By Gary Haber
York Daily Record, Pa.
Sherri Dietz said she was a little nervous talking in front of people, as she stood before about 20 or so other members of the Women’s Referral Exchange Network on a recent Wednesday in a private dining room at the Roosevelt Tavern.
“We’re not people, we’re friends,” one of the other members told Dietz, the owner of Wellness Massage Works in West Manchester Township.
The friendly message calmed Dietz’s nerves and she launched into a flawless presentation about her massage therapy business and the path — both personal and professional — that led her to go into business.
At one point during Dietz’s talk, someone called for a show of hands about how many of the group’s members have been clients of Dietz. Almost half of the hands in the room shot up.
Those two moments sum up what the women’s networking group is all about — creating a supportive environment in which women refer business to one another and develop the kind of professional connections that help grow their business.
Men have long had their old boys networks. WREN and other women-only networking groups in York County are helping women entrepreneurs and professionals make their own contacts.
Women’s Network of York started about 30 years ago and has about 75 members, said Theresa LaCesa, its president. The group’s purpose is to “inspire, engage and empower women,” she said.
York County has no shortage of networking groups with a membership of both men and women. But some members of women-only networking groups say it’s a different dynamic being part of a group that’s for women only.
“We’re able to talk more freely,” said Lisa Barshinger, present of Women’s Independent Networking Group of York. “It’s much easier to open up when you’re with a group of all women.”