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From the Executive Director
Dear Members and Colleagues:
I once attended a professional networking event held at a rental business south of Boston. They carry almost anything you need to clean, renovate or entertain. I looked around with curiosity wondering, "What is that? How much for that? Do you have a karaoke machine?" (Unfortunately the answer to that was no.) Then I entered a corner of the store that I'll call the "Carnival Zone". That's when, amidst the cotton candy machine, popcorn maker and frozen drink machine, I saw it - Spin Art. "You have Spin Art!" I said.
For those not familiar with Spin Art, it's a small tabletop machine equipped with paint, paper cards and a spinner. Place your card in the box, close the top and it spins. The cover has a narrow slit in which to drop the paint. No matter what it looks like while it spins, the finished product looks completely different when you open the cover. That is part of the fun.
Since the group was small enough, the owner of the store set up the machine. There we were, a group of around 20 professionals hovering over each other waiting to see who created the best Spin Art. Although we engaged in friendly competition, we enjoyed about 30 minutes of pure fun.
As everyone took their turn, I noticed something I don't see very often: A group of adults acting as playful and innocent as children. The group was present. We laughed and watched attentively as each "artist" created his or her work. For a moment in time there was no talk of work, family, stress. No one checked their phone and no one sent a text message. We were enjoying ourselves, in that moment, having fun with Spin Art. Nothing else seemed to matter.
Sure, networking requires a commitment to time and effort if you want to develop lasting relationships. Adding a bit of fun helps us relax and get to know each other as people. It is that human element that allows us to develop a strong relationship.
This month the SSWBN has some fun networking events planned. Consider these events a starting point for creating the relationships you need for success. The real work starts after the event. To create a strong connection you must follow-up and commit to staying in touch. Can you join us for an event or two this month?
September 10, Coffee with the President. Share your thoughts, comments, concerns, questions and success stories with SSWBN President Stacy Doherty. This event is free to attend and open to current and potential SSWBN Members. Learn more at Coffee with the President.
September 12, Business After Hours at Dave & Buster's. Talk about fun! Free to attend, so please RSVP here.
September 18, Networking Lunch at the Abington Ale House. Register here.
September 26, Speaker Breakfast with featured speaker, mystery writer and media personality Hank Phillippi Ryan. Reserve your seat early!
As we enter the fall season, I invite you to stay present and find enjoyment in your networking activities and business. Go ahead, bring a bit of Spin Art into your life!
P.S. I came across this great blog post about "networking for no reason" by Michael Katz, owner of Blue Penguin Development, a company that specializes in helping solo professionals create successful businesses and lives. When was the last time you networked without an agenda?
Message from the President
It seems as if another summer has come and gone, the roads are filling up with long yellow busses, and before you know it the trees will be losing their leaves, and you will be trading in those camisoles for sweaters and leggings! The changing of seasons is a great time to take a deeper look into your business and marketing plan. Are you on target for what you projected at the beginning of the year? Have you started thinking about your goals and expectations for the last quarter of the year?
July was my slowest month for work, as many of my clients were on vacation and really enjoying their summer nights. Taking those open hours, I was able to meet with many members over coffee, walks, and lunches. I had the opportunity to get to know a little more about those people and their businesses. A major trend was that most people were looking forward to September: they are planning to roll out new products, get busy working, and reevaluate their marketing efforts. I guess that students aren't the only ones who will be getting back to work this fall!
If you took the summer off, now is a great time to check out upcoming events and join us! We had our first monthly Coffee with the President in August -- thanks again to our host, Kim DeGust of Coughlin & Company Real Estate. This was an opportunity for new and old members to come and ask questions, share suggestions and ideas and learn more about making the most of the Network.
Stacey Shipman has jumped right in with both feet to develop an educational series for our members with a focus on the basic building blocks of any business foundation. The Business Development Team is creating a dynamic event to be held this winter full of educational seminars and inspiration!
