The Power of Networking: How 4 CEDIA Members Bond Over Common Biz Issues

Four business co-owners who met at CEDIA created a networking group to share ideas about human resources, operations and financial management.

PAVE members shared advice at the recent CEDIA Expo. (From left) Valerie Johnson, Lynda Polk, Kassa Harrison, Vanja Thompson talk regularly as a small networking group.
LeslieShiner · November 26, 2013

Several years ago, at a CEDIA Expo, several women met at an educational class. Little did they know that this chance meeting would turn into a long-term, productive relationship. They discovered that each was not only a spouse of an integrator, but all were an equal partner in the business.

They decided to form a group and name it PAVE – Partners of AV Entrepreneurs.

The members of this group are Kassa Harrison of Harrison Home Systems, Lynda Polk of Audio Video Guys, Valerie Johnson of UltraMedia, and Vanja Thompson of David Vincent Design.

Each of the members performs different functions in their respective companies, including design, human resources, production management, and financial oversight. But each shares the common goal to improve the processes and profitability of their companies, along with the special challenges of running a business with your significant other.

The group does not have a formal structure, but participants simply meet by emails. As Thompson says, “Sometimes we go months without contact, but sometimes the emails fly fast and furious.”

When they are concerned about an issue within their company, they reach out to each other for advice and recommendations.

Consider reaching out to another integrator who has a business similar to yours to see if you can create your own private networking group.—Leslie Shiner

This type of networking can be a valuable resource.

“It is a unique opportunity for me to have the ability to reach out to others who understand my business and my concerns,” said Polk. “While I know I can hire outside consultants like lawyers or accountants, being able to talk to someone who understands just what I’m going through is priceless.”

One of the advantages of the group is that they are all from different areas of the country and are not geographically competitive. The group remains small by design.

Harrison says, “With having just our four members, we’ve gotten to know each others’ businesses and have been able to help each other out.”

They feel very comfortable sharing their issues and concerns and have become good friends also.

This last CEDIA Expo was a treat – all four members were able to attend, something that does not happen on an annual basis. Each company participated in the CEDIA Benchmarking Survey and all attended the Benchmarking review class. They were even able to meet for dinner and had a wonderful time connecting in person.

“I feel so lucky to be part of the group of very strong, intelligent and dedicated women and know that we have all made our businesses better by being able to connect with each other,” says Johnson.

This type of informal, unofficial networking group can be a great benefit. Consider reaching out to another integrator who has a business similar to yours to see if you can create your own private networking group. Keep it small, without a great time commitment.

It was merely a coincidence that this group happens to be comprised of women but they all had something in common—a spouse who is a business co-owner. Groups can be created around any shared interest.

Sometimes just being able to talk (or rant) to someone who understands, when you want to share a tip or have a problem, can go a long way to helping you and your company. After all, no one really “gets” you and your business like your peers.

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