Most people’s idea of networking events is of tedious conferences and long, dry meetings. But Abu Dhabi’s newest networking group, Business In Heels, is looking to change that.
Business In Heels is a women’s networking group that was founded in Sydney, Australia, in January 2013. The organisation has expanded to nearly 30 countries around the world, with the UAE’s Abu Dhabi branch launching this past February. Branch director Natalie Arancio says ‘We have a presence in Australia, USA, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and now the UAE.’
Business in Heels was founded by CEO Jac Bowie after she experienced an emotional life upheaval, including a divorce and an outstanding company debt. The concept is about making networking fun, with the right people in the right scenario. It’s named after the book Jac began to write, and has yet to finish.
Natalie says, ‘It has grown rapidly within the first year of operation, with events being held at almost 30 branches around the world. Not only is it a great platform for women to network locally, it is also wonderful
as we are able to establish links with women internationally, which is extremely beneficial when we travel for business or pleasure, and especially when we are looking to relocate or repatriate.’
Natalie explains how Business in Heels is an innovative take on networking: ‘Our events are different in that they are not highly structured, nor are there long, boring speeches, name tags or convention-centre locations. Our events are usually two hours of pure networking in a fun, social and chic setting. Ladies receive a goody bag, a drink and some yummy canapés on arrival.’
It’s about having fun and keeping it simple and sociable. Natalie explains, ‘If we do host a speaker then she would speak on a relevant issue or topic for no more than five to ten minutes to inspire and motivate the ladies. We are currently speaking with an Italian image consultant who may feature at one of our upcoming events and provide ladies with some tips about the power of image.’
Member and participant Hannah Dowd found the group through a friend, attended the soft launch, and hasn’t looked back. She says, ‘A few months ago, a friend of mine had suggested that I like the page on Facebook. I loved the pictures they put up, so I joined the group. I just had a feeling that there would be some great women behind the group, and that being a member would open me up to meeting some wonderful women in Abu Dhabi – which it most definitely did!’
Business In Heels in Abu Dhabi recently held its soft launch at the St Regis Abu Dhabi, which was a great success, and the initiative is looking to hold another event at the end of March. Hannah says, ‘Everyone was very friendly. All of the women I interacted with had brilliant personalities. Some women had been residents of Abu Dhabi for many years; some were fresh off the plane. But the best thing was that everyone was open to engaging with each other, which was great.’
Natalie explains, ‘Business In Heels is able to offer ladies who are part of our network opportunities to engage with women at a local and international level. This is beneficial for our international women of the UAE. Business in Heels is supportive of entrepreneurs and those women who are always seeking to better themselves and meet new people.’
She says it’s a fun and worthwhile experience: ‘If you are an ambitious, positive and inspiriting professional or entrepreneur who is eager to be a part of a chic, fun social network, then Business in Heels is for you.’
Member Hannah couldn’t agree more: ‘Do it. There’s no need to consider it at all. You will meet women of all statuses and positions – some may become work contacts and others coffee contacts, but either way there is something to gain here.’
Keep an eye out for the next event, says Natalie. ‘We are in the process of arranging our second Abu Dhabi event, so stay tuned via social media for the details.’
The group is free to join, with charges of Dhs125 per event. www.businessinheels.com.