Peterborough’s business women network for their own benefit – and the community’s

Women's Business Network of Peterborough welcomes new members to share expertise and build relationships

The 2015-16 board of the Women's Business Network of Peterborough. Front row (left to right): Louise Shea, Colleen Carruthers, Glenda Vandermeulen, Theresa Foley, Andrea McLeod; back row (left to right): Catia Skinner, Mary McGee, Lorie Gill, Denise Travers, Gwyneth James, Louise Racine; not pictured: Emily Martin. (Photo: Cynthia Sager, snapd Peterborough)
The 2015-16 board of the Women's Business Network of Peterborough. Front row (left to right): Louise Shea, Colleen Carruthers, Glenda Vandermeulen, Theresa Foley, Andrea McLeod; back row (left to right): Catia Skinner, Mary McGee, Lorie Gill, Denise Travers, Gwyneth James, Louise Racine; not pictured: Emily Martin. (Photo: Cynthia Sager, snapd Peterborough)

Tweets, posts, likes, shares. While there’s no question the face of business has shifted over the past decade, successful business communication — especially for women — is embodied by the proverb: it’s not about who you know, it’s about who knows you.

More and more women in business are acting on that message, including Heather Howe, who has just joined the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough (WBN).

Social worker Heather Howe, a first-time business owner who runs Wen-Do Women's Self Defence in Peterborough, recently joined the Women's Business Network of Peterborough (photo courtesy of Heather Howe)
Social worker Heather Howe, a first-time business owner who runs Wen-Do Women’s Self Defence in Peterborough, recently joined the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough (photo courtesy of Heather Howe)
Apart from her full-time job as a social worker with Fourcast, Howe has started a local chapter of Wen-Do Women’s Self Defence, a not-for-profit national organization that teaches women and girls physical modes of self defence.

She first attended a meeting of WBN as a guest to hear a special speaker she was particularly interested in.

“I found that everybody was really welcoming and friendly,” Howe says. “The evening was very well organized; I received a confirmation email and had a host assigned to me, so I didn’t feel awkward in a room full of strangers.”

While Howe is not particularly looking for new business through WBN, she is looking for tips on how to run a successful business.

“I’m very skilled in teaching self-defence, and skilled in counselling women, but I’ve never run my own business,” she explains. “There’s nothing comparable in this area for women to network and learn. I like that it’s an opportunity to network, but I also like that it’s women-centred.”

That’s not surprising, given that Howe works with women most of the time. Her self-defence program is geared for women, teaching them not just physical defence poses but also other ways of avoiding an attack: how to yell, how to prevent freezing up, how to employ the element of surprise, to use reasoning — even humour — to stop an attack in a street or at home, or harassment anywhere.

And according to WBN’s current president, Theresa Foley of Showplace Peterborough, the “woman” aspect of the organization may be hard to describe, but everyone who attends feels its worth.

Theresa Foley, President of Women's Business Network of Peterborough, addressing the crowd at the October meeting of the Women's Business Network of Peterborough (photo courtesy of WBN)
Theresa Foley, President of Women’s Business Network of Peterborough, addressing the crowd at the October meeting of the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough (photo courtesy of WBN)
“It’s not a surprise that women think differently and do business differently,” she says. “We’re more relationship oriented. Our speakers speak more to us as women in business. There’s a different temperature in the room. We enjoy that social aspect.”

Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey estimates there were almost one million self-employed women in Canada in 2012; more than one-third of the self-employed workforce was female. That number is on the rise (in 2008, the number of self-employed women was considerably lower).

With its 175 members, WBN is the ideal way for women — self-employed or otherwise — to share their business expertise while promoting their businessess. But most importantly, it allows women to build invaluable business relationships.

“WBN is not so much about getting business as building relationship,” Foley says. “Like the dog wagging the tail, you should be building relationship so they understand who you are and feel your integrity, so they are then happy buying from you because they know who you are. You can bang on doors and make it a numbers game — and you might be disappointed in your results — or you can build relationship.”

Denise Travers of Sun Life Financial receiving the 2014-15 WBN Member of the Year Award from award founder Maureen Tavener (photo courtesy of WBN)
Denise Travers of Sun Life Financial receiving the 2014-15 WBN Member of the Year Award from award founder Maureen Tavener (photo courtesy of WBN)
Foley is the first to admit the idea of building relationships can be intimidating, especially for a new member who doesn’t know anyone.

That’s why Foley is pleased the WBN began offering an expanded guest program last year, so that guests can attend as often as they like without buying a membership. She says the guest rate has risen because of it.

While not all decide to join WBN, Foley says there’s no doubt in her mind that guests attending a meeting realize the added value a membership offers.

