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Women With Brilliance networking group growing rapidly

COURTESY OF WOMEN WITH BRILLANCE - Robin Posen, owner of the Beaverton-based Think Pink, a flamingo flocking services, chats with Linda Burden-Williams during a morning meeting of Women With Brilliance.When Nina Roberts, founder of Women With Brilliance, started her business and networking organization less than six months ago, she was hoping 15 women might show up for the inaugural meeting.

To her amazement, 40 women turned up for the organization’s first gathering at Max's Fanno Creek Brew Pub in Tigard.

“That was just shocking to me,” said Roberts.

Now, anywhere from 30 to 50 women regularly attend the twice-monthly events held at the Mountain Park Center in Lake Oswego: Networking á Latte, a breakfast meeting held on the second Thursday of each month, and Evening Brilliance, held in the evening on the fourth Tuesday of the month. (The latter includes wine and is a bit more elegant, Roberts says.)

“I really want to show these ladies you can come up with an idea and create a profitable business,” she said, noting that her own organization — which has been around for less than half a year — is a prime example.

A Tigard resident for the last five years, Roberts said Women With Brilliance is the only networking group of its kind in the Portland metro area that’s exclusively for women.

“I just felt I was craving something in Portland and I couldn’t find it,” said Roberts, a business coach by trade who has spent 20 years in marketing and branding. “People are really enjoying it, loving it.”

Kelly McCauley, who lives in the Dunthorpe area near Lake Oswego, said she was sold on Women With Brilliance from the get-go.

“I was one of her first members,” said McCauley, who owns Party Host Helpers, a professional staffing company that allows hosts to sit back and enjoy their own parties. “I came to the second meeting and bought in right away.”

A former Philadelphia native, McCauley said she was looking for a professional women’s networking group that challenges women and takes them to the next level.

“I knew Nina was the person who was going to do that,” she said. “I’ve been to lots of Northwest groups and this is by far what I was looking for.”

COURTESY OF WOMEN WITH BRILLANCE - Nina Roberts is founder of Women With Brilliance, a networking group exclusively for women. Since it began six months ago, the organization attracts anywhere from 30 to 50 women at each meeting.She said she believes women genuinely want to support and help each other, calling those women already in Women With Brilliance the “movers and shakers” of the community.

McCauley said she is constantly learning new things and likes the fact that Roberts is so welcoming. She is also on the organization’s leadership team, which Roberts started for some of the women in the group.

“I’ll be a lifelong member because I know this group will help build my business,” said McCauley.

Roberts said one of the things she stresses in the paid membership group is to “work smarter, not harder.” At a recent Networking á Latte meeting, the variety of women attending included everyone from a Eugene actress who owns an acting school to a Beaverton businesswoman who runs a “flamingo flocking” business.

“As a coach, I love meeting and empowering women,” said Roberts. “I want people to grow personally and professionally.”

Roberts noted that many women waste too much time on coffee dates, which often take time away from their businesses. Roberts personally invites guests who are non-members to try out the organization and they can attend twice before deciding whether to join the group.

Meetings include open networking sessions as well as women telling their business stories to other women.

Robin Posen, who owns Think Pink, which decorates front yards with arrays of pink plastic flamingos for special occasions, was attending her second Women With Brilliance meeting recently and said she planned to join the organization.

“Women get women,” said Posen, a Beaverton resident who has owned her business for more than five years and has “flockers” spread out from Vancouver, Wash., to Bend. “These are classy, friendly women and sometimes that’s hard to find.”

She said she feels extremely welcome with Roberts in charge.

Likewise, Cynthia Warmenhoven, who also was attending her second meeting, said she planned on joining the group as well.

“I like the organization, just the way the meetings are carried out,” said Warmenhoven, who owns Massage Envy business franchises in both Lake Oswego and John’s Landing.

She said there’s a lot of information presented in a short period of time.

Warmenhoven, who also is owner of several Garage Sale Warehouse locations in Beaverton, said what has impressed her too is the fact that Roberts’ group is made up of like-minded businesswomen looking for business ideas. While she has looked at other networking groups, she likes Women With Brilliance better.

“It doesn’t seem like a waste of time,” she said. “People are interested in sharing business ideas.”

Jorji Jett, who owns a Choices for All franchise, which distributes health and nutritional products, said she admires Roberts for taking organic networking to a new level, and living the things she talks about.

“And we have fun,” said Jett, a Tigard resident for the last 15 years. She enjoys it too because she has found the women in the networking group to be authentic and like-minded.

“I think women are natural networkers,” said Jett. “It’s fun to build alliances so you can do things together.”

Nancy Tasker, who has worked for PartyLite (which sells candles and other home fragrances) for the last 15 years, originally met Roberts years ago then met her again at another event.

“When she decided to form Women With Brilliance, I was very excited and I was one of the first members,” she said. “I really love the group. It’s given me tremendous business.”

“And of course, I love Nina’s energy,” said Tasker, who lives in unincorporated Washington County but has a Tigard zip code.

Meanwhile, Roberts credits much of her success to both Facebook marketing of the group and networking relationships.

Roberts said she plans to expand her offerings soon to include “mastermind” workshops, sessions where women gather and discuss their business challenges, receiving feedback on how to face those challenges.

Ultimately, Roberts would like Women With Brilliance grow even larger.

“For the future ... I’d love to have 80 to 100 members and attendees,” she said.