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5:37 AM Wed, Nov. 21st

Women entrepreneurs exchange ideas, offer support

Tamara Sone/The Daily Courier<br>
Sheila Savannah Steinborn, a member of the Girls G.O.T. Prescott group, standing, chats with other female entrepreneurs during an event on Sunday at the Raven Café. The group consists of 94 female entrepreneurs that meet to exchange business ideas, network, share goals, and offer support to one another.

Tamara Sone/The Daily Courier<br> Sheila Savannah Steinborn, a member of the Girls G.O.T. Prescott group, standing, chats with other female entrepreneurs during an event on Sunday at the Raven Café. The group consists of 94 female entrepreneurs that meet to exchange business ideas, network, share goals, and offer support to one another.

PRESCOTT - A local group of women are putting a new spin on "girl power" through a meetup group.

The Girls G.O.T. Prescott is a group of 94 female entrepreneurs who meet to exchange business ideas, network, share goals, and offer support to one another, group organizer Melanie Banayat said.

Banayat founded the group nearly a year ago after realizing that traditional networking mixers just weren't providing the results she was looking for.

"The last networking group I belonged to I was with them for a year-and-a-half, and after that year-and-a-half, I hardly knew anybody and anybody hardly knew me," Banayat said. "You stand up; you sit down; you give your 30-second commercial and pass out business cards. But you don't get to know anyone."

The first Sunday of each month the group hosts an "Unmeet Up" at the Raven Café for group members. Seated at tables of four, women entrepreneurs conduct a self-guided conversation on thoughts, beliefs and feelings surrounding their business and/or personal lives. Topics can include how to utilize social media, time management strategies, or even how to take the first step towards starting your own business.

"I realized there was this disconnect of women helping each other out," Banayat said. "So I decided to do this 'unmeet up' where women can get together and say, 'here's where I'm, stuck, you got any ideas?'" Banayat said. "These women are so amazing and have so many ideas. And when we all get together, it's very powerful."

The group consists of a variety of female business owners ranging from artists and health coaches to website developers and tribal belly dance teachers. There's no limit to the number of women entrepreneurs who can join the group. The group is open to any female entrepreneurs in the Quad-City area. Banayat asks each group member for an $8 donation to help cover the cost of printing nametags, business cards and Meetup.com fees.

"I think there's more feeling of camaraderie and wanting to nurture each other versus hitting the bell and moving on to the next business person and sharing business cards," group member Karen Price said. "We garner relationships from this group that I think last."

But it's not all about business, Banayat said. Because many entrepreneurs are workaholics, spending countless hours at the office, the group allows group members the opportunity to get together with other like-minded women for social events.

"We do everything from going to the movies together to kayaking and going to wine-tasting festivals," Banayat said. "Just a couple of weeks ago we had a painting party. We do a huge array of things."

"That's where we make all these amazing connections," she added.

Many of these connections have resulted in women partnering up and cross-promoting their businesses, Banayat said.

"I really had a marvelous time at my very first meeting and some of the things the ladies have said have stuck with me," newbie member Sheila Savannah Steinborn said. "One comment was why am I harsher on myself than I am on other people, and that really has stuck with me all month."

For more information on Girls G.O.T. Prescott, visit www.meetup.com/Girls-G-O-T-Prescott/about.

Follow Tamara Sone on Twitter @PDCtsone