When you think of boss, entrepreneur Cameka Smith wants you to think of a woman, actually a league of women, under one umbrella and moving in the same direction toward entrepreneurial success.
The B.O.S.S. Network (Bringing Out Successful Sisters) is a national women’s networking organization created to inspire and empower professional women who have entrepreneurial spirits. Smith, a philanthropist by nature, decided B.O.S.S. was necessary, since she knew so many female entrepreneurs who did not have a network of support to bring their ideas to fruition.
“Many women of color I knew had started or were starting their own businesses, and they were looking for quality networking,” Smith says.
As for the networking scene, Smith didn’t want a party scene, or the run-of-the-mill professional networking panel where the executives are given a platform to broadcast that they’ve made it to the mountaintop, and who rarely stick around to help another sister along.
Smith endeavored to establish a networking party with a purpose, where women go-getters could meet those golden mentors who readily shared connections and access to funding sources.
And even more importantly, Smith wanted to encourage women to show up. “I noticed that all these women hosted great events, but nobody ever showed up,” Smith says. “At the end of the day, it’s about getting people there.”
Smith’s background as an administrator for the Chicago Public Schools system helped her recognize the value of developing alliances. As an entrepreneur, Smith founded the events marketing and promotional company, City Global Events, a five-year-old venture that further cultivated connections with all the right people.
In June of 2009, The B.O.S.S. Network launched. Smith’s business model is traditional in its nature, with a new school marketing element at its core. “Social media has given [us] a platform to be heard,” Smith explains. “If Twitter, Facebook, etc., did not exist I don’t believe I would have the success I have so soon.”
Success, indeed. Barely two years old, the organization has partnered with heavyweight organizations such as Susan G. Komen, and has been recognized by Forbes as one of the “Top 10 Career Sites for Women.”
On April 27, The B.O.S.S Network’s Inspired by Influencers Series will honor top women in business and raise funds for AIDS awareness.