The Women’s Entrepreneurship Opportunity Is Not For Women Only
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the holders of money. Berman says, “The founders who participated in the Global Pitch Competition had the ‘wow’ factor written all over them. They got time on the stage in front of a room full of investors because their businesses were impressive, not because they were women.”
Relationship Building Is the New Network Building
One of the common factors that came through in my research on women entrepreneurs and board members is that these successful women cultivated relationships. They did not attend networking events, because they saw no value in exchanging business cards or superficial niceties. Instead, successful women brought together the right people at the right time to realize a shared vision. Berman says, “To make it in high-growth, it is about being confident enough to know that you are the one to pursue a dream and yet humble enough to know you cannot do it alone.”
While there was ample time for traditional networking at WOIS, the salon format proved conducive to building relationships that have a shot at lasting beyond the conference. Berman says, “Unlike the typical talking-head format, individuals shared their battles, concerns, and wisdom freely. It was truly an exchange of ideas and conversations that carried on well past the confines of the agenda’s timetable.”
Time to Ask Men a Different Question
While there were some men at WOIS, they were significantly outnumbered by women. Quinton says that attending WOIS was a “no-brainer” for him. He sat on two sold-out panels: one titled “Getting the Wallets Out of the Pockets of Investors” and the other focused on getting more women onto corporate boards. Quinton says, “I attended WOIS to lend my voice and my network to debate on how to promote greater equality in the start-up arena and on corporate boards.”
Nunneley wanted to physically show his support and lend his voice to the conversation. He says, “Those men who attended came away with much thought-provoking material and very valuable business contacts whose intellect they would not have otherwise spotted.”
As I looked around the room full of highly qualified female investors, entrepreneurs, and board members on the last day of the conference, I joked with Nunneley about an excuse I have heard from far too many male investors and executives with no women founders in their portfolios or on their boards: “I can never find any qualified women who are interested.” Considering how many qualified women were in the room with us, Nunneley said “I believe the question now is: Where are all the men?” Great point. What’s your answer?
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