From July 12th to July 15, the 12th annual eWomenNetwork Conference is happening in Dallas, Texas. About 2000 women business professionals are expected to attend. The eWomenNetwork connects over 500,000 business professionals through its network, and is “recognized as the #1 resource for connecting and promoting women and their businesses worldwide”.
Sandra Yancey is one of the co-founders behind this inter-connected community of women-owned businesses. And somehow- the day before their huge conference in Dallas- she found time to connect with us, chat about her organization, and share some great tips as well.
Our Interview with Sandra Yancey
What gave you the idea for the eWomen Network? In 2000, there weren’t many other organizations to imitate.
After 13 years of being in corporate America, I moved from the “Little ‘D’” to the “Big ‘D’” – Dainton, Ohio to Dallas, Texas. At that point in time, I started a solo consulting practice, which is when I got my first real taste of what it meant to be really successful, but unhappy.
Kym said, “They just don’t know you exist.”
So, I started going to networking groups, which were predominately male and I had my “Aha!” moment about the “good old boys” network – I mean this in a good way! These groups focused on best practices, leads, strategic introductions, and me being a female and in the minority felt welcome, but not quite “allowed” to play the game.
I went to a few women’s groups, but they just didn’t compare. I said, “Where are all the women that want to build million-dollar businesses?” I wanted to create a system and structure that allowed women to be very clear about this and their goals.
Congratulations on your 12th year of having the eWomen Network Conference! How did it originally come about?
The first conference happened just a few months after the founding of the eWomenNetwork. There were only 107 people, but now there are 2,000!
What are you seeking to achieve this year at the conference that you haven’t achieved before?
We’ve always believed it’s important to stick to the fundamentals and keep in mind the reason why we founded this network – and this year is no different. We exist to create a community and connections. While we have a strong online presence and this is very important, I firmly believe that where women make solid connections is in that face-to-face and eye-to-eye environment.
We’ve grown from being simply a networking organization to a success system. We have the richest online portal of resources from women subject matter experts that can be accessed at any time, by anyone.
I’ve heard you head another organization that’s been getting a lot of buzz. Please tell our readers more about the eNetwork Foundation .
The eNetwork Foundation started at the same time as the organization. The idea is to “give first, share always.” All of us are always repositioning, wanting more, reinventing – they say that even if you’re on the right track, you’re going to get run over if you don’t keep moving forward.
As part of the Foundation, we recognize a Humanitarian of the Year, offer grants and fundraising opportunities in each of the chapter cities. What I like to call the “bright-eyed young women” who are fresh out of college and making an effort to give back to the community receive scholarships to our conferences.
Only two percent of all women business owners ever break $1 million, so we every year recognize someone each year who has and constantly try to break that standard.
Editor’s Note: Queue the video above 1:23, to see the eWomenNetwork recognized as a CNN Hero for helping some Hurricane Katrina survivors. Please click through to the live post if you’re reading this via syndication and can’t see the video.
What is the eNetwork Success Institute? Can anyone join?
The Success Institute includes a vast amount of resources including archived video content from speakers and an email database of 500,000 and growing. It’s almost like a “curriculum of content” that is available to anyone and everyone online.
What other projects do you have coming up?
Kym and I co-authored a book called Succeeding in Spite of Every Thing which became an Amazon Best-Seller in 10 categories, and this morning we just announced that we’re releasing another called Succeeding Against All Odds. We’ve already gotten a lot of positive feedback and have heard from several women who would like to be a part of it.
What are your top suggestions for business owners striving to get to the next level?
1) Remember that you can’t make it by yourself. You need to have an A-Team, whether that’s people that you hire or connections you’ve made through networking. Our goal is to surround women with the right resources and people who can help them solve problems and overcome challenges.
2) Know what your priorities are. Be able to differentiate between an opportunity and a distraction. It’s easy to suffer from the shiny object syndrome, but we should focus on whatever makes the cash register ring so we can hire people to help us do the things we’re unable to do ourselves.
3) Be constantly leveraging and scaling your company. What you’re doing today might be great, but you also need to take a look at your consumers’ pain points and adapt to fulfill their needs, while staying on target. It’s easier to grow customers than it is to find new ones.
What’s the first step to becoming an active member of the eWomen Network?
First, go to the website. It’s very member-centric. Determine whether the language and culture resonate with you.
Then, use the managing director link to see if there’s someone in your city who you can contact to learn more. If there’s no chapter near you, you can explore how to open a chapter or, utilize our vast tools and resource base to become fully engaged in the online community.
What advice would you give to women executives and entrepreneurs in light of the recent economic climate?
There has never been a better time for business. Believe what you want to believe in the media, but you’re never going to have less competition than you do now.
Right now is the time to separate the “wantrepreneurs” from the entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs know that it it’s to be, it’s up to me.