It has been two years since Heidi Ives, Dorothy Rogers-Bullis, and Rachel Spensieri first began discussing the need for a women’s networking group in Saratoga Springs.
While each of these women comes from differing professional backgrounds and industries, they pooled their collective talents, and from those early conversations, the Saratoga Women in Business (SWIB) was established.
SWIB targets female professionals in the greater Saratoga Springs area and offers free bi-monthly fellowship opportunities, hosted and sponsored by various local businesses. Wine and light snacks, donated by the host business, are provided at each gathering, and door prizes, provided by SWIB members, also are awarded.
“I often point out that men do their professional networking on the golf course, and women often have a tough time finding a comfortable venue that serves that same purpose,” said cofounder Heidi Ives, a manager and mortgage loan originator with HomeBridge Financial.
“One of my primary goals for the SWIB gatherings was to provide a casual, unintimidating atmosphere for professional women to enjoy a glass of wine and network with each other,” she said. “Our unofficial motto for SWIB is ‘Make friends first, and the business will follow,’ and time and time again, this is exactly how new business relationships are formed.”
Dorothy Rogers-Bullis, owner of drb Business Interiors and Saratoga CoWorks, is passionate about professional mentoring, so her top motivation for cofounding the SWIB group was to encourage women business owners to work with one another in order to grow their businesses.
“I want women to have a chance to lift each other up, and SWIB is a great way to find women who are providing the very services and products that you already need,” Rogers-Bullis said. “The gatherings also afford a valuable opportunity, especially for young or new business owners, to learn from other successful female professionals in our area,” she continued.
In addition to the wine, light appetizers, and door prizes, every SWIB meeting also includes a five-minute presentation by a local woman-led non-profit organization.
For cofounder Rachel Spensieri, a freelance writer and editor, this was an important component of the group’s mission.
“I am in constant awe of the important and life-changing work done by not-for-profits, and we are fortunate to have a number of these outstanding organizations in the Saratoga Springs area being led by women who are making a positive impact on people’s lives,” Spensieri said.
As they enter their third year of organizing the bi-monthly gatherings, the SWIB cofounders have been excited to see the group continue to grow in popularity.
“We started off with a handful of women who had heard about SWIB through word-of-mouth, and we now have packed venues at our gatherings and hundreds of members in our LinkedIn group,” said Ives. “The growth of SWIB over the past two years proves that women truly want to help one another succeed.”
SWIB will hold their next bi-monthly meeting on Wednesday, March 15 from 5-7 p.m. at Saratoga National Bank, 171 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
The March non-profit spotlight will be on AIM Services, which provides support and services to people with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. To learn more or to register for the March 15 networking event, visit www.saratogawomeninbusiness.com.