top of page

The Revival of In-Person Networking

Professional women's associations: out of the Zoom box and back into the real world  

How much of your daily activity is still done remotely? Probably quite a bit. How about professional business networking? I bet you're discovering, like I am, that it's much more fun and effective to talk with people in person instead of just by Zoom.

Like so many others after the imposed isolation of the pandemic, I just want to be around other people. It’s not that I don’t love working remotely. I’ve been doing so for years, but it needs to be balanced with human interaction. Professional networking groups hit that sweet spot. And it’s so nice when we can continue a conversation later over coffee or, locally, on a walk around Atlanta’s Beltline.

Networking for fun and profit

Yeah, it really IS all about building authentic relationships.


Competition to Collaboration ... Finally

My networking for years included both men and women. I've always liked running with the boys, and in my early tech years, that's pretty much what it was. There just weren't as many women in my branch of IT, and frankly, I found too many women regarding each other as competitors than as collaborators.

Much of that changed when our collective professional lives shifted to include parenting responsibilities. There's common ground when women are trying to balance careers with motherhood, not to mention all the time behind the wheel as "mom taxis."

Now as an empty-nester, there's been another shift. So many friends and associates at the same stage of life have moved on: into retirement, with different interests, or off to different parts of the country. And sadly, some are preoccupied with health issues or have passed on. It's time to widen the social and professional circles and meet other like-minded women. Local professional women’s groups hold a special appeal.

You Get More When You Give

To that end, I recently joined two local professional women’s networking organizations. One’s focused on women-owned small businesses. The other is the local chapter of a national association that actually fought – and won – the right for women to have credit cards in their own names. Think that’s a story from the 1950s? I thought so, too, but it actually dates back to 1974.

Before Covid and the explosion of Zoom-based networking options, there were more professional associations than one could possibly join. Only the stronger ones made it through, and now the ones that did are working hard to rebuild their memberships to pre-pandemic levels.  


PROWIN is one of the survivors. It’s been around for over 20 years and serves women-owned, women-run small businesses in the Atlanta area. Ironically, I was introduced to it via a virtual networking platform. The Grand Connection hosts small breakout groups for just about every type of event, and that’s where I met Lori Lyons, who (as it turned out) was the PROWIN president. Lori and I were delighted to find that we live near one another, and so we made plans to meet in person. To make a long story short, she invited me to one PROWIN luncheon, I ended up attending all of the scheduled speaker luncheons in 2023, and before I knew it, found myself on the board for 2024. Yup. Lori is an excellent recruiter.


It’s true what they say: the best way to meet and network with as many people as possible is to get involved. My new role is finding great speakers and planning pinnacle events, both of which give me plenty of visible opportunities in front of our members and guests. As an actor, I rather like that. (No surprise there.) I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many interesting, talented entrepreneurs. Many came from the corporate world like me to start their own businesses, while others have been creative freelancers throughout their careers. We run the gamut from finance, real estate, and law to … well, me! … as an actor and on-camera coach. I’m a bit of an anomaly, so my work is a natural ice-breaker. Bonus: there’s a lot of interest in seeing my performances, especially timely now when my latest film is playing on Amazon Prime. A nice bit of marketing of myself for corporate events, both live and recorded, as a host, voice over artist, and coach to help business folks getting better on camera themselves.


The secret of successful networking lies in how you can help someone else.

A Healthy Balance to Networking

No argument here – I think most of us know that it's healthy to have balance in our lives between work and family and to take care of all aspects of ourselves. I’ve found that in person networking has done much to nurture my soul. I’m inherently an introvert – I cherish and NEED my alone time – but only to a point. That social side needs attention, too!

I also value a balance between my business and creative activities. PROWIN and the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), the second women’s group I joined, provide a professional balance with the artistic circles I move around in. Totally different types of people, but all thoroughly enjoyed. On one hand, I have my networking opportunities through corporate and professional connections. On the other, I share creative ideas with other film, TV, and voice actors, as well as those who power the industry: producers, directors, casting directors, agents, and everyone in the crew who staffs a production. Add in personal friends and family and it makes for a nice balance.


As a mom, I’ve been advising my young adult children – as much as they’re actually listening! – that the secret of successful networking lies in how you can help someone else, not in a “what’s in it for me” mentality. We intrinsically feel good when we help other people. I find it very rewarding to introduce people with common backgrounds, interests, work situations, etc., whether for personal or professional reasons. Many of them appreciate the introductions and like to reciprocate in kind. Quite a few friendships have begun this way, too. And as a side benefit, we develop invaluable reputations as kind, thoughtful, helpful people ourselves – and, hey, who wouldn’t want to do business with someone like that? A win-win.


One last word: in person networking goes beyond just “friending” or connecting with someone on social media. While we often connect online, too, and some online friends have become real friends in person (like when we meet at conferences), there’s another dimension when we go 3D and get to know and do things face to face. So welcome back, in person networking! I’ve missed ya.

Laura's Quick Tips

  1. Each new stage of life can shift our networks - and our priorities - but bring new people into our lives.

  2. Be an active contributor. Greater involvement often means greater visibility and influence.

  3. Figure out the balance you need to stay happy, healthy ... and sane. We can only do so much!

Looking to do a bit more networking yourself? Sometimes working with a good business coach is the right starting point to figuring out which types of organizations are best for you. If you'd like to know what to look for in a business coach, check out this article >

Laura Doman smiling

I'm Laura Doman, a former tech industry sales executive, hands-on mom, voice & TV/film actress, and improv performer. I create memorable characters that tell my client's stories, from the friendly CEO touting new upgrades to your sassy best gal pal dispensing some necessary, real-world advice...Let's Talk!


Laura Doman logo