A couple dozen ladies, chatting and laughing over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Add some name tags and a spectacular view of the city, and that’s what you’d expect at a Maine Women’s Network open networking event, held the third Thursday of each month at Top of the East on the top floor of The Westin Portland Harborview.

“When we asked members why they love this group, it’s because it’s eclectic,” said board member Abbie McGilvery, a marketing and social media strategist of From the Nest. “It’s not all business women like it used to be. We’ve got artists, entrepreneurs and women into beauty and health and wellness.”

“I work with men all day, so this is a nice break,” said Giovanna Patrizio, an engineer with Lanco Integrated Systems.

Each month, Maine Women’s Network offers a breakfast program the first Friday, a lunch program the second Tuesday and open networking the third Thursday, with about 30 women schmoozing at Top of the East. Registration for open networking is free for members and $10 for non-members.

“A lot of the women who are here tonight are new, and they’re all interacting,” said Mackenzie Arsenault, who chairs the Portland chapter. “It’s so open. There’s no structure.”

“I made so many good connections,” said first-timer Vanessa Golden of Beauty Mark, clinical skincare provider. “Portland is full of vibrant women all trying to work in authentic, real ways.”

Networking can be especially crucial for the self-employed, like Eileen Whynot of Integrated Marketing and Public Relations. “You always have to be out there,” she said. “You never know who you’re going to meet and what it might lead to. And it’s less intimidating when it’s all women.”

“Sometimes I find clients, and sometimes I find partners in crime,” said Ginger Soul of Ginger Soul Photography.

Maine Women’s Network is a statewide organization with three regional chapters: Portland, midcoast and Androscoggin. The next Portland event is an April 6 breakfast at Portland Country Club in Falmouth with a presentation on creating video content for social media. For more information: mainewomensnetwork.com.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]