How San Antonio Puts Relationships First | Page 2 | NAWBO

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How San Antonio Puts Relationships First

 

As every business owner knows, relationships matter. They can be the connection to your biggest client, a mentor to guide you through a challenge, or a friend who understands what you’re going through. Relationships are also a key reason why members are flocking to and sticking with the NAWBO San Antonio chapter.

With 115 members today, NAWBO-San Antonio is a celebration of diversity—in experience and age (with members from 23-76 years old). Yet, as San Antonio Chapter President Cece Smith notes, all the members share a common desire to support each other. “When you get a group of women like this together, it’s about advocacy and making each other better and growing businesses and relationships,” she says. “There’s an air of transparency and authenticity. We all understand how difficult it is to be a woman business owner and we truly have a desire to lift each other up.”

As one of our recent Fall Membership Drive winners, the San Antonio chapter is also dedicated to recruiting and retaining members who share a passion for supporting women business owners. A membership committee, led by Therese Troyer, spearheads luncheons, meetings, orientations and outreach efforts to connect with women who are interested in NAWBO. The chapter’s administrator, Graciela Urruchúa, is also instrumental in communicating with prospective and existing members to encourage participation. What’s more, the chapter and their marketing chair, Liz Papagni, recently updated their marketing materials and website to be consistent with the NAWBO national branding, giving it a fresh, clean look.

Cece also makes a commitment to meet each interested woman individually as president of the chapter. “The goal there is to find out what they’re expecting from joining NAWBO. We talk about what NAWBO is and what they’re looking for and then I try to connect them with someone who is a member and/or chairperson,” she says.

She points out that it makes it more of a personal experience for members and encourages participation and involvement. In the same vein, the chapter also hosts monthly cocktail or coffee connections for member networking and monthly programming that is focused on educating members on issues like legislation that may affect their businesses. That consistent programming has been helpful in retaining members and keeping participation levels high. “People know that once a month, there’s something to connect back to,” Cece says.

The chapter also leads a non-profit organization called Entrepreneurial Connections that supports junior and senior high school girls who are interested in possibly starting their own business someday. NAWBO-San Antonio members work one-on-one with the girls to teach basic things, like how to introduce yourself, and more complex tasks, like how to develop a business plan. Business plans are submitted and judged to receive scholarships of up to 10 thousand dollars toward education. In this way, the chapter is investing in the education of potential future women business owners—and NAWBO members! They also host Mentoring Mondays programs and have a strong connection to their local community, partners and affiliates.

For Cece and many members, the NAWBO San Antonio chapter represents something bigger than a network of business owners, which is why she feels it’s so important to be involved today. “It helps me understand more about how laws and our government affect the business community. It also helps me understand that there’s support out there and this is an incredible network of people,” she says. “NAWBO for me was the first time I ever joined an organization strictly for me––and that is rare for women. It was the first time I was investing in myself.”

          

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