Last year was a challenging one for many of our members at Forward Ladies and for businesses generally. During such difficult trading times, we believe you have to look at things more creatively, so it gave us the opportunity to look differently at how we help members to cope with the downturn in the economy and take something positive from the challenges they face.
We pride ourselves on being there for our members for the long haul – and that means supporting them through the not-so-good times.
As a result we are offering more training and professional development to help them learn new skills and reinforce those they already have. We have re-launched our free mentoring scheme and introduced a new information hub to help our members see the latest research, reviews, links to relevant articles in the media, and access valuable information which will help them take forward their businesses or careers. They can also blog and contribute tips and share helpful information with each other.
It is at times like these that Forward Ladies can really make a difference. We know that networking can help our members by gaining new contacts, but our members are also very good at supporting each other, since many of them are facing the same issues, or have already overcome them.
We have also introduced special offers to encourage our members to stay with us during difficult times. Any Forward Lady who recommends a new member will receive a £5 Marks and Spencer’s voucher, and any member attending nine paid-for events will get a tenth one – to the value of £25 -free. We have also introduced free webinars with top quality international trainers for those members who are unable to get to events, although there is a charge for non-members.
We have also launched our first marketing campaign, to differentiate our organisation from other networks. The company will be using a mix of social media platforms, printed materials, member incentives and PR to encourage membership and involvement. Of course we recognise that there are a number of organisations which offer business support, but we believe that Forward Ladies offers something different in that we work with all professional women, and there is no pressure for them to deliver anything they don’t feel comfortable doing. We are a very inclusive organisation – members are welcome from all walks of life, whatever their position and whatever their salary.
“The success of the organisation is because the appeal is universal. “It’s not an elite organisation where you have to be invited to join, and no-one need feel that their own small business is not valid;” said Etta. “Forward Ladies reflects the dynamic and diverse interests of our members, which are many and varied.”
There are also opportunities to join the Forward Ladies team as a licensee. Last year saw the successful launch of the organisation in Scotland, with businesswoman Jackie Waring running events in Dunfermline, Glenrothes, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Plans are now in place to launch in London in the spring, while other areas throughout the Midlands and South are available.
Nearer the home base in Yorkshire, Angie Khupe, a Zimbabwean businesswoman, will be working with black and minority ethnic businesswoman to break down community and social barriers to encourage them to join Forward Ladies. She felt that opportunities were limited through lack of knowledge and cultural issues, and is enthusiastic about spreading the word that there is help for all women.
We are confident about the future because we believe there is a huge need for an organisation such as Forward Ladies, and we are looking forward to working with new licensees and members this year.
Quotes from some of our members
“Forward Ladies is very affordable to join, and the events are always high quality at relatively low cost”
“Being a member of Forward Ladies has attracted significant opportunities to acquire clients.”