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Operator, entrepreneur, and champion networker Carrie Peele struck a successful chord in her home town of Raleigh, N.C. with a ladies power lunch that emphasizes B2B networking, shopping and bonding, and most importantly, a heartfelt devotion to an important cause.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Triangle Ladies Power Lunch has become the “place to be” for successful women in Raleigh. Born out of a desire to provide busy female executives with opportunities to network and socialize, the Power Lunch brings together women from every walk of life and every industry division.
It was a conversation with Kristina Bouweiri of Reston Limousine that really got me going. Once I traveled to Sterling, Va. in February 2010 and saw the fabulous event Kristina had created, I knew I wanted to bring such an event to the ladies in the Triangle. It was classy and fun, elegant and sassy. I was so inspired by Kristina and what she had done that I had to get started right away.
The Makings of Power
On my drive back from Sterling, I developed the entire plan for an event for North Carolina’s capital city. By the time I arrived back in Raleigh, I was ready to roll the dice on the Triangle Ladies Power Lunch. Given my outgoing nature, I got on the phone immediately.
I knew I wanted the best speakers and attendees to make it powerful. But I also knew that we had to include the “shopping hour” — that seemed to be a major selling point for Kristina. Within a month, I had contacted and secured the first six speakers, 20 excited vendors, and 40 willing participants. By the time the inaugural Triangle Ladies Power Lunch debuted, there were 120 thrilled attendees.
The format was the key to success in my mind. I wanted the event to be an experience that promoted professional alliances and personal enlightenment. I created a large vendor area — one that was designed to encourage attendees to shop. From novelty pastry delicacies to performing arts tickets, the shopping area was a cornerstone of the event. Since the luncheon’s inception, I have transformed the vendor area into a grouping of the elite organizations in the Triangle, making certain that my attendees never think that they have “seen it all.”
Upon entering the ballroom, attendees are surprised every month. Through changes in decoration and floral arrangements, my staff and I ensure that no two luncheons are the same. We’ve all been to monthly meetings that begin to feel like “cookie-cutter events.” I didn’t want that. These women are giving us two hours of their busy day every month. We have to give them our best each time.
The most exciting, and by far the loudest time of the luncheon, is when door prizes are being given away. In the last nine months, a quasi-competition has started among the vendors on who has the best door prizes. Attendees are now calling out their own names, and even “threatening” to steal from their friends when the winners are announced. With everything from diamond earrings to exclusive concert tickets, there is never a shortage of exceptional gifts.
My photographer has told me that the door prize time is the most fun for her to watch. Trying to capture the expressions of the ladies when they win is something she always looks forward to.