We have an Afterhours event coming up with member Dave & Busters, and Jess Foley has promised that FUN is on the guest list!
Our monthly breakfast and lunch meetings have been full of energy, and we encourage you to bring a guest, friend or coworker who would benefit from meeting our supportive, business minded, and fabulous members.
Need more ways to get involved? Become a volunteer to one of our many teams -- the Business Development, Education and Marketing Teams are all currently looking for new members with fresh insight and remarkable ideas. Become part of a Roundtable group! These groups meet once a month, focus on helping each other with support, education and advice, by acting as a sounding board or board of advisors through various stages of a business' life.
Whether you work a 9-5 schedule or mother's hours, we do have a variety of events to fit your calendar and hope to see you soon!
"The opposite of Networking is NOT-Working."
About the Law
Does Your Legacy Deserve the Services of a Craftsman?
Sometimes it just makes sense to share what others have written. A colleague of mine, Jesse Bateman, who is director of Financial Services at NFP Thorbahn, sent along an article that explains in a very logical fashion why some people are technicians and some are crafts people.
You can go online and find Legalzoom© and many other services like it, which provide fill-in forms for estate planning and other legal needs. You can drive to Staples© or another superstore and buy forms for the same purpose. These represent examples of what I call "technicians."
Our office drafts legal documents of various types every day. We often call many of these forms "standard" forms. The truth is that nothing we draft is standard or off the rack. Each form is tailored to fit the specific needs of the client and the client's family and business. We listen, ask questions, draft, redraft, explain ... and then when the fit is perfect the document gets signed and goes out the door.
We like to think of ourselves as craftsmen and not merely technicians.
If you would like a free copy of the article, The Seven Biggest Mistakes in Estate Planning, please send me an Email firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will be happy to forward it. Read it and call us if you have questions.
We are the craftspeople at Gordon, Mond & Ott, P.C.
Gordon, Mond & Ott
"We're all in this together." That's particularly true in our network! Just take a look at how some of our members have benefited from membership in the SSWBN -- including sometimes taking full advantage of the Member-to-Member discount!
Kateri MacDonald-Bousaleh, Esq. of MacDonald Bousaleh Law Officesis a great example of someone in SSWBN who has used the network to her advantage. She expresses her thanks to a few fellow members this month, starting with a sincere thanks to Reiko Beach of TRBDesign, Inc. "Reiko took my bland, quickly-thrown-together, do-it-yourself skeleton of a website, and masterfully transformed it into a beautiful, professional-looking and content-rich internet destination. She patiently explained internet marketing to me (I'm a true novice!), and then enlightened and trained me on the simple, practical way in which I can keep my website optimized, interesting and helpful to those people who are out there researching attorneys on the web. I can't say enough about how grateful I am, and how pleased I am with my law firm's new website. Thank you, Reiko."
Kateri continues, "I met Patty Funder of LaserLight Skin Clinic at a recent SSWBN breakfast, and learned that she did all types of aesthetic laser treatments. As a new business owner I know that appearances are important and it had been on my mind for a while to look into laser therapies to see what could be done to alleviate acne scars, broken capillaries, and hemangiomas. I was very happy to visit Patty at Laser Light (so convenient - right at Queen Anne's Corner!), and to learn that she could solve all of these problems and more. I immediately felt relaxed with Patty because of her years of experience, extensive training, professional certification, state-of-the art equipment and vast stores of dermatological knowledge, which she very willingly and patiently shared with me before each procedure. The results speak for themselves: like magic, unsightly marks and scars on my face have either disappeared or faded away. I am greatly looking forward to my first photofacial with Patty, which can undo years of sun damage. I never thought such excellent outcomes were possible -- thank you so much, Patty!"
