By Jay Kernis
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said, “There is a special place in Hell for women who don’t help other women.”
If Albright is correct, then Pamela Ryckman has found a lot of women who are likely to be moved to the front of the line when the time comes to enter Heaven. That’s because they’ve made the commitment to invest time and money in other women, and this is happening as women network with each other in dining rooms and restaurants across the country.
According to Ryckman, author of the new book, “Stiletto Network,” the conversations at these women’s power circles—some with such ironic names as Chicks in Charge, Babes in Boyland and SLUTS: Successful Ladies Under Tremendous Stress--have led to new jobs, seats on corporate boards, the creation of new companies, and multi-million dollar transactions.
Ryckman says the process works because “women are using the same skills that women have always used throughout history. It’s collaboration. It’s ‘I’ll pick up the kids Monday if you do it Thursday.’ It’s trust and empathy.” She adds, “It’s this incredible support group, and you don’t have to be a CEO, and you don’t have to be wealthy” to participate.
Janet Hanson is one of the founding mothers of the women’s networking movement, having created the group 85 Broads in 1997. She named the power circle after the New York City address of Goldman-Sachs, the investment banking firm where she worked for many years.
Hanson says it’s not easy for women to ask each other for money—she used the word “brutal” to describe it. But she says, “I think you practice networking with other women, then you can transfer that confidence to any situation. But first you have to have that confidence.”
Ryckman explains that the gatherings are not all about money and investing. She says, “Sometimes it’s about bringing expertise to the table. Sometimes it’s about making the right introduction. But it’s whatever you need to get to the next level.”
Editor's Note: Kate Snow's full report airs Friday, May 24 at 10pm/9CDT on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.