By Kathy Schneider, Executive Director for Channel Marketing & Programs at Dell for Europe

Support networks provide a perfect opportunity for women to interact with likeminded people, share ideas and gain inspiration from other women to succeed and grow their businesses.

Empowering women and their businesses is something close to our hearts at Dell and was the motivation behind the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) - a network and annual conference that helps bring female business owners together, share best practices and open up new business opportunities around the world. DWEN 2012 is taking place in New Delhi, India, an exciting location that is buzzing with economic growth and creative inspiration.

To network with businesswomen local to you it’s a great idea to investigate regional groups such as Exeter’s Business Support Network. For UK-wide events and useful resources aimed at women entrepreneurs, visit these great platforms:

Everywoman: a channel for female entrepreneurs to interact, share ideas and gain inspiration. Organises UK events and awards for women in business

Lady Geek: offers one-day workshops helping you define your strategy for selling to women

The Next Women: an award-winning online women’s business magazine and networking forum with a focus on startups and growing businesses led, founded or invested in by women

Women Unlimited: a community aiming to help women who are thinking about starting their own business and want to engage with other women doing it already

Women in Technology: regularly hosts networking events, personal development and career-orientated training courses for women in the UK’s technology industry

Social media provides a unique means of connecting with like-minded women beyond the realm of events and getting answers to your business challenge within minutes. What’s more, tracking Twitter hashtags such as #Changetheratio and #DWEN allows you to take part in conversations and dedicated ‘Tweet chats’ about the issues affecting women in business. LinkedIn groups such as Dell’s Women Powering Business Network enable women in business to connect, share events and seek advice on any business-related topic.

What makes networking so beneficial for entrepreneurs is that you often get even more out of it than you anticipate. Discovering a new event and connecting with likeminded women can inspire your next great business plan while exchanging ideas can help you establish valuable new contacts and forge new business opportunities.