"Finally," she says, "I would like to thank Cheryle Brady of Ameriprise Financial, who is one of the few Five Star Wealth Managers in Massachusetts, for helping me figure out my investment strategy. When I left my old law firm and opened my own, I still had my old 401K lingering around, but the difference was that now I had the power to invest it with whomever I chose. I did not hesitate to contact Cheryle -- with her many securities licenses and certifications, her position as a Vice President with Ameriprise Financial, and her award as a Five Star Wealth Manager - I knew instantly who I wanted watching over and strategizing my investment plan. The results have been phenomenal, and I cannot say enough about Cheryle's investment knowledge, experience and expertise, as well as the superb level of service and attentiveness that I receive from her company. I am so glad I chose Cheryle to advise me and handle my investments -- thank you."
Nancy Boyle, CYT, of Live Light Yoga, would like to thank Stacey Shipman for introducing her to a prospective employer in Hanover for opportunities to teach yoga at various studios in the area. Although the opportunity never materialized due to the business closing unexpectedly, said Nancy, "I am very grateful that Stacey reached out on my behalf!"
Rosemarie Lanchester of Everything You Wish For would like to thank Anna Linzi and Matt Menapace of Lightheart Enterprises for offering their fantastic Ribbon Gift Albums. "Gift giving can be so challenging! Talk about taking the stress out of this process -- this is a dream come true! My holidays will surely be so much more joyous from now on. If you haven't yet done so, do yourself a favor and schedule coffee with Anna to see her vast array of high quality gifts that these Ribbon Albums offer. You will be truly amazed at the selection!"
Rosemarie also thanks Kristen Ford Hernandez of Enterprise Marketing once again, for all of her kindness and help with various tasks she has done to improve her website and business overall.
Kathleen Keegan of Real Estate Rocks! sends special thanks to Lois Wood of LW Creative Group for her terrific guidance with the Real Estate Rocks website. "She had some great ideas! I love how she just looked at it and came up with options. Looking forward to rolling it out!" said Kathleen.
Megan Stewart of Acupuncture and Homeopathy of Hingham is grateful for the professional assistance from Judy Rizzo of Rizzo's Plumbing and Heating -- Judy arranged for a plumber to fix Megan's leaky shower.
Kim DeGust of Coughlin & Co. Real Estate sends warm thanks to Tracy Marino of Tracy Marino Photography for her donation of a silent auction item for Dove's 35th Anniversary Harvesting Hope Gala. Kim reminds us all that there is still time to donate an auction item, purchase an ad or buy tickets to the Gala October 25th at the Quincy Marriott. DOVE is a comprehensive multi-service agency providing life-saving services by addressing the complex issues of domestic violence. Contact Kim at Kim@couglinhomes.com to get involved or check out http://doveinc.info/ to learn more.
This month, I would like to thank Patrica Queeney of Patricia & Company for encouraging me to sing for the members of a cancer support group I had just joined, the Cancer Crusaders in Weymouth. It was fun, and they really enjoyed it, and now all of them know me on a much deeper level. Also, thanks to Janet LaBerge of Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap) for asking me to sing at her recent Party for a Reason at her Good Deeds shop in Pembroke. I've made a number of interesting local contacts at these parties that just might turn into paying performances for me! Thanks!
Network. Socialize. Get to know one another. Anticipate each other's needs. Follow up. Offer of yourself, or ask for help from a member. Let's make even more Connections!
Songs of the Colonial Days
|Above and Beyond|
|Kim DeGust, Real Estate Professional|
I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer and is looking forward to a productive autumn season. I am looking forward to writing this column and working with Patty Funder and the Newsletter Team to share the exciting news of our members with you.
Lori Johnson, owner of Your Best Image
, is pleased to announce the addition of the J. Hilburn luxury
menswear line to her business. According to Lori, she can deliver the world's finest fabrics and personalized construction directly to you. She promises custom and ready-to-wear men's clothing at fantastic prices. Get a sneak peak at the products on the website.
