Women helping women: Group’s business model is ‘give first, share always’
It’s like having a fairy godmother … or a roomful of ’em. A newbie is greeted at a luncheon by a core group of women — and maybe a “few good men” — all who wish to help you achieve your entrepreneurial dreams. And the five magic words you’ll hear?
“How may I help you?” says Juliann Kelley, executive managing director of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of eWomenNetwork, a networking organization of women helping women succeed in business. “It’s based upon the premise of ‘give first, share always.’”
It’s a decidedly feminine approach to doing business, Kelley says, one that’s also expected from those entering the fold. “You come in with the attitude of what can you do for others, not just what they can do for you. If you come with a giving attitude, you receive a lot in abundance.”
Kelley joined the organization six years ago to help promote her furry, novelty purses known as B-BOK Bags, The Juliann Diva Collection. “This giving attitude was right up my alley,” she says. “I saw women coming together and helping each other. When you network, usually people try to sell you something. In this atmosphere, you come here and get to know me and when you get to know me, you trust me. You’re building relationships.”
A focus on relationship building is the way women prefer to conduct business, she adds.
“Women try to keep emotion out of business but can’t always. If I know, like and trust you, I’ll tell everybody. Men, they might use a roofer Charlie who’s reasonable and tell Bruce what he can do and give a good quote. Women will ask if he’s married, how long he’s been in the business, ask for references, call and find out, ask if Mary used him. That’s the difference.”
New members participate in two Accelerated Networking luncheons, where they connect with a group of women who ask “What are you looking for?” and “How can we help you in the next 30 days?”
Members also learn how to ask for what they need in a specific way, Kelley says. “Don’t ask for clients or time or money, we all need those things. Be more specific.”
Devon Plumberg, owner of The Divine Coach, and Ginger Stiver, owner of Paradox Solutions, have been members of eWomenNetwork for a year.
Plumberg, a marketing coach to small-business owners, says she was coaching others to take advantage of networking opportunities and decided to follow her own advice.
She also received six invites from friends who were already members of eWomenNetwork to attend a luncheon as a guest. “I took the hint to at least explore this opportunity since so many friends, unbeknownst to one another, were inviting me,” she says.
She was impressed. “When I walked in, I didn’t know everyone in the room. That’s unusual, that I don’t know more than half the people in a room,” she says. “It was awesome. Everyone was eager to help me even though they’d just met me. I immediately saw the value.”
Plumberg now serves as events speaker coordinator for the organization.
Stiver, a former veterinarian and now a business coach, also says she was impressed. “I don’t network a lot, but this organization gives me a lot of value, not only with friendships and relationships, but I’ve done a lot of business with people. It’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons and create connections you otherwise might not have.”
Plumberg echoes this sentiment. “You have no idea who knows the person you want to meet. I’ve met incredibly amazing women and have learned incredibly useful things,” she says. “And I know I’m doing my part to uplift and inspire women to be the very best they can be.” Or, in other words, she’s passing on a bit of her own fairy godmother magic.
For more information about the Greater Kansas City Chapter, visit www.ewomennetwork.com. The organization, headquartered in Dallas, was founded in 2000 by wife and husband Sandra and Kym Yancey. It produces more than 2,000 women’s business events annually through 118 U.S. and Canadian chapters. Membership benefits include a business profile page on the national website, access to networking events and an online forum, and two one-on-one coaching sessions.