WithIt Wrap-Up 2012

My year as WithIt’s president comes to a close…

It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year since I stepped into the presidency of WithIt. It’s been a journey filled with new friendships and life lessons and sweet successes to celebrate.

Withit Executive teamI’ve begun to think of my presidency like a song you hear on the radio for the first time. When I began in January, I stumbled across the lyrics, singing along but clearly missing a beat here and there. As the year wore on, I fell deeply in love with it, rocking along with the tune every chance I could. And as I finish my year, more and more people are falling in love with the song too, adding their voices to a tune that grows more beautiful each time I hear it.

Leading WithIt has been about listening, learning and matching my cadence to those around me while looking ahead and adding guidance. For me, leadership is about serving, not invoking massive, sweeping changes. It’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done – and one of the most rewarding.

WithIt 2012 Goal – Connect Our Communities

a community of leadersMy goals for my year as president revolved around connection. Celebrating our 15th anniversary this year, we needed a refreshed approach to connecting to each other, our sponsors and supporters. And we needed those connections to be face to face and digital – strong, sustainable pipelines across all channels.

I asked my WithIt Board of Directors to be fearless and to ask themselves where they wanted to be in December 2012. Here’s what they told me:

  • Increase membership from different sectors, such as bedding, hospitality and retail
  • Support more students participation as members and attendees to our national conference
  • Rebrand the WOW Awards, including a new location in Vegas, as an industry-wide event
  • Encourage more sponsorships to support leadership training seminars

With those lofty goals in mind, we built a tactical plan – all hands on deck and dedicated to making the organization stronger in 2012. Here’s what we did – together.

Drinks with the prez

Presidents Welcome at Red EggAt the start of each market in Vegas and High Point (4 markets) we held a “President’s Welcome” cocktail party. The first one in Vegas in January was off-market at Maestro’s Ocean Club. It was intimate and well attended by WithIt members and those familiar with the organization. Our last event for 2012 in October at High Point Market saw more than 100 people spilling into all the rooms and outside on the porch at Carol Gregg’s Red Egg showroom. Some were members, many were not – yet. The evening wrapped up with an offer from Furniture Brands to host an even larger event in April.

 

 

WithIt Friday Wrap-Up

This year, I added a message from the president to the weekly email sent our members and sponsors. My messages were written to inspire and inform but mostly they were from my heart, a way to help our members get to know their president better. Judging by the many emails I received over the year, it’s a connection point that resonates. One woman told me that she travels endlessly and my message on Fridays reminds her that there’s a community of supporters with her wherever she goes.

WithIt videos

To help our members see deeper into the organization, while giving them information about what others were working on or had achieved, I began a monthly video series on YouTube. The videos served as another way to connect with our members, sponsors and supporters. They gave the organization a face and helped spread our message further. Over the course of the year we produced 17 videos with more than 3,000 downloads.

Social media

While I managed the voice of WithIt on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn prior to my presidency, I knew engaging this year (from a time standpoint) would be challenging. To ensure WithIt’s voice was protected and sustainable as the organization grew, we created a new position on our board of directors: Vice President of Social Media. Dana Helms stepped into the position with dignity and poise. She has been a true inspiration to me and those she connects with daily online. Through her efforts, we’ve been able to connect with industry influencers such as Tobi Fairly and Kimberly Seldon, Kathy Ireland and Angelo Surmelis.

To date, this is what our growth looks like on social media:

Social Media Channel

2011

2012

Facebook

489

832

Twitter

982

2,500

LinkedIn

365

634

YouTube

986

3,369

New Website

It was clear to our board of directors in January that the WithIt website was a poor representation of the power of WithIt. We agreed to pour our energy and resources into building a new website this year to better serve our membership and to revitalize the face of WithIt online, incorporating our social media channels. In November, we unveiled the new website, thanks to Wray Ward and GooseDown Graphics for their hard work on this project with us.

Membership

the beauty of mentoringThanks to a monumental effort from Kassie Smith, our VP of the West Coast and former President’s Award winner, WithIt has a strong and growing presence in Vegas. Our gala birthday celebration in July set the stage for our WOW Awards in few weeks at World Market Center. Kathy Ireland, an internationally known and honored entrepreneur will be honored with a lifetime achievement award. Thank you Kassie and Kathy for honoring WithIt with your time, energy and passion.

In Canada, WithIt members have been steadily joining all year long. Thanks to Donna Barlett our VP of International Markets, we held a sold out event at TCHFM. Kimberly Seldon spoke to a crowd of 150 women in the Palliser showroom about the business of design and the power of a network like WithIt.

Over the course of 2012, 146 women joined WithIt across the US and Canada – a record number of new members in one year.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the women of WithIt during 2012 as president. I’ll be forever indebted for the friendships I’ve been graced with and the lessons I’ve learned. As I step into the Chairman position and begin to work more closely with our sponsors, I hope you’ll welcome WithIt’s new president, Betty Lyn Eller with open arms.

And if you’re not yet connected to WithIt, give me a call and I’ll be happy to hook you up. We’re always looking for strong, smart women (and men) in the home and furnishings industries to join us.

Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us at SocialNorth on Facebook or Twitter – We’re always on.

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