For mums wanting to get back to work, or to start a business, there’s the daunting feeling of loneliness. You’ve been out of the market, lost your old workmates, don’t know how to find customers beyond immediate family. Business networking is a good starting point, and Athena Network is tailor made for women.
Holding more than 1200 meetings for business women annually, The Athena Network comprises 26 franchises, more than 2600 networking members across 30 regions nationwide.
Established in 2005, The Athena Network was founded to provide women who were unable to commit to early breakfast networking meetings with opportunities to meet business women from a wide range of industry sectors from large corporates to sole traders.
Sylvia Baldock, Regional Director of Athena in the West Chilterns and National Sales Director for Athena, says, “Women join Athena to increase the growth of their existing business, to get established after returning to work following a family career break, or because they want to meet businesswomen having moved to a new area. Their reasons may differ but their outlook is the same. They want to meet other dynamic professionals such as themselves and share knowledge, experience and ideas to take their business to the next level.
“Networking is an essential part of business growth for women in particular and women are generally very open to new ideas and keen to help each other in business. Most women will devote time to building relationships and are then able to refer each other to their wider network of contacts.
“Athena provides opportunities to make strategic connections with professionals in a wide range of industry sectors and encourages women in business to inspire and support each other for greater success whilst also developing their business skills.”
Typical professions seen at Athena include accountants, solicitors, marketing experts, graphic and web designers, financial advisers, business and personal coaches, photographers, holistic therapists, interior designers, image consultants and event managers.
The downside of Athena is that it only allows one person per profession to join each regional group to avoid any conflicts of interest. This strategy is seen asbackward-thinking by other networking groups like 4Networking – another fast-growing business network which also has many mumpreneurs among its members.
Jane Lelean of Healthy and Wealthy in Aylesbury says, “The value of referrals I have received via Athena this year is £6,835. With the fees I have paid to Athena for membership of two groups and 11 lunches that still equates to a return on investment of 950%! Excluding the friendships I have made, which are priceless.”
Sylvia Baldock continues, “Networking is fantastic for growing your business and our groups also offer a warm, fun and supportive environment whether you are just setting up your own business or are part of an established business looking to expand further.”
Membership to Athena costs £235 annually and £20 a month for each business lunch meeting.