Build Relationships in North Georgia
Living in one of the small, rural towns of Southern Appalachia doesn’t always make it easy to network beyond immediate circles. That’s why a luncheon hosted by Montefino magazine this past summer was such a boon to Selina Victoria, a Blairsville, Georgia, resident currently working on a graduate degree in education through an online program at Grand Canyon University.
In August, Brother’s at Willow Ranch in Young Harris, Georgia, was host to roughly 40 women, all professional, and all invited to attend the Women in Business Luncheon with the theme “Raising the Professional Bar.” Victoria, who was one of the younger attendees and newly graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and public policy from Young Harris College, noted the luncheon cemented in her mind that women can be just as successful as men. “I was excited about meeting women who have been really successful and who have accomplished a lot in their life,” she said. “It was really awesome to get to go around and meet all these inspired women.”
Reaching a younger demographic was one of Belinda Anguelo’s goals when she dreamed up the idea for the event. Anguelo, Montefino’s editor in chief, focused on entrepreneurs and women in business with the objective of uniting women at the start of their careers with seasoned professionals. “These young women may not have an idea of what they want to do but just need a little mentoring,” she said. “It ended up being a really colorful luncheon. It was inspirational in many ways.”
Cathy Cox, president of Young Harris College and the guest speaker at the luncheon, has observed women in political and business leadership positions for more than 30 years and focused on encouraging women to realize their full potential during her speech. “Women often need a little nudging and encouragement—perhaps more so than some men—to jump out there in pursuit of leadership positions, and groups like this can offer that kind of supportive environment to help a lot of exceptionally capable women do so much more, for themselves, for their families and their businesses, and for our community,” she said. While many of the local communities have groups targeted at the large retirement population, there aren’t really any designed to support the working woman, she added.
Also in attendance was Regina Allison, president and CEO of the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce. She’s an experienced networker and noted that building relationships is a key element to networking and success. “I think for me, what was a blessing, there was a young lady who I invited to the event and I think she came out of it really excited,” Allison said.
Although coming from small towns meant many women knew each other already, Anguelo made sure to try and seat attendees with newer, less familiar faces and intermingle young and experienced women to encourage networking. She also didn’t include professional titles on the place cards to help make interactions more personal and less intimidating for the younger attendees. “The one thing we knew we had in common was we were all women, all working women, all women in business, and we were all there to be open minded and learn,” she said.
The success of this first Women in Business event was part of Montefino’s philanthropy contributions and has inspired more. Montefino is launching the Influential Modern Women’s Network to provide a fresh new platform for inspiring and building up women. In early 2017, Montefino will make public a new website for the network, and in summer 2017, it will host the first women's conference geared at lifting up women, an event that will be open to all women in all professions.
Moving forward, Anguelo said she hopes this platform will help young women transition into more successful professional lives and provide an exciting way for influential women to give back. To know that the Women in Business event inspired and made young guests excited is validating, Anguelo added. “We aspire to create something that makes a difference and it feels great and a privilege to have our magazine lead the way.”