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.
Scott Talley was running that meeting, and I pelted him with questions after the meeting about how NIA® worked, what was the structure, and what being a franchise owner looked like. I couldn't stop thinking about that meeting, and two months later, in July 2016, I was signing the papers to become a franchise owner myself.
I started two groups simultaneously in August 2016. I have been blessed with incredible members and growth. I now have a total of 110 members between four groups! My past experiences in leading other networking groups for years has definitely shaped me and the way I run my Network In Action groups. Because of that experience, I have a good handle on the kind of people I am looking for to be members. I also understand how important it is to have a strong, cohesive, and diverse group.
My Leadership Principles
There are a number of things I do to create value for my members.
Number one, I make sure our meetings are fun! We laugh, we tease, we share our victories and successes, and I reward them for being good members.
The second thing I do is I am constantly in touch with all of my members. I make sure that every single one of my members hears from me via phone, text, or email every week. This "touch," as I call it, is not about business—it's about them as people. I’m just reaching out to make sure they are OK and that their families are good, and I always ask them what I can do for them. I check in with them and make sure they are getting out of NIA® what they want to get, and if they're not, I ask them what I can do to fix it. The result has been a 98 percent renewal rate among my members.
The third thing I do is I help to facilitate the building of relationships among my members. As I bring on new members, I suggest to them fellow members who I think will be good referral partners for them and help them connect with those people. One of the best things I've done with my groups is partner up members within their groups. I then give each partnership a homework assignment, requiring them to have a one-on-one, and to attend another networking event (not NIA®) together. I try to partner up people who I just think will like each other, have things in common, or who have similar responsibilities in their jobs. This creates a camaraderie among the members, and they become each other’s’ "wingmen" at the meeting they attend together. The result has been the development of some amazing relationships, and when people like each other, know each other, and trust each other, they figure out ways to do business together!
The last, and most important, thing I do for my members is pray for each and every one of my members every day. I pray for their businesses, their health, the wellbeing of their families, and their success. I truly believe that has made a huge difference in their lives.
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