Provence-based women's networking group blossoms
Meet Rebecca Ronane, the woman behind the blossoming women's group Network Provence.
When Rebecca Ronane moved to Provence, she struggled to find a local, English-speaking networking group. Two years on, and despite having no experience, she is the driving force behind Network Provence (www.networkprovence.com), which has around 160 members, women of all ages and nationalities. Her dream is to expand to all corners of Provence, as well as gather interest to start other networking groups across France.
Ms Ronane said: “I started it to help my business, and in fact it I have changed direction, due to the people I have met through Network Provence. I find it a pleasure to do, and of benefit to many people. I’d really like it to grow.”
Network Provence has a Facebook page where members swap ideas, but more importantly there are regular meetings in five towns in the area; Maubec, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, St Rémy-de-Provence and Orange, where Ms Ronane says “many amazing connections” have been made.
She said: “For anyone who wants to come along, it is an opportunity to present their business, project, charity or blog, and to connect with other women in the area. There are some amazing people out there doing extraordinary things and it can take just one connection to change your world.”
Ms Ronane said Network Provence is not just for businesswomen, though around 70% are professionals, but also for making new friends. “I am very enthusiastic about the meetings and they have been very successful,” she said. “I think this should be happening all over France. Our common language is English but we don’t expect everybody to speak perfect English and we are not just an ex-pat group. We have French members as well.”
She keeps the atmosphere relaxed and convivial, and said her gatherings are “about collaboration rather than competition,” adding: “I have been to some networking groups where you have to be quite brave to speak out but here I want everyone to feel at ease.”
Network Provence is a women-only group and for the moment, members have voted to keep it that way. “It would change the group if men were involved. Sometimes it is good to have a place just for women to meet.”
Membership of the group costs €50 a year, or €10 for a single meeting, and Ms Ronane said the charges are to cover costs only. The Facebook group is free.
There is a meeting held in each town about once every two months, which often includes a demonstration by a member of their skills. Previous events have covered subjects as diverse as sophrology, social media, Asian fusion aperitifs, wine-tasting and the newest theatre in Avignon LE 9, which creator Hilary Lemaire allowed the Network Provence group to use as a venue.
Ms Ronane says that if anyone is interested in creating their own group or would like to be involved in Network Provence, she they can contact her on via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org