San Juan County group empowers businesswomen

Leigh Black Irvin
Believe, Give, Network hosts a "Little Black Dress" event on Thursday at Outback Steakhouse in Farmington. The evening gathering provides local businesswomen a chance to network.
  • Melissa Porch organized Believe, Give, Network last year as a way to connect with other businesswomen in San Juan County.
  • BGN hosts monthly coffee and lunch meetings, Friday night Facebook Live sessions and "Little Black Dress" evening gatherings.
  • Women in the group span all ages and work in realty, health care, coaching, the nonprofit sector and other fields.
  • About 20 local women attend Farmington BGN meetings, and there are now BGN groups in Alabama and Colorado.

FARMINGTON — San Juan County businesswomen are coming together to network in a new way.

Believe, Give, Network, or BGN, was formed by Melissa Porch, owner of a New York Life financial services practice based in Farmington. Porch created the group in September 2015 because she wanted to reach out to other businesswomen.

"I was going to other networking groups but not getting value back because they weren’t focused on women," she said. "So I talked to other women in business and discovered a new take on how to network. We all know the same people, but we just didn’t know how to connect."

Networking through BGN takes the form of monthly coffee and lunch meetings, Friday night Facebook Live sessions and "Little Black Dress" evening gatherings at local restaurants, which give women a chance to socialize and make business contacts while getting to know each other on a personal level.

Porch said the women in the group span all ages and work in a variety of fields, such as realty, health care, coaching and the nonprofit sector.

"It’s the perfect balance of networking," she said. "By doing it in this style, we get to know each other on a personal level so we can know what the other members need. It’s not just about people we meet at an event, but about expanding how we can help each other."

Melissa Porch, founder of Believe, Give, Network, speaks on Thursday at Outback Steakhouse in Farmington during one of the organization's "Little Black Dress" events.

Porch says her financial services business focuses on personal, retirement services and helping people navigate future decisions. BGN, she said, has helped her to re-define where she will take her practice — much of which depends on referrals — and to hone her services to better help clients determine what will work best for them.

BGN has grown to about 20 local women who attend meetings and has amassed a following on Facebook.

And now, the idea has spread to other areas. Porch said three new BGN groups have sprung up recently.

"There’s now a BGN in Prattville, Alabama, in Rifle, Colorado, and also in Durango, Colorado," she said. "They noticed on Facebook how well the networking was going, and decided they could do the same thing in their own communities."

Alicia Middleton moved to Farmington in February and now serves as the director of San Juan College’s Quality Improvement and Career Center. The ordained minister and a pastor's wife is also the author of a newly published book called "The Power of P-M-S (Praise-Meditation-Study)," which is aimed at turning women’s spiritual struggles into power.

She joined BGN to meet fellow businesswomen.

"BGN is a great place to network, collaborate and build relationships," she said. "Everywhere you go is a good networking opportunity, if you approach it correctly."

Alicia LaRaine Middleton, author of "The Power of P-M-S (Praise-Meditation-Study)," speaks on Thursday during one of the Believe, Give, Network's "Little Black Dress" events at Outback Steakhouse in Farmington.

Eleana Butler, executive director of Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico, has been networking with BGN since its inception.

She said she appreciates the group because she believes in the power of women working together to affect change.

"This is the same thing that we focus on at Sexual Assault Services," she said. "(BGN) is a good environment where women can support each other, and it gives me access to women I wouldn’t normally have access to."

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.