Networking Magic In ActionNetworking Magic In Action
The Hubbel Group was a loosely knit, grass-roots women's group that sprung to life in Spokane, Washington and which enjoyed a remarkably productive five-year run. In that time, it enriched many women's lives and profoundly changed the community.
In 1997, Julia Hubbel's world collapsed: she lost her job, lost her land, got divorced, and ended up living in Spokane, Washington, with few friends, contacts, or prospects. Plus, her health was a serious mess. Desperate for work, she joined every organization, networked like mad, and sent out 400 resumes. She got one interview, but not the job. She filed for bankruptcy and lost her house, car, credit rating, career, her dogs, and her self- respect-everything but her gumption.
While Hubbel's life was falling apart, the seeds of her networking started to sprout. In her travels, she met wonderful women who were at the top of their fields: entrepreneurs, community leaders, senior regional directors, executive vice presidents, artists, writers, dancers, and university professors. Through her networking efforts, Hubbel realized that these women needed to meet each other and form a support group and that she could make it happen.
Hubbel scheduled lunch with one of the women and was so impressed that she couldn't wait to introduce her to other women she had been getting to know. The next time they met for lunch, a third woman joined them and "it was overwhelming." By the fourth lunch, nine women showed up, all handpicked from Hubbel's growing list of friends/contacts. None knew each other, but they instantly liked, respected, and realized that they needed each other. So, they agreed to meet regularly.
Within three years, the group grew to sixty members, with a core group of about sixteen who were the most active. In between meetings, Hubbel networked to recruit potential members.
The group charged no dues; the only requirement was that the women show up and be totally present for the ninety-minute lunches held once a month. At meetings, the women went around the table and answered a set of questions, staying within a strict time frame in order to give everyone a turn.
At meetings, each woman:
In 2000, Julia Hubbel moved to Colorado to be close to her ailing mother. The group found another leader and continued to meet for another eighteen months. Since then, the friendships formed in the group have remained intact, but the group dissolved.
"The most important lesson I learned through The Hubbel Group," says Julia, "was that when I believed I had nothing to give, I discovered that I had everything to give. When I had hit rock-bottom and was facing living out of a cardboard box on the street in a city far from family and friends, I found a way to be of service. And through The Hubbel Group, I discovered that when everything else is stripped away, all the trappings of power and influence that we believe that are so powerful, all people really want from us is to be acknowledged and valued. By providing that to these powerful women, and by putting them together and helping to foment their relationships through celebration and storytelling, we changed much more than many women's lives. We helped change the face of a community."
Excerpted with permission. ©2004 Rick Frishman, Jill Lublin and Mark Steisel.