You Don't Have to Choose...
I started SHE Leads Group, because of how little respect I received in other leads groups. This is not a woe is me blog, rather a story of something amazing that happened. I am actually fine with the people who were disrespectful of my role as mom and professional business owner and I am writing this to tell you, you don't have to choose!
Don't let anyone make you think that you have to choose to be either dedicated mom or successful career woman.
You can be both! I am both. I was a loyal member of a leads group and a fervent giver. I was one of the top passers of quality leads and introductions. My attendance was better than most. I had great relationships with everyone in the group. My reputation was something I was proud of. However, I left this group twice, because I was disrespected as a mom.
The first time was shortly after my son was diagnosed with autism. It was a very private thing and a bit devastating to get the news. I did not share this with anyone other than his educators and our family. Over the course of my tenure in this leads group, many members would get up at meetings and tell us about the non-profit for which they were trying to raise money. So, naturally when I approached the president of our chapter to get approval to use my 30 second commercial to let everyone know about my son's Cub Scout popcorn fundraiser, I was being respectful and assumed she would say it was OK. Instead it was a resounding, "no". I was told parents should not help their children with these things and she would not allow me to mention it. We had some follow-up conversations, and disagreed on this matter. I was not about to tell her my very personal and private information about my son and why his circumstance was different. It became so uncomfortable with this person, that I left the group. Many in the group were shocked when I left. I was one of those members you would never think would leave. I felt very disrespected when I was lectured about the president's opinion of why I should not help my son. This same person would talk behind another mom member's back, because that mom would bring her newborn to meetings. I would hear how unprofessional that was. I left that group shaking my head about how mom's were treated.
When I heard that the president of the chapter had left, I decided I would visit it again. Everyone who knew me and knew how much of a giver I was, welcomed me back. I was so excited to be back with people I trusted. I re-joined rather quickly and excitedly. In doing so, I realized I probably needed to have a talk with the new president of the chapter. I was now at a place where I felt comfortable with this new president to tell him my son had been diagnosed with autism and during school vacations, I would need to take a hiatus. With the recent diagnosis, therapy and spending as much time with him as possible would help in his ability to overcome his challenges. I was very respectful and said that I understood my business category could not be held open for me. I expected, given my track record, that this would be approved, but I was told that either I was to be here all the time or I was not welcome. I was basically told I had to choose between being a dedicated mom OR being a member of this group. Well, my son came first. I left the group a second time.
I am thankful for these two experiences, because it sent me looking for a group that met after school drop off and would be compassionate towards my situation. I visited many different corporate and private leads groups. None of them offered a quality experience for a mom. Sure there are mom networking groups, but none of them were what I was looking for. In some of the groups I visited, I would get the sense that moms were almost looked upon as though they weren't really serious about their business, because we will always put our family first. In putting family first, that doesn't mean we can't serve our clients with the most extraordinary customer experience. We can do both!
So, to professional moms all over the country, I want to say that you can have it all in a leads group. I took everything I liked in leads groups and enhanced those aspects. I took everything that was not mom-friendly and did the opposite. Here are just a few things we do differently:
1. No start-up businesses are allowed. I have an established network of 13 years in business. I want to share it, but I want to share it with a company that has a great track record and reputation. I want to share it with a company who also has an established network.
2. No MLM's/network marketing companies. I have built my business from ground zero. I have had failures and successes. I have learned from those failures and successes. I want to surround myself with other business women who have built an established business of their own from ground up. I want a group of women who would be willing to share their knowledge with me as I can with them.
3. Meetings after school drop off. Moms can now drop their kids off to school and still enjoy an early morning meeting.
4. Well behaved, children who are not disruptive can attend meetings and those moms won't be frowned upon, nor will anyone talk behind their back because they do so. You don't have to be a mom to be in SHE Leads Group, but you do need to be OK with seeing a child at an occasional meeting.
5. Business development training at every meeting. SHE Leads Group members have access to an entire library of training through the back end of the website. This value-added training is a compilation of my 30 years of sales, marketing and customer service experience.
6. No eating meetings or high membership dues. Many corporate groups have high membership dues and then meetings are held over a meal at a restaurant. SHE Leads Group finds professional meeting space where buying a meal is not required.
7. We only meet twice a month. We might get some criticism for this one, but I stand my ground as for our reasoning. As busy business women and moms, meeting weekly can be challenging. Relationships happen outside the meetings in one-on-ones where people get to know, like and trust one another. We do have an attendance policy, after all we only meet twice a month. On our off weeks we do at least one, one-on-one with another member. In following these policies, no one forgets about each other.
There are many other ways we are VERY different from other leads groups. Click here to find out how.