Congratulations to Dr. Lisa Lewis of Cohasset Family Chiropractic
, the lucky winner of a free business consultation with Laura Willis of Willis Works Communications
. Dr. Lewis said, "Laura had obviously studied my website and was ready for our meeting with some really good questions that got me to express to her who I am, what I do and why I do it. She captured and understood what I said and gave me great feedback. She noted that my passion came across very well during our conversation -- but not on my website. I learned a lot from her about what 'branding' actually is: it is a lot more than just having a logo and a coordinated look! I was really impressed by how insightful she is. Much appreciation, Laura Willis!" Dr. Lewis won the gift certificate from Willis Works Communications at the August breakfast. Members are encouraged to bring raffle prizes to the meetings, and as this attests, it is a great way to get more people acquainted with your products and services.
Congratulations to Maureen Elliot who recently accepted a position with Spread Shirt
. Maureen is in charge of branding for the B2B division in North America. She can accommodate orders of any and all sizes, whether embroidery or screen print. Spread Shirt also has applications for digital direct and other applications with sparkles and all of the fun kinds of printing. Call Maureen at 1-617-933-2503 x2519 with any questions.
Whether you have won an award, earned a degree or other recognition, or reached a milestone in your business, SSWBN
wants to hear about it. Personal news is welcome too! Shoot me an email with the details and you and your business will be highlighted in a future edition of this column.
Coughlin & Company Real Estate
(781) 363-0485 cell
Each month the SSWBN Membership Team recognizes a member who exemplifies the qualities of a Networking Nova, a person who embodies the Network's core values of coaching, contacts and collaboration; someone who is visible at many SSWBN events and who treats others with respect and dignity. In addition, this person utilizes the Network to build his/her business and helps others do the same.
Elizabeth Young ~
This is my first year with SSWBN.
One of SSWBN's long-standing members is a friend of mine and she has hired me for several gigs (at her home for a 4th of July concert, for example) and I have stayed in contact with her for years.
As a newcomer, I contacted people in SSWBN and will shortly be using one member's company to do some work for me. Cathy Follett of Renovisions put in our counter tops and sink. Joe Hernandez of Premiere Pros is working on our bedroom wallpaper installment.
Giving a presentation about my business as a performing artist and producer at a Linden Ponds breakfast was a great way to connect.
The Network has provided many opportunities to branch out to others and collaborate. Completing this questionnaire for the NOVA recognition in the newsletter has inspired me to attend more meetings now that I am back in town. My work takes me out of town to Washington, DC and New York City.
I advise my fellow members to follow your dream, use the resources available to you to build upon your contacts and learn more about owning your own business. Don't give up. Since I joined SSWBN, I became inspired to design a completely new "state of the art" website - www.youngsings.com.
I am available for holidays and parties and do impersonations, including Patsy Cline, Marilyn Monroe, and Mrs. Santa Claus to name a few. I also sing classics from the 1920s to today -- so if you have an elderly relative in need of good cheer, I make singing house calls!
Elizabeth Young, Entertainer
serves as your Managing Editor of the SSWBN Compass.
E-newsletter designed by
Yarn Shop as Family Business
Name: Alison Schirone, Co-Owner and General Manager
Co-Owner: Robert C. Schirone, Jr.
Business Name: Yarn's End
Address: 1112 Washington Street in Hanover (conveniently located across from the service entrance to Target)
How did you come to be in this line of work?
When expressing the desire to my SSWBN Roundtable to be involved in a business that was more hands-on creative and more social than the business strategy and consulting practice I also own and operate (ac associates), one of my Roundtable co-members challenged me to pursue it. She said, "You've been talking about this for two years: what are you afraid of? You encourage all types of people to pursue new business ideas. What's holding you back?"
Those words were the catalyst for me to consider the possible hands-on creative businesses that would make sense for my family and me.
What are the top three things that separate you from your competition?
Yarn's End offers:
- Superb customer service to yarn shoppers, with a special Yarn-mobile service that makes deliveries to senior communities, shut-in shoppers, home parties, girl scout troops and anyone else who wants to buy yarn, get lessons, or be part of the Yarn's End community.
