Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - January 8, 2010

Girls night out with a purpose

Women in the Tri-Valley hit the town in the name of networking

By Emily West

A glass of wine and gabbing with the girls could help grow business. At least, that's what Frances Hewitt is finding to be true for many women in the Tri-Valley.

In June 2008, Hewitt was looking for a new way to network. While she appreciated the more formal meetings typically held weekly and in the mornings, she was craving something more lighthearted and fun.

So she and about 15 friends met up for drinks and a bite to eat at Eddie Papa's in Pleasanton to form a new women-only networking group. Calling themselves Girls Night Out Networking -- or GNON for short -- the group has since grown to include more than 200 members, with 50 to 60 women meeting monthly at various locations in the Tri-Valley.

While not intending to necessarily replace more formal networking groups, the idea is to combine a night out with friends and the benefits of networking. This, Hewitt says, takes place without an agenda. Instead, people gather after work (on a Wednesday or Thursday night) and the only thing planned is introductions around 6:15 p.m. Attendees can come and go as they please.

GNON appears to be thriving, particularly in an economy where many are looking for work or more clients and wanting to do business in their hometown. To join, there are only three requirements: members must be female, want to meet friends and like to have fun.

Hewitt, an account executive at Pleasanton-based Allegra Print and Imaging, credits the informal and fun settings to fostering relationships that often lead to growing businesses.

"I carry around a special Rolodex with me of GNON members," she said. "Whenever I hear someone say they need a service or product, I go there first."

Members, or GNONers, range from being business owners to a stay-at-home mom, some who may be looking for full- or part-time work.

Hewitt said some women with resumes in hand "working the room" have found job leads and offers.

"It's a really diverse group," she added. "We've got everything from a funeral director to a massage therapist to doggie daycare."

Even if a networking connection isn't initially apparent, the GNONers will most often remark about the camaraderie found through the monthly mixers. Hewitt said she's heard some hesitation from prospective members because they don't know anyone, but said people are often surprised to see familiar faces and that meeting new people is the name of the game.

As the group grows into its second year, something Hewitt never imagined at the GNON's first meeting, they have had to make certain changes. Now that the monthly meetings are so large, they now meet at the businesses of GNONers, instead of making a small reservation at a local restaurant or winery. Hewitt said she is also planning to have a $50 annual membership fee to help cover overhead costs. With the membership, she plans to include advertising in the GNON Gazette newsletter, the ability to host a mixer and access to members.

For those interested in learning more about the networking group should contact Hewitt at 487-4748 or

Check out GNON

Who: Women interested in networking

What: An informal night out

When: after work Jan. 27 (introductions at 6:15 p.m.)

Where: Hairlights Salon, 4307 Valley Ave., Ste. F

Details: Bring your own beverage and $5 for appetizers. Visit for more information.


Posted by Janet L. Beery, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jan 8, 2010 at 10:49 am

As one of the original members of GNON, I have witnessed the countless business and personal relationships that have transpired through GNON. Frances Hewitt has been very successful in creating this dynamic group by sharing her own enthusiasm, sense of humor and a genuine desire to help others to succeed. You can hear the phrase from the first timers attending GNON, "This has been an awesome group of women, very exciting!" It's nice to hear it over and over again. See you at GNON.............

Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 9, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Ahh...move over "good ole boys" club, the "good ole girls" club is taking over.

Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Jan 10, 2010 at 7:17 am informal, fun group to socialize with. Thanks Frances for getting this started!

Posted by Gary Stagner, a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 17, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Hey! Wait a minute!
Where women gather men are sure to follow. Smiles..
Good luck!

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