Creating a Business Networking Group
As a small business owner/floral designer, I highly value my membership in a group of floral designers and flower growers in the Seattle area. Our group is called Flower Power. Four women started this group in early 2016 with the purpose of providing collaboration and support for one another. We now number over 40 members! We all found each other through workshops, our incredible local wholesale grower’s market in Seattle, networking, and Instagram.
We meet once per month in each other’s homes and gardens or agreed upon venues such as a winery tasting room, a wedding supply rental company, and condominium clubhouses. Our meetings often involve a guest speaker or a focused discussion, and some of our topics have included: utilizing social media, favorite greenery and florals to grow, self-care, tips for photographing flowers, using QuickBooks, pricing standards, etc. Other times we meet simply to socialize and visit with each other.
We always emphasize collaboration and mutual support, so we often dedicate time to sharing our personal highs and lows to provide encouragement and support. We share resources, advice, books, tips, and supplies. Many of us pitch in and freelance for each other. We have collaboratively donated centerpieces for charity auctions and made floral crowns and bouquets for random gifts of kindness. There are no restrictions on our membership and no by-laws, so each member is welcome to invite others to join. While this works for us, other groups may find the need for more structure. We communicate with each other via a Facebook page and a listserve Gmail. I look forward to our meetings every month, and I value all the members of our group and my interactions with these women gives me an incredible feeling of alliance and belonging!
If you are interested in starting a group I recommend asking yourself these questions:
- What will be the purpose of the group? Will you create a stated mission?
- Who will the group include: floral designers, small business owners, growers, or a combination of these?
- Where will you meet?
- How often will you plan to meet?
- Will you create by-laws and/or membership qualifications?
- What will be the process for incorporating new members? Will there be a limit to the number of members?
- How will you communicate with each other?
- What will be your platform for “recruiting” members?
There must be 100’s of ways to structure a group and each group will look different. I’m confident though, that the majority of us will benefit from belonging to a group of floral professionals that have the intent to support one another, collaborate, and make positive contributions to our communities.