By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
They’re gay. They’re in business. And they’re proud of both. That’s the message being sent by two new SE Michigan organizations that have recently been formed to bring together LGBT business professionals.
Ties Like Me had great success at their first meeting on Oct. 19, according to organizers Reid Beyerlein and Robert Lalicki, with over one hundred people in attendance.
Ties Like Me is a professional networking group. According to Lalicki, a home lender with Flagstar Bank, and Beyerlein, a financial planer with Edward Jones, the group plans to keep the group as simple as possible. Membership is confidential because not everyone is out on his or her job, the two explained, and contact information won’t be given out “to anyone at any price,” said Lalicki.
While Ties Like Me had their first meeting at Pronto! in Royal Oak and will be switching venues for their November event, the LGBT Business Owners Network has a permanent meeting place at Affirmations Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Ferndale.
The LGBT Business Owners Network is the brainchild of Alan Semonian, a CPA with Ameritax Plus, Dee Dee Sung of Paramount Bank, Affirmations Executive Director Leslie Thompson, Susan Horowitz, publisher of Between The Lines, and Jodi Bollaert and Kim Rummler of Blue Sun Works, Inc., a Web design firm.
While both groups have the same goal – promoting business to business networking – the Business Owners Network will also feature a monthly presentation to help LGBT professionals develop valuable networking and business skills, Semonian explained.
“Both organizations came out of a natural void left when the Motor City Business Forum went away five or six years ago,” Semonian said.
While Ties Like Me meets on the third Wednesday of every month, the Business Owners Network has planned meetings on the first Wednesday so as not to cause a conflict between the two groups, Semonian said. At their first meeting on Oct. 5, the Business Owners Network featured a presentation titled “Starting A New Business from Gay to Z.”
“We want both organizations to do well,” Semonian said.
That oughtn’t to be a problem, if the feedback that Beyerlein and Lalicki have received is any indication.
According to Lalicki, follow up to the first Ties Like Me event has been “tremendous,” with attendees, “telling us that this is a much-needed voice in the community.”