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    7 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S GROUP
     
    A women’s professional group can be invaluable for professional women. As a member of a quality group, you can grow your network while you get support and advice to help you in your career.
     
    Finding resources like these are critical for women in business, especially those who are entrepreneurs and run small businesses. Even though women form the fastest-growing segment of small business owners, many have trouble accessing capital and other resources they need.
     
    If you are a professional woman looking for a networking group to join, here are seven elements to look for:
     
    Networking: The kind of professional that attends the events is important. This isn’t speed dating. There should be a balance between business and social components. The group shouldn’t be about hard sales pitches, instead providing an opportunity to cultivate conversations that flow naturally.
     
    Diverse programming:
    Certainly, sessions about work-life balance are helpful, but look for groups that also talk about business strategies for women.
     
    Special perks: A bonus is when a group can offer you some perks. As an example, members of Valley Bank’s Women in Business program can get special deals, waived fees and access to board rooms at branches for meetings.
     
    A quality host: Look at the longevity of the program, consider the services and perks to see if they fit your business needs, and consider whether the program would be worth a long-term commitment.
     
    Sharing of ideas and best practices: You want to learn and be inspired if you are taking the time to attend meetings. Join a group where you feel comfortable sharing strategies and ideas as you get insights from like-minded people.

    Would you bring your friends? It’s great if a group allows you to bring friends to events even if they are not members or customers. Bringing a friend can help make you feel comfortable if you don’t yet know the folks in the group.
     
    In-person meetings: We have plenty of virtual meetings in our lives. Inperson interaction is a key component for forming significant relationships. Think hard about whether you want to join a program after you try it out by going to a meeting. Is it something you will be excited about? If not, don’t join.
     
    Valley Bank’s Women in Business program fosters meaningful relationships for Montgomery’s professional women, while also sharing information about banking and financial matters.
     
    MEET THE EXPERT
    Elizabeth DuBard is First Vice President and Market Manager at Valley Bank, based in the downtown Montgomery branch and also serves as Valley’s Women in Business Ambassador. Contact her at 334-270-3040 or at edubard@valley.com to learn more about becoming a Women in Business member.
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