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Saturday, July 25, 2009

ROYAL RELATIONSHIP BUILDING: Women in Consulting- Discover the Power of Collaboration Today!

Royal Relationship Building by Kathleen Ronald

This month, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to a phenomenal group called Women in Consulting. Pay attention, because this group blew me away! WIC is a vibrant, diverse and powerful community of consultants and small business owners working to build strong businesses. It creates unique opportunities to connect and share leads and resources with like-minded business professionals.

For this month’s article, I interviewed the lovely Jennifer Berkley, of The Insight Advantage, and the current Vice President of WIC. I was able to talk to her about the wonderful group that she has been involved in for about ten years now. I have known and worked with Jen over the years, and it came as no surprise to me to hear that of the ten years she has worked with WIC, she has been on the board of directors for seven of those ten years. What a girl!

As you know, I love hearing a good story about how a group gets started, so I asked Jen to tell me the history of Women in Consulting. As she explained, four or five women, who were acquaintances, started sharing information and supporting each other informally. Since the collaboration, resources, support and sisterhood were going so well, the gals decided that more people ought to be able to experience this great network. So, in 1997, they officially became known as the Self Employed Women’s Network, or SEWN. This title lasted a few years, before they changed SEWN to WIC: Women in Consulting. The gals felt that the name SEWN lent itself to people thinking they were a group for home makers, rather than consultants. So, as any good marketing consultant would suggest, they re-branded to be more appealing to their target market; and they have remained this way for the last ten years.

I asked how Jen had become involved in such a dynamic organization, and she told me her story. Jen was told about this group from fellow consultants when she was taking a class on how to start a consulting business. The business she was trying to launch was a customer research firm; she had been working for the same company for 17 years, and was looking for a new and bigger challenge. Research, an important element of her job as a product manager, was the obvious focus for her new niche, and she felt that it was a huge need for many organizations. As a new endeavor, Jen was unsure what to do with her new dream; however, Women in Consulting helped her make it happen. Jen “wouldn’t still be in business if it weren’t for this group.” She reports that she owes so much to WIC for all that it has provided, in the form of expertise, resources, and most importantly, referrals.

Personally, I feel in large part her success has been because she gives so much. For anyone who is smart enough to get on a board or volunteer in any way, the return on your investment is always, in my mind, tenfold!

I was curious as to whether this group was for women only. Jennifer, however, told me that although the vast majority of its members are women, WIC is not restricted to the fairer sex. There are men in the group, although they make up less than 1% of the membership.

WIC currently has around 200 local members, as well as 200 affiliates.

This group, as Jen explained, is an organization that creates many opportunities during the month for members to take advantage of “face to face” networking. They offer professional development as well. While Women in Consulting started in the Bay Area, and hosts meetings only in the Bay Area, their outreach is now worldwide, thanks to their affiliate program.

According to Jen the benefit of being a WIC affiliate is that it allows people who are in the Bay Area to take advantage of the in-person offerings; and for those who do not live in an area with this type of group, they can instantly plug into WIC’s virtual community via the WIC Community email list, which allows participants to:

- Tap the collective intelligence of a large think tank of experienced consultants

- Receive prequalified recommendations on best practices, resources, and tools

- Connect to people across various geographical locations, which currently includes at least 11 different states and 3 countries

This Affiliate list, which costs $75 to join, serves participants in a number of ways. Just listen to Jennifer’s glowing report of how WIC helped her out most recently:

“I was working with my business coach, and she recommended that I find a “clipping service” so I could keep an eye on news about companies that I’m targeting. This would give me research on the company prior to approaching them. Since this was new to me, I posted my need on the WIC Community list and within an hour I had over 15 recommendations for free/inexpensive clipping/news alert services. People on the WIC Community list are very willing to share, which saved me so much time and effort.

According to Jennifer, this example is just one of many ways that WIC makes life and business easy for her on a daily basis.

“The benefits of this list alone make me much more capable of running my business. I can access information in little or no time, which is a huge time savings. Also, the list involves like-minded people running consulting organizations, so their feedback on any request that I have is beneficial, because we’re all in the same field.”

WIC also offers a membership option at $175, which provides a variety of benefits, including:

    - Access to the WIC Community email list

    - Discounts on monthly meetings, workshops, and webinars

    - Invitations to special members-only events

    - A directory listing on the WIC website

Each year, WIC conducts a Consulting Compensation and Best Practices Study to gather data about revenue trends and consulting best practices. The results are available to all survey participants and WIC members.

As in traditional networking, there is always the opportunity to build solid relationships over time with the people within the community.

Without paying any dues, you can access all kinds of articles and other resources, including the WIC blog via the WIC website. The website also provides information about other networking opportunities for consultants ~ all for free! Sounds good to me!

For those of you fortunate enough to live in the Bay Area near Women in Consulting, you can check out their monthly meetings, which include networking, dinner, and great speakers that discuss relevant topics. The meetings go from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm on the 3rd Thursday of every month. In fact, I will be speaking to WIC on September 17th, so mark your calendars! You do not even need to be a member to attend!

Whether or not you live close enough to attend a meeting, there is so much that Women in Consulting can offer you! If you are a single business owner trying to start up a franchise, or just looking to see what is out there, I encourage you to go check out WIC and find out how they can make your dreams come true today!

If you are interested in learning more about Women in Consulting, please visit, or you can contact Deborah Plumley, Vice President of Membership at

For more details, please visit Kathleen's TNNW Bio.

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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