Writing for Fairygodboss inspires me every day — I love to see stories on the site about women’s empowerment, ways women can succeed in their careers and especially about how we can work together to support and empower each other in every aspect of our lives.
To that end, I want to share info on the local women’s business alliance that I’m a part of, how it got started and how you can create one, too! The Women’s Business Alliance of LKN is an exclusive, close-knit networking and supportive group of women entrepreneurs serving the Lake Norman, North Carolina area. It’s the brainchild of local photographer and WBALKN president, Heather Edmunds.
As she was preparing to take her photography business full-time in 2015, Edmunds searched for a unique way to serve her clients. “I wanted to give them a thank you gift which also served as a way to promote small businesses and offered a quick resource for the 'who’s who' of the area,” Edmunds said. ”I used my network and looked for local businesses who were interested in collaborating, and started out with the swag bag concept. Each business would pay a small fee and be included into all of my clients’ swag bags that they receive when they book a session with me.”
Over the past two years, the group has expanded and a Facebook group was created for support. The group meets monthly and has guest speakers who share marketing techniques and services that their business offers. Our members can learn, be supported and network in a friendly, supportive environment. We often team up for different events and promote each other’s businesses on social media.
“This alliance has benefited me personally in having a support system who understands the effort it takes to be a small business owner,” Edmunds said. “These women are not just my partners, but my family! Our motto for WBA is to build, support, and empower. We build each other up to succeed, support each other during the process, and empower each other to excel and push farther than we did the day before.”
Here are some tips if you’re interested in creating a local women’s business alliance:
Charge for membership – Members who pay a small annual fee (WBALKN charges $99 annually) are more motivated to attend meetings, get training and be an active part of the alliance. They want to connect and get the most out of their investment.
Avoid competition - There should be one type of each business to eliminate competition and give everyone the ability to promote other members (e.g., one baker, one event planner, one life coach…)
Keep it small - The WBALKN had almost 50 members at one point. However, they weren’t active, so there wasn’t a benefit for everyone to keep the group large. Now, at 25 members, WBALKN has hit the sweet spot, according to Edmunds. “When it comes to adding people, I typically interview them first to ensure they are a good fit for our group or they come in verified by an existing member. The more they’re willing to participate and be involved, the better they’ll be for our alliance.”
Involve everyone – Not every member can make every meeting or event. Use social media tools like Facebook Live to recap meetings and keep everyone as connected as possible, to better promote and encourage one another.
Share responsibility – Elect marketing, charity and event chairwomen, so others within the group are motivated to step up and serve, too. Give those chairs access to the group FB and Instagram pages, so they can post and support other members, even if the founding member is unavailable or busy with their business. It’s good to have multiple members as the face of the organization.
Pay it forward – Choose or create a local charity to help (which also promotes your alliance). WBALKN is becoming more active in the community as we also sponsor charities, including Shades of Love LKN and the Mooresville Soup Kitchen, both of which are outstanding community organizations.
For more information, see our Facebook page, WBALKN.
Kimberly Gohringer started Empower Now to help women create positive change in their lives. As a neuro-linguistic coach, mom and professional writer, she has the tools to help you crash through the barriers that can stop you from pursuing your dreams and true potential.