Benefits include the opportunity to write a 60-word blurb about their business for the WBN newsletter (which also circulates to members of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce), the chance to include a blog in the newsletter, having access to the email addresses of all members for targeted advertising, and spotlighting their business at a monthly meeting. A full list of membership benefits is available on the WBN website at www.womensbusinessnetwork.ca.

For those who find the membership fee a challenge, there are options for half-year memberships as well as payment arrangements.

“If you spend $400 or $500 on a half-page newspaper ad, there’s your membership in the WBN,” Foley says. “If you instead spend that money on a one-year membership and take advantage of the benefits, you are more likely to increase your return on investment.”

Karen Laws of The Ontario Dog Trainer, Monika Carmichael of Trent Valley Honda, and past WBN president and Member of the Year Cheri Anderson at a recent WBN meeting (photo courtesy of WBN)
Karen Laws of The Ontario Dog Trainer, Monika Carmichael of Trent Valley Honda, and past WBN president and Member of the Year Cheri Anderson at a recent WBN meeting (photo courtesy of WBN)
Monika Carmichael, General Manager of Trent Valley Honda who has been a WBN member since 2010, concurs.

“We hear about how sales is about who you know, but it truly is about who knows you,” Carmichael says. “But it’s not just about sales: it’s about integrity, relationship, shared interests, motivation, support, and growing as women in business.”

Howe, who is just starting to enjoy her membership benefits, has this advice for other women considering WBN membership:

“I would say go to one meeting as a guest, and decide from there. You’ll be amazed at how much knowledge there is in the room.”


Meet the 2015-2016 WBN Board of Directors

Theresa Foley, President / Box Office Manager, Showplace Performance Centre
Theresa Foley, President
Box Office Manager, Showplace Performance Centre
Gwyneth James, Past President / Cody & James Certified General Accountants
Gwyneth James, Past President
Cody & James Certified General Accountants
Andrea McLeod, Treasurer  / Accounting Manager, Sysco Central Ontario
Andrea McLeod, Treasurer
Accounting Manager, Sysco Central Ontario
Mary McGee, Corporate Secretary / President/CEO, Little Lake Cemetery Co. & Highland Park Funeral Centre
Mary McGee, Corporate Secretary
President/CEO, Little Lake Cemetery Co. & Highland Park Funeral Centre
Louise Racine. Program DirectorOwner, Thirteen Moons Wellness / Network marketing professional, Arbonne International Inc.
Louise Racine, Program Director
Owner, Thirteen Moons Wellness / Network marketing professional, Arbonne International Inc.
Denise Travers, Program Director / Financial Advisor Assistant, Sun Life Financial
Denise Travers, Program Director
Financial Advisor Assistant, Sun Life Financial
Glenda Vandermeulen, Membership Director / Educational/Learning Strategy Assistant / Co-founder, Vandermeulen Plumbing Ltd.
Glenda Vandermeulen, Membership Director
Educational/Learning Strategy Assistant
Co-founder, Vandermeulen Plumbing Ltd.
Lorie Gill, External Communications Director / Internet Marketing Consultant/Content Liaison/Social Media Strategist, GILL Solutions Management
Lorie Gill, External Communications Director
Internet Marketing Consultant/Content Liaison/Social Media Strategist, GILL Solutions Management
Emily Martin, Member Communications / Marketing & Administrative Manager, Showplace Performance Centre
Emily Martin, Member Communications
Marketing & Administrative Manager, Showplace Performance Centre
Louise Shea, Director At Large / Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant/Employer Liaison, Northern Lights Canada
Louise Shea, Director At Large
Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant/Employer Liaison, Northern Lights Canada
Colleen Carruthers, Director At Large / Partner, T-R Group Inc. / Registered Psychotherapist, Growing Edge
Colleen Carruthers, Director At Large
Partner, T-R Group Inc.
Registered Psychotherapist, Growing Edge
Catia Skinner, Strategic Planning Director / CEO, Kawartha Entertainment Group Inc. (The Venue and Dolcé Vita)
Catia Skinner, Strategic Planning Director
CEO, Kawartha Entertainment Group Inc. (The Venue and Dolcé Vita)

Previous articleNew location of Health Unit in downtown Peterborough opens November 23
Next articleLocal stars will enchant you at the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra
Jeanne Pengelly
Jeanne Pengelly is a television and radio news journalist with a Master's Degree in Journalism. Even before she got her first typewriter at age 12, she had decided she would be a writer. Highlights of her career include founding the McMaster University creative writing journal, living in a remote northern community on James Bay where she edited a newspaper and trained young television journalists, and being a non-fiction nominee for the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association. Jeanne's many interests include creative writing, photography, music, teaching, needlecrafts, fitness, and golf. You can follow Jeanne on Twitter @JeannePengelly.

Comments