Digital Women - No Computer Game
by Barbara A. Killmeyer, Freelance Writer
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Women entrepreneurs belong to one of the fastest growing segments of the business world and are quick to recognize the opportunities available through the internet. A great number of these women have put their businesses "on the line" by going online. For some, owning a business is a first-time venture and they have found that enthusiasm is wonderful but doesn't answer the myriad problems that confront them in the day-to-day running of a company; questions about everything from taxes to office supplies and customer relations.

Help has arrived in the form of an online networking community, Digital Women, founded by Rebecca Game. Game created what she describes as, "Women sharing ideas and offering insightful tips to help you succeed. Sharing their own mistakes to save you the trouble of making the same." Since this networking community focuses on an exchange of ideas to better the business, no blatant advertising is permitted.

Game refers to the members as "Women with Their Modems Running..." And says," Nothing could have been more rewarding than building an online network community. By promoting other women in business, as I did, you can gain a sense of belonging to a larger order. In unity, there is no greater strength."

Caroline Shaw of Ambridge agrees wholeheartedly. Shaw said, "I knew nothing about marketing or public relations before Digital Women. I've learned so much by joining in the discussions in the forum. Not only have I discovered how others solve business problems, but I've had some fun and met some fantastic people."

Shaw explains that joining the group provides not only a pool of resources and business savvy, but also a safe haven where one can ask the "dumb" questions and not feel idiotic. She said, "Picture a group of women running hand-in-hand to the finish line, but stopping to help those who fall along the way."

Since beginning in March of 1998 Digital Women has shown phenomenal growth and now boasts a total membership of 2,100 that includes the online directory, newsletter and mail list.

The businesses represented are as varied as the number of members. A sampling of offerings are: a collection agent, a place for ex-wives to find out about their legal rights, an online magazine offering support to mothers, and temporary office help.

Laura Franklin of Kittanning said, "The benefits have been great to me, both personally and professionally. The knowledge I've gained has been enormous. I have yet to see a question asked that someone couldn't answer. My own business has increased dramatically, with a lot of new customers coming from the group itself."

Although actual advertising is not allowed each member knows what type of business the others run and patronizing other members is a natural tendency. Franklin says that she has made some very close women friends online and is amazed at the strength of these women working together as a team to help each other succeed.

Some Digital Women are seasoned business people while others are entering entrepreneurship for the first time. Experienced or not, sharing is the key to women helping women to achieve success. But Digital Women is more.

Bernadette DeMao of Rose Valley, Armstrong County, explains why she is such a strong advocate of the organization. "I have gained a mountain of knowledge in a very short period of time that I utilize every day in my business, and because of the friendships formed within the group, I also have people to share my daily trials and tribulations with. She (Game) leads us democratically and gently, encouraging us to laugh, cry, and learn so that each success of a Digital Woman belongs to us all, as well as our failures."

Membership in Digital Women is open to all women who run a business online. The website can be reached at www.digital-women.com and contains a form to be completed by potential members.

As a result of the bond of friendship formed through the network community those members who live in the Pittsburgh area will be getting together for the first Pennsylvania Digital Women Lunch to meet in person. This meeting will be at the Lone Star Restaurant on Route 19 in Cranberry Township at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, August 16. Plans are being discussed for regular meetings for social purposes and as an extension of the networking community.

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