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March 8, 2022 | Alysia Vetter

ASCII Women’s Network an Outlet for Empowerment

Since its launch in 2021, the women-only network reimagines a supportive environment focused on business growth and operational excellence.

In 2022, an ever-growing number of women own and operate MSP businesses. And while there are a variety of organizations and committees that women can join for personal and professional growth, The ASCII Group’s women-only network differentiates by creating a supportive space for female leaders in IT to share smart business practices and growth strategies with peers who have similar experiences and challenges in the industry.

Seeing a need within our community for a network concentrating on female members, a segment that has been traditionally under-represented and overlooked, The ASCII Group created the ASCII Women’s Network in 2021 for business owners, directors, and employees of MSPs. Although all members work in the IT space, conversations do not focus on technology exclusively. The goal of the network, which meets quarterly, is to help members overcome business obstacles while uncovering new tactics and strategies for operational success.

Rather than focus on traditional female-centric topics such as work-life balance or overcoming imposter syndrome, the ASCII Women’s Network explores critical business issues such as setting boundaries in a work-from-home world, why employers need to be concerned about mental health, how to handle difficult conversations with staff, successful hiring practices, creating employee handbooks, and more.

A recent discussion of different work styles across the generations—Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennials—highlighted advice on managing demographic differences while bringing employees together around a company’s collective mission and goals.

The purpose of the ASCII Women’s Network is to not only advance business growth, but also expand the personal relationships of the members in a comfortable setting that encourages outside-the-box thinking. Business conversations happen every day throughout various outlets at The ASCII Group, including monthly member meetings, the ASCII-Link member forum, subcontracting desk, MSP Success Summits, and more. The space created for the Women’s Network wasn’t meant to be a barricade to men—but rather a reimagining of what typical business networking looked like.

“One of the advantages of connecting with women in the IT community includes gaining a new and often different perspective on how to solve problems, either a technical or business issue,” says Kim Nielsen, president and chief technology strategist at Computer Technologies, and an ASCII Group member since 1999. “The ASCII Women’s Network is the first group of its kind that I’ve seen in my over 30 years in the industry … and it is filling a gap that greatly needed to be filled.”

Trust is a key factor in any group setting, and creating an environment of bringing women together in an authentic way was extremely important, which is why Dawn Sizer, CEO and owner of 3rd Element Consulting, was the ideal choice to facilitate the meetings.

“It’s incredible to see a group of professionals come together and help solve issues we all struggle with,” says Sizer, who is an active ASCII member and popular business podcast host. “Each woman brings a different perspective on how their MSP or business deals with each process, procedure, and their staff, from recruiting and onboarding to termination. All of us have learned from each other, and we are just getting started.”

In addition to the quarterly meetings, the ASCII Women’s Network has its own private room in the member-only ASCII-Link forum. Following gatherings, information is regularly shared in this space including book recommendations, business referrals, and marketing tips.

The vision of the ASCII Women’s Network is for all levels of members to share their journey and lessons learned along the way. The network is acting as an outlet for female ASCII members to gather, feel empowered, and gain insight.

ALYSIA VETTER is vice president of marketing for The ASCII Group, the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs, and solution providers. Founded in 1984, ASCII offers members leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction, and more.

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