May 26 • 07:47 PM

'Networking' to next level

Imlay City Women's Networking Group an enthusiastic endeavor

Local businesswomen listen in as Stephanie Gilliland discusses her inspiration to 'rock her business' locally. photo by Catherine Minolli.

February 01, 2017
IMLAY CITY — "Networking." An oft-overused buzzword in the business community that, while popular, isn't always easily defined.

But there's a strong, core group of women in business—some of them in more than one—who are focused on not just defining the word, but making it a tangible reality when it comes to the bottom line.

The Imlay City Women's Networking Group is taking "networking" to the next level with weekly meetings every Thursday morning at the Mulefoot Gastropub downtown.

More than 30 local businesswomen turned out for an organizational breakfast meeting on January 26. Businesses represented ran the spectrum from cosmetic specialists to organic farms. The crowd included a certified firearms instructor, florist, pet groomer, fitness instructor, automotive consultant, spa owner, graphic artist/printer, horse trainer and riding instructor, and Prolympian coach and an alcohol and substance abuse screener, a photographer, life insurance specialist, retail sales experts and more.

The Networking Group, co-founded by Amanda Jackman of Primerica Financial Services and Erin Wetzel of StudioE Photography, began meeting in October of 2016. Jackman says the group's aim is to empower women around the area. She was inspired to take

action in the local community after attending one of her husband's Business Network International (BNI) meetings.

"I was so impressed with what was going on at that BNI meeting, and I thought 'I want this here,'" Jackman says, referring to the Imlay City community. "This is where my roots are, and I want my roots to grow strong."

It seems Jackman isn't alone when it comes to growing strong roots in Imlay City. Women who join the group make a strong commitment to both networking and referrals. Each member has an opportunity to promote their business and/or business needs via a 50 second 'commercial' at the weekly meetings. There will also be a featured speaker from the group, who will have ten minutes to relate their message.

"We're creating a community of women to back one another," says co-founder Erin Wetzel. "We all have a reason why we do what we do, and that's the most important message we can convey."

Fellow business entrepreneur Stephanie Gilliland agrees.

"I'm here to share, to inspire, and to be motivated," Gilliland told the crowd. "I'm here to learn more ways to rock my business, because in the end, people don't buy what you do, they buy who you are."

Like the BNI structure, membership in the group is limited with regard to the number of service professionals in any given business. Quarterly dues of $25 help defray meeting fees, and include applicable handouts and unlimited referrals from inside the group. Regular attendance is encouraged to optimize the networking and referral opportunities.

Door prizes and other giveaways are included in some meetings as well.

Membership is attained through an application process. Applications and more information are available at the Thursday morning meetings. Stop in the Mulefoot Gastropub any Thursday morning from 8:30-9:30 a.m. for details.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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