Commercial connections: Ballarat Business Women welcome all ladies in enterprise, whether they’re self-employed, employees, contractors, senior executives, owners or directors. Photo: FILE

Give and gain at businesswomen’s network

April 20, 2021 BY

MARGI Cousins co-founded Ballarat Business Women in 2008 to close a gap, having seen a “room of grey suits” at each network event she attended.

“It was a male-dominated space, but as a senior executive required to work in business development, growth, networking and marketing to get a brand out, I was sometimes the only female in the room,” she said.

“We realised that there were a great many women at that point breaking into the same roles with no idea how to, and it takes a great deal of confidence to step out when you’re starting out.

“We launched Ballarat Business Women to nurture, mentor and grow women in business, and give them the opportunities to learn in a user-friendly atmosphere, and it worked.”

Now driving more memberships, Ms Cousins has been chair of the registered not-for-profit for all but one of its 13 years, and is encouraging women to connect.

With at least 700 people on their mailing list, she said the group “crosses every spectrum” of enterprise.

“From self-employed women, to contractors, senior executives, owners and directors. From makeup artists to massage therapists… We don’t discriminate, and you could even be retired and a member.

“They hold so many skills, have so much to offer, and we recognise that sometimes there’s a void when working women retire. The generosity of people in that space is incredible,” she said.

“We’re actively seeking new members to bring that additional skillset. Anybody can come along, everybody has something to offer and it’s valued.”

Hosting functions to meet the needs of as many members as possible, the network has regular breakfasts, morning teas, lunches, after work drinks, and now virtual events.

Ms Cousins said women may not see the group have an instant impact on their business, but they will notice the “ripple effect.”

“We give them the chance to promote themselves and what they do, the ripples in the pond go out, and then things start to happen.

“We’re generating a two-way street. It’s not just about what you get from the group, it’s about what you can contribute,” she said.

“Some form friendships with other members and use them as a sounding board for business issues, they brainstorm with each other, or vent, mentor and nurture each other.”

Ballarat Business Women are approached to offer a voice to regional development or local government issues.

The group is hosting an upcoming Mother’s Day networking event in May. Women are welcome to attend one or two events to see if the network suits them, before a membership is encouraged.

Visit ballaratbusinesswomen.net.au for more information on events and memberships, which are $65 per year.