Here is an article written by Melissa J. Anderson (New York City) for The Glass Hammer, an online community designed for women executives in financial services, law and business. “Visit us daily to discover issues that matter, share experiences, and plan networking, your career and your life.”
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On The Glass Hammer, we discuss the importance of networking almost on a daily basis. While your company may provide networking events or you may belong to a professional organization that offers networking opportunities, when it comes to networking, it can be difficult to find the group that meets your needs or aligns with your personal interests.
The United Women in Business Foundation is a non-profit designed to encourage networking between women of different generations. The organization was originally founded by a group of George Washington University alumnae in December of 2009. The women, who had been part of a networking group as undergraduates, wanted to continue developing their careers, but couldn’t find quite what they were looking for. So they decided to found their own.
Mara Geltzeiler, the group’s Vice President of Finance, explained, “We hope to band together and bridge the gaps that exist for women in business.”
The group is made up of four generations of women – seasoned professionals, young professionals, college students, and high school students and focuses on mentoring. She explained, “we reach out to underprivileged high school students because these school districts often lack the resources to educate these young women from a business standpoint.”
She continued, “We want to help young, inner city women recognize what their future can hold.”
The group’s college membership is sourced by existing networks like NYU Stern’s Undergraduate Stern Women in Business, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs Women in Leadership, George Washington University’s GW Women in Business, and more.
Regarding professional women, the group has reached out to colleagues and friends, and is always looking for more members. Geltzeiler said, “We all have a network of executive level women, and by merely asking them to contribute their time they have been more than generous.”
She continued, “I think they realize that a gap exists, and they want to pull women up. They have been very willing to help in any way they can.”
Geltzeiler explained that the United Women in Business builds groups of “mentor families” – individuals who work in the same field, but not in the same company, and consist of women of different experience levels. She explained, “You can have more candid relationship with someone who’s not necessarily in your company. External networking enables you to be more open about your challenges, yet still get advice from someone in your field.”
Regarding its focus on mentoring inner city high school women, she explained, “There is a lot for us to learn about our community. And we’re constantly learning something from the younger generation as well – whether it’s something about creativity or technological innovation.”
The non-profit, which is open to women of all generations in Washington, New York, and Chicago, has a number of events planned in the coming months, including an event in June on salary negotiation. The group is also hoping to stream the event on the web.
Personal Lessons from Building an Organization
Geltzeiler said she’s learned a lot personally from getting involved and helping to launch the United Women in Business Foundation. She said, “I’ve learned how much it means to me to make a positive impact on other people’s lives.”
She continued, “I’ve enjoyed speaking up and sharing my experiences, and creating this platform for others to do the same.”
“We’re just getting started, and we encourage advice and constructive criticism,” she added.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Melissa J. Anderson is a writer, editor, and social media expert for The Glass Hammer. She is interested in how engaging in networked communities can foster workplace gender equality, good corporate citizenship, and individual workplace satisfaction, all of which improve a company’s bottom line.