New women's business network sets goals
Thirty-six Island businesswomen answered an early morning wakeup call last week from the Martha's Vineyard Women's Network. The occasion was a program on goal setting and a preview of upcoming programs.
Kae Williams, the network's president, first outlined programs and goals for the new organization. Next was a lively seminar led by Jean M. DiGiovanna, founder and owner of ThinkPeople, a consulting and coaching business.
The 7:30 am breakfast meeting at the Grill on Main restaurant in Edgartown was only the second meeting for the network, which first met in May. The network now has 37 members. It plans to meet about every six weeks from September through May, since summer is so busy for everyone, Ms. Williams said.
The network's main mission will be to provide education and resources and a forum to exchange ideas on business issues. Many of the programs will focus on education, based on feedback from members.
"There are not a lot of business educational resources on the Island," Ms. Williams said in an interview after the meeting. "It's really about helping the businesses on the Island enhance their business skills."
The network also would like to develop a mentoring program, set up small advisory groups and workshops on specific issues, such as one for retail owners, Ms. Williams said. The organization also wants to take stands on Vineyard issues, she told the meeting attendees.
"We want to be a voice in the community for particular issues," she said. She named the beer and wine licensing efforts in Vineyard Haven and seasonal workers as examples. The organization will decide whether to support an issue or not, she said.
The group's leaders have worked with the League of Women Voters to consider the organization's format, and will use the league's consensus method to deal with issues, Ms. Williams said.
Other benefits of membership include a free listing in the network's online business directory, discounts on meetings, and a quarterly e-newsletter. Future meetings will include a panel discussion among six Island businesswomen on Nov. 6, an evening holiday event on Dec. 11 featuring the Island's slow food movement, and a seminar on financial planning for small business owners on Jan. 29.
Ms. Williams described to the women a plan to conduct an Island-wide technology survey of businesses this fall to discover what software applications and hardware they use, and the level of technology skills they need. The network will compile the survey results and take the information to build classes based on the needs, she said. The training classes may be with people on-Island, or off-Island or through online seminars, and will be available for all businesses, she said.
As a former board member of the Boston Women's Network, Ms. Williams said she saw the benefit of educational services for members. The local group wants both employers and employees to join. The annual membership fee is $85, plus an additional charge of $20 for individual meetings. Non-members are also welcome to attend meetings for a per-meeting fee.
Other officers are treasurer Margo Urbany-Joyce, secretary Elizabeth Rothwell, and vice president for economic development Barbara Welsh.
Ms. DiGiovanna, who presented the hour-long program, is a certified professional co-active coach and former president of the Boston Women's Network. She led an energetic discussion to help the women focus on their individual business goals, using a workbook in which they could write their answers to various questions. She said her aim for the women was to leave the session with specific goals, starting with their intentions regarding their businesses.
"The premise today is getting clear on your intentions, and watching and manifesting them," she explained. Her first question was: "How would your business look if anything were possible and you knew you could not fail?"
She then asked the women to list their successes for the past year, as well as shortfalls, using that term instead of failures. When Ms. DiGiovanna asked what the exercise did for the women, some said it provided them with energy to move on, as well as self-acknowledgement. She also encouraged them to celebrate their successes. "If we don't re-charge our batteries," she said, "we won't be in the right set of mind."
Ms. DiGiovanna asked the women to list what they learned from their business experiences in the past year and explained how they could turn those experiences into positive actions they could practice throughout the year. She also used a brief visualization exercise to get the women to focus on their accomplishments, their impact on others, and what they put behind them and what they learned in the past year.
She coached volunteers from the group who were willing to share their answers to questions about intentions. She encouraged them to be more specific, more excited, more positive, and to aim high in the amount of money they expected to earn in the coming year.
"The more specific you are, the universe will know what you want," she said. Ms. DiGiovanna's final suggestions were: "Acknowledge your accomplishments. Use your shortfallings to grow and learn. Set intentions first and keep goals simple. Request the support you need."
Several attendees indicated they found the session helpful. Phyllis Vecchia, whose business is Creative Drama, said the program was very positive, and she was surprised how much Ms. DiGiovanna did in an hour. "It re-energized my thought processes," Ms. Vecchia said.
Noreen Baker, who operates The Clutter Queen, also liked the positive aspect of the program. "Her process of goal setting and intentions will help with my clients," she said.