at The Moore Venue in Elmwood. They also have monthly happy hours – find more information on their events page. Anyone looking to pursue professional development and networking opportunities with ABWA CCCEN is welcome to join at any event and learn more about membership. Members are encouraged to get involved on committees and to work towards board positions. Barbara Barach says “our committee positions include membership, programming, fundraising, social media, communications, newsletter, community outreach, award, and more. We welcome all levels of participation: whether they are already knowledgeable or would like to develop a new skill. The more people that get involved, the more that we can accomplish.”
“DiversiTea Divas provides an intimate forum for professional women to network with and mentor college-aged and high school students, all in an effort to develop a new generation of women to enter into the workforce. We also provide a dynamic group of mentors. These women are ready and willing to pass on their wealth of experience to our beloved mentees, the next group of up-and-coming professional women.”
Apart from the quarterly meetings known affectionately as “DiversiTea Tea Talks,” Diversitea also has our larger forum, the Annual DiversiTea Holiday Tea event that usually occurs in the 4th quarter of the year. Anyone looking to get involved can message us on diversiteadivas.org or via our social media pages or email us at [email protected].
“Women who join LikeMinded Ladies not only enjoy unique experiences at our networking events, they also have the chance to connect personally and professionally. We understand that to be successful professionally, it is important to have support personally as well. That is why we have a range of speakers to address many topics. Everything from marketing and sales to women’s health issues and more. We even learned how to make charcuterie boards at one of our recent events. Members also know that LikeMinded Ladies was created to elevate all women. Our mission is to remove any judgment or thoughts of competition between women. That’s soooo old school! When one of us thrives, we all do! Our members have so much fun when they attend our events because we provide a safe space to CONNECT.ELEVATE.BALANCE.”
LML meets for women’s networking on the first Tuesday of each month, except in July, at various locations around the New Orleans metro area. Cocktails start at 6 PM. To join all you need to do is reach out! Send an email to [email protected].
Potential Of Women Entrepreneurs Realized
“The P.O.W.E.R. program is designed to meet the unique needs of women entrepreneurs. We give you the tools you need to succeed and flourish. Women are part of a powerful group that network together, do business with each other, empower each other and encourage each other. Fidelity bank gives women a platform to collaborate and share with one another as well as offers educational opportunities and marketing opportunities. P.O.W.E.R has recently established the POWER Up: mentorship program specifically for experienced women to share their expertise with women starting out.”
Fidelity P.O.W.E.R meets at different times and locations throughout the year. Information can be found on their events page. Liz Broekman says “getting involved is as easy as opening an account. The POWER 350 account is a business checking account with up to 350 transactions per month free. Just go to your nearest branch and ask to open a POWER account!”
Power of Women
“Our mission is to bring women in business together in a trusting, comfortable environment to share ideas, experiences, and best practices that empower each other to grow. This is achieved through monthly closed group discussions & by building a network of women within the community who provide each other with advice, support, and connections. I think there is extreme value found in the relationships formed when like-minded women get together. When we are running businesses and companies this huge aspect of our life can begin to feel like an island. There is a lot of truth to the statement “it’s lonely at the top.” The idea of being completely vulnerable about business fears, aspirations, and every strategy is not always easy and even appropriate.”
POW has four advisory board chapters that meet monthly, and a few socials a year. Power of Women is an exclusive, invitation only organization that grows from current members introducing a new member into the organization.
“As a member of Salon22, you will join an intentionally diverse community of like-minded women from across the city, women that are most likely outside your circle. Salon22 will give our members a safe, beautiful space to gather, develop meaningful connections, and advance themselves personally, professionally and their community through comfortable co-working spaces, daily happy hours/coffee meet-ups, expert speakers, and extensive onsite resources.”
Salon22 is currently in the start-up phase; they are hosting pop-up events every month while they build their founding membership base and look for the perfect physical space to open their doors later this year. Salon22 has two events in March, check out our online events calendar to register! Interested business women can learn more about Salon22, sign-up to be on our mailing list, or consider becoming a Founding Member to be a part of the business launch!
Women’s Business Alliance
“The New Orleans Chamber hosts two events for women. One is the Women’s Business Alliance (WBA), and the other is the Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). We partner with many women’s organizations in the region on our programs, and we are a huge proponent of uplifting the voices of business women.”
WBA has an annual conference. This year it will be Friday, March 18th. Otherwise, meetings are held monthly. Visit their website and subscribe to their mailing list to get an update on all upcoming events and women’s networking. The WBA is part of the New Orleans Chamber, a non-profit, business membership organization, with over 1,200 companies that are chamber members. Anyone can join, and it’s only $180 a year for a small business with less than 5 full time employees.
Women’s Professional Council
“Being in WPC gives our members the value of each other’s shared experiences, opportunities to learn about issues affecting the GNO area as well as professional women specifically, and support and connection on professional, social, and personal levels.”
We typically hold our meetings on the first Monday evening of the month. Location varies. Reach out to a current member or fill out the contact form on our website at wpc-no.org
Is your organization missing from the list? Get in touch to be included.