Stiletto Networks: These Clubs Are Blazing the Business World

Jacqui Kenyon

stiletto networksFor many of us, the word “networking” conjures images of people milling around a conference hall wearing a name tag, making small talk and exchanging business cards.

But a new kind of networking is on the rise —and female executives are at the helm.

They’re known as “stiletto networks,” and the women behind them have been known to ink multimillion-dollar business deals.

We sat down with Pamela Ryckman, an investment-strategist-turned-journalist and the author of “Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business,” to get her insider’s take on the phenomenon.

LearnVest: How did you come across this trend?

Pamela Ryckman: It started a few years ago when I attended a women’s conference in California while working on a piece for The New York Times. I walked into a room of very successful women in beautiful dresses and cute shoes who defied the age-old stereotypes of high-powered ladies. They weren’t in pinstripe suit—they weren’t trying to dress, sound and act like guys.

I wanted to know what enabled all of these women to succeed professionally—and remain comfortable in their own skin. When one of them mentioned her dinner group, I asked who the guests were, and she listed several high-level female executives from companies like eBay, Amazon, Verisign and Marimba. They called themselves “Babes in Boyland.”

I knew that I was onto something, but I didn’t quite know what it was. I’d soon find that all of these groups—stretching from New York City to Anchorage, Alaska—form a powerful nationwide movement.

And what makes these groups unique is the intimacy involved. The women often meet at one of their homes over dinner and wine. And beyond discussing business, they also talk about their fears and their families—and even throw wedding and baby showers for one another.