February 18, 2014
Connecting Business Women in Bangkok with Nicola Jones-Crossley, Branch Director Of Business in Heels Bangkok
Nicola, please introduce yourself…
My Twitter account will tell you I’m a foodie, my Facebook shows shared business articles and holiday snapshots, while my LinkedIn profile provides details on my work largely in the community development sector. I am all of these things and more. My name is Nicola Jones-Crossley, more commonly known as Nicky, and I’m the Bangkok Branch Director of Business in Heels.
Born and raised in Sydney, Australia I made the move to Bangkok after my contract ended, working for a non-profit youth service in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. I had always wanted to live and work internationally and so thought, it’s time. A family friend got me a teaching job at a school in Bangkok and I soon wanted something more. That was when I found Business in Heels.
I have always had a flair for working on my own projects and guess I have a touch of the entrepreneurial spirit, meaning I’m determined, passionate and a people person. Business has always interested me and I love creating connections, building partnerships and finding opportunities.
As a woman living in Bangkok I feel there are so many opportunities for the taking and often you find these through the people you know and the networks you have created. I love that Business in Heels creates a space for ladies to make friends and form business connections at the same time.
What’s the story behind creating the Bangkok edition of Business in Heels
Business in Heels came to Bangkok as a project for me to keep busy and do what I love. When I first arrived in here I would get groups of my friends together informally for a few drinks after work and found that steady friendships were made and connections expanded.
I have always been a natural networker and easy going people person, so when I saw the opportunity to get involved with Business in Heels I jumped at the chance.
It was on LinkedIn that I read Jac Bowie’s status seeking to expand Business in Heels internationally. I sent her an email thinking Business in Heels would hit it off in Bangkok and here I am.
I signed contracts in airports as I travelled home to Australia for Christmas, set up social media accounts and established online presence remotely, landed back in Bangkok in early January and hit the ground running.
What can members expect by joining Business in Heels?
Business in Heels is Australia’s premier business networking group, for sassy professional women. Our members – we call them Business Babes – are determined, confident women who appreciate a glass of bubbles, a good pot of moisturiser and getting the most out of life.
Our Business Babes are experts in their field, consultants, bloggers, entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and they are all interested in connecting, sharing and helping others.
The concept of Business in Heels is simple. It’s a fun, informal, social gathering of like-minded professionals all seeking to create new connections and meet some new friends. We pay more attention to finding the RIGHT women, putting them in the RIGHT space, and letting the magic happen.
We took the FORMAL out of networking, took away the badges and long speeches and put the FUN back into it with champagne, canapés, amazing gift bags and killer lucky door prizes. Imagine an event that is social first, business second.
What do you aim to achieve in the next 12 months with Business in Heels
The next 12 months will be spent building up awareness of Business in Heels in Bangkok and establishing ourselves as a fun and relaxed way for professional women to meet new people. I hope to form some consistent relationships with local businesses and brands to support our events while also building and growing these brands in turn.
A great example of this is our partnership with Siam Botanicals for our official launch event Bangkok Premier. Siam Botanicals will be providing some fabulous 100% natural skin care ranges for our ladies.
If Business in Heels continues to grow and we get good feedback and consistent attendance at each of our monthly events, I’d also be interested in looking at whether it may work in other parts of Thailand, Chiang Mai or Phuket for example. But that might be a further couple years down the line, lets see how popular the Bangkok events are first.
How did the deal with Siam Botanicals come about?
I knew about Siam Botanicals from going to the Bangkok Farmers Markets a few times and then following them on Twitter. I connected with the amazing woman behind it, Tamar LeClue and we chatted about both Business in Heels and Siam Botanicals and agreed that the brands complimented each other.
Tamar decided to support the Business in Heels official launch by providing some of her beautiful skin care ranges to our ladies to promote Siam Botanicals to business women in Bangkok.
Your currently in launch mode. What challenges are you facing?
Something that I have found a little challenging is that Bangkok is saturated with so many things happening – events for this and events for that, bar openings, networking meetings, art exhibitions, or pool parties. It can be a little hard breaking through the noise to offer something of quality and reach our potential members.
I do however really believe that Business in Heels, in it’s simplicity and relaxed gatherings, offers something unique and different to professional women in Bangkok.
We don’t try to compete with the party scene for that is not us, we don’t try to offer entertainment or shows, we don’t hold big information meetings or structured meet and greets, because that as well is not us.
We simply stay true to what we are offering at our events and rely a on word of mouth and social media to reach our members. We form partnerships with local businesses to support our ladies in creating new personal and professional connections.
Why women only?
Because women have a special kind of oomph! Women are born natural networkers, they love to chat, connect and form relationships. But they network differently to men. Women tend to form personal relationships first before talking business.
Plus there is something about a room full of women that is empowering and comfortable, connections are formed easily and business can be talked about when and if they want to. Simply, women relate to one-another and talk easily and freely about their challenges and obstacles in the business world, seeking help from fellow professionals.
How’s traction working out so far?
So far, Business in Heels has had great reception. We already have a database of 300 members which is also reflected on our Facebook group that currently has 416 members. Women seem to enjoy the fun, simple, girly but professional image we represent and are all interested in meeting other like-minded career-driven ladies.
Our Soft Launch is set for next Wednesday at Zak’s Wine Pub which is an exclusive event for a limited number of ladies and we’ve had a great response to ticket sales with the event selling out in a week.
We are planning our official launch event, Business in Heels – Bangkok Premier for late March/early April which will be a bigger event and expect a similar response from ticket sales.
Are the business women in Bangkok different (attitudes, styles etc.) to those in Australia?
I have found the women here in Bangkok to be creative, gutsy, determined and strong, willing to try new things, take risks and develop and challenge themselves. Business women act as if they have nothing to lose, and indeed they don’t.
If something doesn’t exist, they go out and create it. Tamar from Siam Botanicals is a great example of this. Craving organic, naturally produced skin care products, she looked and couldn’t find anything in Thailand. So she set up Siam Botanicals and made it herself.
Where business women in Australia usually follow a similar career trajectory, professionals in Bangkok branch out, take risks and follow passions. Within corporate industries, women also tend to hold fairly senior positions, enjoying greater flexibility and creative input then their counterparts in Australia.
Bangkok feels as though it is a big melting pot of creativity and opportunity. In most situations, opportunities don’t fall straight into your lap, you need to go out and find them, but knowing that a lot is possible and that you will be supported by other women in a similar position is the perfect encouragement for business women to take the reigns into their own hands and start building their own professional future.
Is Business in Heels focused on locals, expats or both?
Currently the majority of our Business Babes are expats living and working in Bangkok, however Business in Heels is not only for expats but local women too. I want Business in Heels to be something that welcomes both foreign and local professional women, a place for friendships to form in a community atmosphere and business connections made over a common glass of bubbly.
The events will attract expats new to Bangkok, as the informal setting and relaxed vibe is appealing for foreign expats looking to meet new people and make new friends.
I want to compliment this with having a core group of local women, both expats and Thai professionals, providing a great mix and vibe for our members.
What’s next for you and the Bangkok edition of Business in Heels?
At the moment I am concentrating on plans for the Bangkok Premier and am speaking to local businesses and coordinating special plans for the official launch event.
It’s been fabulous, even just in the planning stages for our events, meeting so many amazing people doing some great things around Bangkok.
Tickets to the Business in Heels – Bangkok Premier will be on sale in the next few weeks. We expect tickets to sell quickly so get in fast and secure yourself an early bird price!