After religiously attending GroYourBiz board meetings for over two years, a light bulb went off this past summer. Or, for those of you who are young enough to remember the 1977 popular commercial it was my-aha moment, I should’ve had a V8®

Carefully note the use of the registered trademark symbol. I worked in the IBM legal department and recall the odd law suit or two, or three. Perish the thought if the simple omission led to a letter from Campbell’s legal department to our fearless leader, Barbara Mowat and her imprisonment. She wouldn’t be able to host the EXCELerate 2017 conference – solely, because I neglected to submit the blog with the “R” symbol. Working in “legal” as we called it, was one of the 19 different jobs that I had during my 18 years at Big Blue. Yep. I was a lifer.  I learned many lessons that guide me today.

How and Why I Became a Member

In April 2014, I joined the Markham (Ontario) board as a founding member. To be honest, I only joined because Yang-Hai Wang whom I had worked with in the IBM small business division from 1998-2000 was the chair. I hadn’t seen her in 10 years; she reached out to me after reading my LinkedIn profile.

We spoke a few times, I kept telling her that I don’t join networking groups. She kept asking me to come to the meeting. I kept repeating, I don’t need to network because I’m on page one of Google for all of my keywords i.e. small business marketing Toronto.

Actually I said, “…the money would be better spent on a massage at the spa to relax after giving soooooo many free consultations(*) because I’m on page one.”

Any marketer with her grain of salt knows the value of an asterisk appropriately placed in the copy. Not the mice type, i.e. the legalize section that is too small to read, but keeps the lawyers happy.

She cajoled me to attend the meeting, finally I said yes. I had the wrong start time. HINT: subject lines with the date and time are helpful for everyone not just me as I sometimes misread the details in the email. I got lost, couldn’t find the elevator bank in BMO’s underground parking, arrived at the end of the launch meeting when the food was practically gone.

Yang-Hai tried to show me a few slides on her laptop, I displayed no interest, and kept saying no I was not interested. Yep. I intentionally used a double-negative to make an impact, perhaps influenced by the name of Barb’s Impact Communications firm. It was Yang-Hai’s personal mission trying to passionately convince me that GroYourBiz was not a networking group, but a peer advisory board.

I was introduced to Marg Hachey, Ontario and Eastern Region Chair. Her reputation as a successful women-owned business, a Canadian entrepreneur was well known. I was impressed that she was on the team. I asked Marg if there was a directory listing of members; a backlink to my website was a criterion for membership. Yes, there is a members’ roster. Link juice i.e. SEO is important to me. I want to keep my place on page one, of you know where.

In my quiet, demure way, I asked the cost of membership to Yang-Hai, and said if this organization was smart, they would offer a discount for a prepaid annual membership. (Yep. I was IBM’s #1 sales rep worldwide in 1996 in my division; incentives are important and drive sales.) She walked away, shaking her head, ready to speak with another prospective member.

As a small business owner, I missed the corporate, professionally run meetings which included an agenda, goals, and objectives. Taking advantage of the discount, I shocked the heck out of Yang-Hai when I wrote a cheque right on the spot. I was the first paid member. The truth be known, I had already decided to join as I had read every page on the GroYourBiz site and understood the value clearly.

Markham Board – April 2014

Although the members were great as were our two chairs firstly Yang-Hai and then Hilda Gan, I didn’t relish the challenge to arrive on-time for 6:00 p.m.  Anyone who knows me understands that I’m not just height but punctually challenged as well. At the best of times, I’m neither a great driver nor good parker – my eagle eyes can identify a drive through parking space up to 100 feet away, but on the highway, in the height of rush hour in sleet or snow? In regular traffic it was a quick 30-minute drive.

In May 2015, I chose to take “the better way”, a tagline used by the TTC, Toronto’s subway system, and moved downtown to board #4.

Good-bye Markham Board. Hello Toronto Board.

Marg Hachey is our chair; she generously shares her profound wisdom, on a level of depth and plethora of topics.  What’s great is that she always greets me and everyone with a hug at each meeting, but only if you arrive on time. As a marketer, I know that marketing is a drumbeat, it’s not a one of action; in this case, her acumen took a few meetings, okay almost 11 months to resonate, i.e. kick-in.

The following are four tips from the marketing gal (that’s me) on Board 4:

1. Red flags in the initial free marketing consultation should be embraced, not ignored.

2. Define your ideal client.

     (*) When you clearly know who they are, you won’t need to provide lengthy consultations.

3. Create a checklist of who is NOT your ideal client. Use it to evaluate prospective clients.

4. Trust your gut. This past summer, I decided to trust mine, now I tell clients if they are my ideal client during the consultation. It works, I’m closing more sales leads; my ideal client.

Wishy-washy women (if they were men, we’d call them slow decision makers) and alpha males are a couple of the flags on my checklist; but I’m not ready to open the kimono fully in this blog 🙂

See HERE for Part 2: The Ah-ha Moment!


web-lgMaureen McCabe (GroYourBiz, Toronto). The McCabe Marketing team works with established business owners to create and manage successful marketing projects that generate more sales leads. How do you attract more customers? With a marketing strategy and Marketing Action Roadmap™ that work.  Maureen invites you to signup for Profit Boosting Marketing Tips. Check out her Marketing Checkup video.