- Special orders don't upset us. Don't see it? Ask, we'll order it.
- A charity knitting program, in which we engage customers to knit for charity and give a discount on yarn when they buy it at Yarn's End. We've contributed Love Baskets to D.O.V.E., and in February our customers knit hats and blankets for The Children's Hospital Intensive Care Unit. We are currently running a dishcloth/washcloth competition with entries going to the Norwell Family Shelter.
Describe your dream/perfect/best customer.
We're from an "even Steven" family and set of belief systems, where we give and treat everyone with equality and generosity. So, we love all our customers the same, listen to their stories with intention, and enjoy their relationships when they're in our space. We are softies for our year-round knitters and crocheters, even as they show their generosity by supporting our local business, even in the heat of summer or on bad-weather days when it would be easier to stay at home and hunker down.
What changes are happening, or can you predict happening soon, within your industry?
From our perch, we see that knitting and crocheting products, and yarn in particular, become only more enticing and glorious to work with as time goes on. There has been a resurgence of crafting by twenty-something women AND men, so it seems our category has a good survival opportunity. The challenge ahead is to maintain our share of pocket for discretionary spending as the economy continues to improve. Consumers spend money on much more disposable items, like dining out, when they have more money in their pockets. We hope we've established the right presence on their list of how to spend their money and find enjoyment.
What do you regard as your greatest achievement in business to date?
As a family-owned business, we have had to make personal sacrifices in order to fund our business. We are self-funded so it is no surprise that when as we compromised our personal liquidity and took on personal debt to direct both toward Yarn's End, that we took on financial risk to our family. It has been a challenge, but in one short year we have been able to build a great business, while also maintaining our other jobs, in order to make this dream stay true.
Where do you want you and your business to be in five years?
We would like this business to be at the center of our retirement plan, a place we will enjoy going to as we age and continue to work. We're growing our online store, so we can reach more people without adding overhead. We are planning to be profitable before that time, but have built a great business model for our crafting business and would like to embark on a growth plan that includes more stores with investment by owners and managers with similar values to ours.
What benefit(s) have you received through your networking efforts?
We see our networking, particularly in SSWBN, as valuable to our success. My Roundtable poked holes in the business plan, offered great ideas like the lending library at Yarn's End, volunteered when we were developing our lessons, designed the space, created Human Resource procedures and even directed early sales to us. In fact, two of our early customers included SSWBN former member Terri Narus (a fabulous knitter) and Jackie Hurstak, who invited us to host a knitting party in her home!
What is/are your one or two toughest challenges?
- Our business experience is in the service industry, so sometimes we are "retail-challenged." Alison hopes to use the SSWBN to develop a local retailer/ independent networking group.
- Buying properly to have just the right combination of traditional, funky/artsy, and luxurious yarns for people to buy. Yarn is like fashion: you are buying it in advance of the trends and hoping you understand what the industry and your customers will like and buy.
What motivates you on a day-to-day basis?
Knowing that I'm going to a pleasant place, where the colors and textures are uplifting, and that I might make a difference in someone's life by listening to their story or supporting the therapeutic value that knitting and crocheting (and talking) provide.
What is something that members may be surprised to learn about you?
I learned to knit at about five years old as a result of my longing to be around my grandmother. We spoke different languages (she Armenian, me English) and learning to knit was something we could do through our language barrier. I learned to sew that way, too. Plus, I absolutely loved my Barbie doll (yes we only had one in those days) when I was a kid, and could make a knitted outfit for Barbie without too much trouble.
What do you do in your spare time for fun?
Working two businesses and having a full time job (between the two owners) leaves little spare time for our family; but lately we have been working on getting healthy and more physically fit. We started spending our off- time as a couple biking, listening to bands, growing and cooking good food, and remembering to spend time with our friends and family.