TODAY

TODAY   |  May 17, 2013

Stiletto Networks help women build careers

Girl power groups known as Stiletto Networking Groups are popping up all over the country, as women help women build their careers by hosting lunches, dinner parties and more. NBC’s Savannah Guthrie reports.

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>>> if you're a woman looking to get ahead in the business world where do you begin? well maybe you should start a stiletto networking group. take a look. they do lunch at fancy restaurants, host dinner parties at home, and they've even been known to play poker after putting the kids to bed. they call themselves the harpies, babes in boyland, even chicks in charge. no, they're not the latest trend in reality tv , rather they are the new girls clubs in town.

>> this really is a community, a community means that you can call upon those women at any time, any place, anywhere.

>> in 1997 janet hanson created one of the first of these power groups, 85 broads, named after 85 broad street , the former new york address of goldman sachs , where hanson spent most of her career.

>> it's not just about providing money. it's all the buzz and all the clapping and cheering for these amazing women and that's really what we spend most of our time doing.

>> reporter: groups are popping up all over the country, from atlanta to anchorage, from manhattan to hollywood, successful women banding together creating power circles that share a common mission.

>> the women have given each other courage and allowed each other to be the best version of themselves.

>> reporter: author pamela reisman named these clusters the stiletto network after she found a common thread while researching her new book.

>> it's groups of friends saying you can do it, whatever it is you want to do, fixing a school, bettering your community, rallying behind a candidate or starting a company and you don't have to be a ceo and you don't have to be wealthy.

>> reporter: women from their 20s to their 70s networking with each other on their own terms. and pamela is with us now her book is called "stiletto

network: inside the power circles changing the face of business."

>> heidi and shawna of ahalife.com. i guess you sort of have, when you were at a women 's conference you found a group of powerful women , they were doing dinner together. what happens at these meetings?

>> these women talk about everything from their families to their dreams, businesses to their hopes and fears because they're rooted in true friendship. they say get out of that job, we'll find a new one or leave that company, you know you can do it.

>> the stereotype of women backstabbing each other to get ahead and that's not the case if it ever was.

>> backstabbing occurred because there was room for only one woman at the top but there's enough for women to succeed and they're launching companies learning it's easier and fun to do this together than apart.

>> heidi you had a wonderful business you sold for a lot of money and you're hosting poker nights. what do you get out of this?

>> poker night is interesting because everyone thinks the hardest thing about starting a business is raising money and i'm not going to belittle that because it is hard but what is hard is the day after so things like poker help to teach great business skills like strategy, dealing the best of the hand you're dealt, bluffing. it's incredibly fun a great way to network.

>> great metaphor. shawna you started ahalife.com. what has your experience been?

>> the first time i came one the idea the first person i called was janet hanson from 85 brods. she decided to invest in the company, i moved back to the u.s. and she told her friends about it and i ended up raising over $1 million from her stiletto network and her group of friends. it was amazing.

>> we talk about in the big cities , new york, chicago, l.a., but this can happen in other communities where smart women want to get together.

>> there are no rules. it's grabbing your friends and saying what do you need and how can i help.

>> love that, pamela , heidi and