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Are you familiar with the power of roundtables?

Roundtables are informal group discussions among professional people who voluntarily serve as information and support resources for each other. Participants meet regularly and learn from each other's experiences. Over time, professional relationships develop and participants become familiar with each other's businesses. Practical support and guidance from individuals with varied backgrounds who understand the ups and downs of being a business owner and know you and your business is extremely powerful. Roundtables provide an excellent, economical way to gain fresh ideas, new perspectives, and detailed answers to even your most specific business questions.

Want to join a roundtable?

You might look into Women's Network for Entrepreneurial Training (WNET) Roundtables, which are sponsored by the Small Business Administration Office of Women's Business Ownership (SBA-OWBO). Florence Alberts, WNET Coordinator, says, "participants receive practical support and guidance from a wide range of individuals with a wealth of experience in an informal, ongoing relationship [and that is] the most effective way to build a network." WNET Roundtables stem from the SBA-OWBO's one-to-one mentoring programs, which often use groups in addition to individual mentoring.

WNET Roundtables:

  • Meet at different times and with different formats throughout the country.
  • Offer what no other networking groups do - the opportunity to build a network of government (the SBA is always represented), private sector, and community contacts.

Want to join a quasi-roundtable (i.e. forum or newsgroup) online?

Online forums are like silent roundtables in which a piece of paper is being written on and passed around to all participants. They are similar in that they are live like physical roundtables, but are unlike physical roundtables in that the group doesn't meet regularly in an ongoing manner. Newsgroups are like bulletin boards where discussions can occur and be reviewed at the participants' convenience. Newsgroups are similar in that they can be ongoing like physical roundtables, but are unlike physical roundtables in that they aren't live.