The online members page of a business networking group gives a face to the diverse palette that is Red Deer’s entrepreneurial community.
Hopeful upstarts and seasoned vets from different backgrounds and age groups all state their business and interests in one-paragraph introductions of the Red Deer Business Networking Group.
“Two years ago I made my dream of a studio of my own come true!” reads one intro from a yoga studio owner in Red Deer.
“My business is called Growing Like a Weed. It is a children’s and maternity resale (consignment) boutique. So far I am loving every minute of it!” says another.
This optimism and excitement has seen the group’s membership swell to nearly 200 members in its first year.
One of the founders of the networking group said its success has also come from experienced business owners, who are joining with hopes of staying sharp in an ever-changing world of enterprise.
“Some of us that have been in business for awhile start making shortcuts on the shortcuts, and it leads to nothing but trouble,” said Jerry Anderson, owner of Jass Collectibles, a hobby shop on Ross Street.
Anderson helped launch the group last spring with two other local small business owners, Dale Moffitt and Wendy Madden.
He said around half of the members attend nearly every event and meeting they host, while the remaining members pop in when work or family commitments permit.
Each monthly meeting (hosted at the Holiday Inn on 67th Street) starts with a brief introduction by each member, followed by three to five pre-selected members giving short presentations on their businesses.
Anderson said there is usually an open networking element to each meeting, where members get to mingle and talk shop.
Often, guest speakers from the business community are brought in, such as last month, when Red Deer College vice-president Michael Donlevy discussed how business is conducted between the college and businesses in the community.
Membership to the Red Deer Business Networking Group is free and meetings cost $10 to attend, which covers the cost of the facility, coffee, snacks and administrative fees.
Anderson said the money left over from the last year of group meetings and member donations (nearly $2,000) was recently given to Family Services of Central Alberta.
“We make our living and support our families from the community, so we want the community to know who we are and that when we can, we will give back,” Anderson said.
The Red Deer Business Networking Group is celebrating its one-year anniversary by hosting a trade show at Westerner Park’s Prairie Pavilion on Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Members will have a chance to shake hands with their public and exhibit their wares.
Johnson said the solid foundation his group has established will hopefully continue to grow, and he is proud of the ethical standard his members are instilling in each other and Red Deer’s consumers.
“We’ve all got money to make and whatnot, but we have to make sure things aren’t being done that hurt the consumer or other businesses,” Anderson said.
“A group like this helps keep everyone on track.”