Photo by Toshi Tasaki
Unlike members of other business groups in Westchester, the 400 women who make up Professional Women of Westchester, Putnam, and Connecticut, res- pectively, are not out lobbying government or looking to solve Westchester’s convoluted tax structure. The group instead comes together to learn from one another and to network. It’s the brainchild of 35-year-old founder Jamie Imperati, a former marketing professional and current owner of whatandwhen4kids.com, an online event calendar that caters to local moms.
Imperati believes that good leaders set a tone that carries through an entire organization. Hers is a tone of geniality. “It’s like being in a room full of girlfriends that you haven’t seen in years—it’s not catty and it’s not cliquey,” says Imperati.
Lisa Kaslyn, Professional Women board member and principal at Prosper Communications, says, “Many women in a co-ed networking environment can be a bit intimidated or inhibited.” Imperati is on hand to eliminate that potential roadblock. It’s one thing to start a networking organization, but she “knocked it out of the park by getting professionals together in a way that hasn’t been done before in Westchester,” Kaslyn says. That means creating a place where women not only help each other work toward financial success, but where, according to Susan Kleiman, owner of Ross Daniel Adaptive Apparel Inc. in Bedford, they benefit from what women in business really want: education, a listening ear, advice, and, most importantly, confidence.
“What this group has really brought me is confidence,” Kleiman says. “Confidence to be able to speak publicly.”
Imperati says that her success is driven by the success of the women she serves, so she hosts networking events, business luncheons, a slew of educational seminars, and “mash-ups” where she brings together, for example, women from Putnam and Westchester. “It’s a great place to meet other successful women and learn and support each other through the whole process of good, bad, and struggling,” Kleiman says.
Imperati tries to give her members “the opportunities to grow their business in ways that they hadn’t thought of.” She, for instance, introduced Kleiman to her present-day marketing team, which consists of Kaslyn and another Professional Women member, Jann Mirchandani, owner of Marketing Cafe, a web design and development company. The two put together a website for Kleiman that was recently given the Bronze Award for best website by the Advertising Club of Westchester. The examples of networking success are many. “I’ve had customers, referrals, people added to my mailing list,” says Mary Prenon, owner of Le Petite Spa in Croton, who adds that Imperati introduced her to scores of businesswomen with expertise, advice, and connections.
“I have the ability to listen, to see three-sixty and hear a deeper version of what someone’s asking me for,” says Imperati. Whether her membership needs social media experts, web experts, or marketing pros, she’s hosting them all. Imperati’s logic is this: “I don’t care if you’re in business five months or twenty-five years, there’s always something to learn.”