Stacy Harris, First franchisee to own four groups
NIA The Woodlands Groups, Texas
I started my image consulting business, Impressions, eleven years ago after working in the sales and marketing industries for about a decade. It was a good decision. Though being an entrepreneur is fraught with uncertainty and challenges, I found that I thrived as my own boss. Of course, one of the biggest hurdles all business owners face is getting their name and product to the masses. Since I started my business on a very limited budget, my only marketing strategy was my own blood, sweat, and tears. I have always been a relationship person, and I knew that if I could just meet people face to face and develop a relationship with them, I'd be able to build my business.
Fortunately, a friend of mine invited me to a professional networking event and the rest is history. I was totally mesmerized by this group of people who were meeting together to talk about their businesses and send customers to one another through the oldest (and best) marketing method in the book—word of mouth! I loved meeting all these new people, finding out about their businesses, and then figuring out ways to connect them to customers and clients who would bring them business. Nothing made me happier than to get a call or text from my networking buddies telling me that a referral I had sent them had turned into cold, hard cash.
For the next ten years, I attended as many networking events as I could fit in, narrowed down the ones that were the most mutually beneficial, and then I committed myself to being the best networker I could be. I studied the art of networking, I talked to people who I knew were good networkers, and I read books on networking. The result? Over the years, I became a great networker with a crazy amount of contacts and connections.
There was one networking group in particular that I had dedicated myself to for nine years. I served as president of that group multiple times and was always in a leadership role of some kind over those years. I excelled at leading and inspiring the group to hit new goals and set a big vision of success. It was a great experience, and I formed valuable relationships there, but after nine years, I had outgrown the group, and it was time for me to move on.
I found out about NIA® through, guess what, a networking partner. I drove an hour to visit my first NIA® meeting in May 2016. I was so impressed with the level of professionalism I saw in the whole concept of using technology to keep everyone in touch with each other and the business that was being generated by the members.