BY KELSEY DUNBAR
On a lunch break some people might run out to grab a bite to eat or run home to make some lunch, but members of the Kitchener- Waterloo Business Women’s Association find a way to fit a meeting into their lunch break once a week.
The association meets every Thursday at the Walper Hotel and Terrace in Kitchener on Queen Street. They gather in a beautifully decorated room just off the lobby, featuring tables that are covered in white linens and chairs covered in simple black. Nothing takes away from the antique architecture of this popular hotel.
As people arrive Carolyn Pegg, a member of KWBWA, greets them at the door as they grab their name tags. In the entrance their is a sign with all their business cards for new members and guests to see. “The way the group is set up, we allow one member per business and she ‘protects’ that business in the group …,” Pegg said.
For example, Pegg represents the printing industry. “Within the group there is a dentist and a veterinarian, etc. Sometimes we divide a business. We have two spa owners but one protects hair care and the other protects esthetics. We have another member who protects skin care,” Pegg said.
After all members have arrived everyone stands to toast Canada, and then the Queen. A short moment of silence to honour both follows and then lunch begins. During the meal, members are encouraged to tell everyone about any exciting news within their company and about any specials. A travel agent stood up to talk about her previous travels and deals for flights down south.
Another member passed out coupons for a free 30-minute massage at her spa. “We have a draw every meeting for $25 where the person who wins must tell which other businesses in the group she has used or promoted or recommended since she won last time,” Pegg said.
“One of the things we have found is that we use each other for referrals of all kinds of businesses, not just our immediate ones. For example, someone will send out an email asking, “Does anyone know a good place to get furniture reupholstered?” or “My son just got laid off; could anyone forward his resume to a possible hire?” The response is always immediate.”
The organization was started in the late 1980s by several women in business who met around a kitchen table. They all agreed a forum of other women should be formed to help them meet, develop contacts, support each other and develop professionally. It’s the same idea as a gentlemen’s club, but for women instead.
At the Oct. 24 meeting, guest speaker Donna Messar, queen of networking, shared some of her tips and also discussed social networking. She said if you write something or read something you like, you should immediately post it onto all of your social media platforms then check your Google alerts to see who else is talking about what you just posted. Those people can make great connections for any further information you need.
“What I would like you to recognize is that you all are very good at what you do but what you don’t do is really maximize the who you are and where you are at … that is where social media can help,” Messar said.