The Financial (Fashion) Planner

Female Networking Groups in Chicago

Have I shared with you all how much I love Chicago!? I’ve been living in downtown Chicago for the past four years and continue to fall more and more in love with this city. Today, I wanted to share one of the many reasons I love Chicago.

One word. Networking.

Since moving into an advisor role at my firm last summer, I have been on the lookout for new and meaningful networking opportunities around the city. Every time I meet with a new acquaintance I always ask what networks and organization they are apart of in hopes of finding another group to get involved. Over the past few months, the answers to this question only get better and better and I wanted to put together a post to share my findings with all of you. I will start off saying this list only includes organizations or event that I have personally experienced and would recommend to anyone looking for new networking opportunities. This is far from being an all inclusive list but I had to start somewhere!

Professional Women’s Club of Chicago (PWCC)

I have been a member of PWCC for over a year and a half. The group’s name really speaks for itself and is a great organization to join for more formal and structured networking. They host monthly luncheons with incredible speakers at the Union League Club. Of their monthly luncheons, their April and December luncheons are their ever popular, sell-out progressive luncheons. In the progressive luncheon setting, attendees have the opportunity to introduce themselves to 27 different professionals throughout the three course meal.

One of my favorite aspects of PWCC is their various special interest groups (SIGs) for their members. There is a special interest group for most industries that meet on a monthly cadence independent of the monthly luncheon schedule. The purpose of these special interest groups is to exchange ideas specific to an industry or practice. In some cases, multiple SIGs will meet together to cover topics that are relevant across industries. This year, PWCC launched a new special interest group for young professionals. I am particularly excited for this group and am looking forward to their first meeting this week on the topic of career transitions.

Price: Dues – $400/yr + $40/luncheon (member) or $50/luncheon (non-members)

EvolveHer

If you’ve heard of EvolveHer you might be thinking co-working space. Yes, EvolveHer is a beautiful and unique space in the River North neighborhood that draws the attention female entrepreneurs and girl bosses but it is also so much more. Did you know that EvolveHer has a huge blackboard calendar on one of its walls full of curated networking events? So while EvolveHer started out as an inspired co-working space, over the years it has evolved into a co-working space + networking group.

So much so, that earlier this month they announced a new membership tier appropriately called “connections”. The connections membership is perfect for women who want access to EvolveHer’s multitude of networking events but don’t have a need for a co-working space on a regular basis. I personally signed up for this membership a few weeks back and can’t wait to attend their 50+ member events throughout the year.

Price: Connections Membership – $349/year / Co-working memberships starting at $99/mo.

Dames Collective

If you’ve not heard of this organization, look them up! Dames Collective got its start as a brunch networking group in San Diego and took off from there! They just opened their Chicago chapter earlier this year and plan to be in 20 cities by the end of 2020. Their rapid growth is a testament to the demand for more female centric networking groups. I personally find it inspiring that there are women across the nation stepping up to launch chapters in their cities.

The kick-off event they hosted a few weeks back drew a fantastic crowd of female business owners and entrepreneurs. I personally took away from the event incredible conversations and inspiring ideas. Dames Collective hosts one happy hour mixer each month and a monthly Morning MindFEUL event. The happy hours are your typical networking style events after work, in contrast the Morning MindFEUL events held on a Friday morning and are structured like a paneled event or discussion on various topics. The topics have been curated to support business owners and entrepreneurs and range from marketing and branding to legal. This upcoming Friday, February 21st, the Chicago chapter is hosting their first Morning MindFUEL around tax preparation featuring, yours truly 🙂

Price: $39.95/mo. – includes access to all networking events, private Facebook group and a member spotlight on their website.

Broad Shoulders

Broad Shoulders is a social club that was founded in 2018 and hosted their kick-off season last year. Tamara Edwards and Christi Turner are the group’s charismatic and energetic founders that dream up and organize their incredible events. Their vision was to create a space for professional women to come together, enhance their connections and further sharpen their professional skills while also doing good for their community. They host monthly networking events from May to October throughout the city each with a panel or discussion on a topic to promote professional growth.

Broad Shoulders is getting ready to kick off their second season this May. I personally am looking forward to their upcoming season and the opportunity to connect and engage with this of community of inspiring women.

Price: monthly events vary in pricing (typically around $30/event). A portion of ticket sales goes to support a local charity (how cool is that!).

Chicago Blogger Events

I am so just so inspired and amazed by the incredible women that make up the Chicago blogger community. The community itself is wonderfully welcoming and encouraging of each other, so much so, bloggers are venturing out on their own, or in collaboration with other bloggers, to host their own networking events. The topics range from personal branding to career transitions and draw a crowd of equally supportive and ambitious women.

There are so many great bloggers in Chicago putting on their own events. I do want to call out a few in particular that have done a wonderful job of creating a community offline.

If you aren’t already following them, you should! Be on the lookout for their upcoming events, I know a few of them have events starting in March.

Price: varies by host and event type but are typically around the $30/ticket mark.

There are so many other fantastic organizations in Chicago that I know I am missing from this round-up. My plan is to continue doing my research and join new organizations and share my findings. Would love to hear from you all some of your favorite networking groups in Chicago, perhaps we can go to an event together!

Happy Networking!