Who you might meet at AZEC10
One day, during my tenure as CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association, my friend Ben Smith at Lavidge and I were chatting about how to better connect with business owners across Arizona. One of Ben’s suggestions was to meet “Gelie”. [ghel-ee] According to Ben she was a networking powerhouse. So meet her I did.
Fast forward a few years, and today Gelie runs NetworkingPhoenix.com Arizona’s largest business networking organization. And they have grown to that position in only TWO YEARS. As a matter of fact, NetworkingPhoenix.com celebrated its second birthday on October 1st and is now the state’s largest networking organization with over 12,000 members.
This year OTEF, the host organization for AZEC10 has teamed up with Gelie and the team at NetworkingPhoenix.com to spread the word across the community about all the great speakers and business owners that will be coming to the conference on November 17, 2010. (If you have not registered yet you can do so here.)
AZEC is about sharing ideas, connecting great people, and growing our businesses. Since this also is exactly how Gelie built her business, I decided to ask her a few questions.
JKW: Why did you create NetworkingPhoenix.com?
Gelie: When I first started networking, about 3 years ago, I quickly realized that there was a big gap in the market. There is a big networking community in Phoenix, but it was extremely segregated and there wasn’t a central place where networkers could come together to get information on events. I would try to plan out my networking strategy for the month and it was nearly impossible because I would find out about events the day before or after they had already happened. As a hobby, I created a calendar to share with all my ‘networking friends’ and the rest is history.
JKW: The theme of AZEC10 is The Great Reset. Did you ever get stuck? What was your “reset” ?
I feel like I get ‘stuck’ all the time because there is so much going on at once, it gets difficult to prioritize and figure out which projects to focus on at the moment. And even when I do prioritize, I get pulled off the projects that need my time for various uncontrollable reasons. My ‘reset’ is to take a step back, ‘clear off my desk’ so to speak and start over. I will literally take 3 giant post-it posters and markers and will color code my projects, action items, etc. I try to do this at least every 30 days so I can keep myself on track with the bigger projects that we’re working on. Each post-it has different information on it to keep me organized.
JKW: How has NetworkingPhoenix.com grown since birth?
Gelie: NetworkingPhoenix.com has evolved in a number of ways. For one…we are already on our third version of the site. I’m sure as the years go by, the look and feel will keep getting updated. We also offer many more tools to our members, such as the Networking Passport membership. Once our members sign up for this program, they can attend many of the other group’s events for free. This program is very popular and we are constantly evolving it to keep adding value for our members. For me this is a total labor of love and 100% feels like I’m raising a child. I always tell people that I feel like I have a 2 year old at home. I can definitely leave it for a while with a babysitter…but it still needs its mommy.
JKW: Your company has has some amazing growth in 2 years. Who helped you along the growth path?
Gelie: I was extremely lucky to have worked with the Lucky Napkin team when I first quit my day job. By working with successful entrepreneurs, I got to learn invaluable lessons about taking an idea and turning it into reality and then a successful business. I learned more during that time than I knew what to do with and many of the lessons are still surfacing daily. I’ve also been very fortunate to have the support of the entire Phoenix business community. There would be way too many groups and individuals to list here, but the support has been overwhelming and I’m thankful for it because my core purpose has always been to unite people.
JKW: What do you plan to achieve by NetworkingPhoenix.com’s NEXT birthday?
Gelie: Oh-oh…I’m afraid to answer this one! I think next year is going to be about growth, but also about putting padding on the ‘skeleton’ that we have already built out. I’d really like to add more value to our quarterly Signature Events as well as fully build out the Networking Passport program. Both of these tasks will require a tremendous amount of time and energy, so if I can accomplish those two goals, I will be very pleased!
JKW: WHY did you choose to support OTEF and AZEC10? Why will you be there?
Gelie: We are really excited about participating with AZEC10 because it’s a great event that supports a great foundation. From an educational stand point, the speakers that come out to this conference are fantastic and from a promotional stand point, we are always trying to get in front of different circles in the business community. This will give us a great opportunity to support OTEF, get some more tips on how to ‘reset’ and get in front of people.
JKW: And knowing Gelie, that’s exactly what she will be doing. Sharing ideas, making new contacts, and finding new ways to build her business to even greater heights before its third birthday.
I hope you enjoyed “meeting” Gelie. She is a great example of the people YOU can meet at AZEC10. Between now and November 17th will be sharing more looks behind the scenes at the conference – and don’t forget to register before October 16th to get the $25 early bird discount.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…
Chairman of the Board of OTEF, the host organization for AZEC10.com