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Friday, March 26, 2010

THE POSTILLION: Interviews The Joy of Connecting® CEO and founder Bonnie Ross-Parker

The Postillion with Michael Phillips

Insights and thought leadership on the adoption of best practices and emerging technologies.

A tradition established by "The Postillion" is to grant each column interviewee the privilege of recommending the next personality to be interviewed. "The Postillion" had the honor of interviewing TNNW Vice Chairman Douglas Castle for my last column. "The Postillion" thanks Douglas for a fascinating interview (check it out if you have not already done so). Douglas recommended The Joy of Connecting® CEO and founder Bonnie Ross-Parker as the focus of this month’s column. "The Postillion" compliments Douglas on a wonderful choice.

Bonnie Ross-Parker catches your attention right away as an intelligent, creative, gracious and caring person. She is on a crusade to help her sisters in business and leadership positions. She helps build connected networks of like-minded women to enable lead generation, cooperative marketing, personal enrichment, collaborative opportunity incubation and realization. Bonnie started The Joy of Connecting® in 2002 to help these professional women, entrepreneurs and business owners to share resources, establish and strengthen relationships and to grow their businesses through these networks. This proprietary system for business women allows for person-to-person networking in an un-threatening, relaxed atmosphere that has proven to produce active business engagement relationships better than any other networking method. The Joy of Connecting® has licensees nationwide with exponential growth anticipated over the next two years.

Bonnie is a regular speaker at women’s groups, a published author, and has her own radio program that focuses on women’s business issues. She has received many honors for her selfless service to the sisterhood. Bonnie received The Athena Award, an honor acknowledging women of leadership in cities throughout the United State. The Postillion congratulates Bonnie for The Joy of Connecting® recently being selected for the 2009 Best of Business Award by the Small Business Commerce Association (SBCA). The SBCA 2009 Award Program recognizes the top 5% of small businesses throughout the country.

Given all of her support for woman’s business success, Bonnie assured The Postillion that she has nothing against the male gender. However, she does acknowledge that men and women do communicate and support each other in different ways. To this point Bonnie shared a humorous example of how men and women communicate differently. Bonnie and her husband, Phil Parker, had just seen an interesting and thought provoking movie together. Bonnie challenged Phil to ask other men what they thought about how the movie ended while in the theater restroom. She would ask ladies what they thought and they could then see if there were differences in opinions. Not surprising to The Postillion, Phil balked at her request. Men know that to ask unsolicited, thought provoking questions while doing one's business in the men’s room risks an aggressive, testosterone induced response of the non verbal kind. It seems that women can talk and even ask probing questions of each other while engaging in restroom rituals. Men are totally mystified by what really transpires behind the closed doors of the lady’s room. We do know that these activities far transcend the main purpose these facilities were originally designed for. Men realize that these restroom networking mysteries are beyond the male comprehension and best left to the wiles of feminine oracles.

The Postillion thinks that the closest male equivalent to the lady’s room would have to be the golf cart. The Postillion will not divulge the time honored male rituals that transpire within a golf cart over 18 holes of golf. But many business deals and partnerships often result from visits to this wheeled temple of male bonding. But, I digress. This month’s column is not about the Joy of Golf Connecting, restroom networking, or a rehashing of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.

It was a great pleasure to interview Bonnie Ross-Parker and to learn about The Joy of Connecting® movement. Her pure passion for what she does permeates her discussions and achievements. Both men and women will find this interview informative and inspiring. The Postillion is honored to introduce Bonnie to my readers.

The Postillion: What was your inspiration to start The Joy of Connecting® (JOC) program for women?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: During my years in the franchise arena, I was thrown into a male dominated environment which, as an entrepreneurial business woman, was frequently uncomfortable, demanding and disrespectful. In spite of being one of the franchisor’s top area developers, I fought with gusto to get the recognition I earned and deserved. When I sold my territory with 28 franchises back to the corporate establishment in 1995, I vowed I would find a way to support business women, professionals and entrepreneurs.

The Postillion: What are the main goals for the JOC program?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: To offer a platform for women to share with one another their businesses, learn from each other, strengthen relationships and create an environment in alignment with the nurturing side of the female. The licensee who replicates The Joy of Connecting® proprietary model enhances her leadership skills, strengthens her confidence and becomes recognized as a go-to person by those who come to know her. By opening her home and heart, she is better positioned for business success. For participants, they also get the same benefits: building a warm market by expanding relationships that fosters business.

The Postillion: What happens at a typical JOC get together?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: The monthly event is centered around 2 ½ hours which allows ample time for socializing/dinner/luncheon or brunch, and a formal 3-minute spotlight for each participant who gets the platform to share about herself, her business, etc. The experience also includes testimonials, announcements of upcoming opportunities and door prize(s). Often women will linger when The JOC is over, continuing dialogues, arranging to get together with contacts they wish to maintain. The energy of women coming together collaboratively and with openness lingers makes it difficult to leave!

The Postillion:
JOC seems to be a vehicle to help women establish a customer acquisition marketing program. How successful has the JOC been in achieving this goal?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: We choose to do business with people we like, trust and value. When women share enthusiastically with one another in an environment that is safe and supportive, it is natural to want to do business with each other. Many JOC participants will share that when it comes to buying a product or service, they look to their JOC family of business women first – insurance agent, lawn care, massage therapist, financial planner, fitness instructor, skin care professional, graphic artist, etc. With the variety of products and services women offer, we have a wealth of resources available to meet our needs. Why go anywhere else when you can spend your money with women with whom you are fostering relationships? That’s the beauty of JOC: building relationships (warm market) to expand and sustain business. I refer to this as customer acquisition.

The Postillion:
How does marketing with The Joy of Connecting model create business “players” in their respective communities?

Bonnie Ross-Parker:
Everywhere and often. Because The Joy of Connecting® is not a membership, women participate where and when it’s convenient. Unlike typical organizations that in some cases require passing leads, JOC is built on women choosing to come together without the traditional 30 second/1 minute commercial type event where everyone is slapping a business card in your hand. As a Joy of Connecting® licensee (player), our leaders become known in her respective community as someone who cares about the success of women and is willing to bring professionals together (what’s in it for them!) on a monthly basis. She is the catalyst for what unfolds and that brings huge value to everyone, especially her!

The Postillion: What type of woman becomes a licensee of the JOC?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: The Joy of Connecting® licensee is serious about growing her business. She is eager to build relationships in her community, committed to personal and professional development and loves the opportunity to support other business women. Common comments include: “I think that when women come together to support and uplift one another, there is nothing that we can’t do!” Or, “I want to interact and network with like-minded women who want to be successful in life.” “As a licensee, I am interested in purchasing a license to build relationships and empower women business owners.” The JOC licensee is willing to learn, loves to entertain and recognizes the power of becoming a go-to person in her respective community. She knows the power of sisterhood and wants to play a role in its growth.

The Postillion:
What support does a licensee receive? (Training, materials, technology, licensee portal, recognition, etc.)

Bonnie Ross-Parker: All licensees become certified in my proprietary program. She receives a DVD of The Joy of Connecting® Experience, a training DVD, e-book manual of approximately 400 pages, use of The JOC logo, positioning on the website, a link to her website and ongoing training. She has the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with other licensees and is supported by The JOC Director of Field Support. In addition, we now have a National Director for the Latina woman who wants to be in our JOC family.

The Postillion:
How much has your business model changed through your first 8 years?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: The model has remained unchanged. Same format. Same time frame. I did, however, become flexible on the place to have a JOC gathering to accommodate women wanting to own a license without having an appropriate space. We now have a few locations in other nurturing environments, like a café, yoga studio, hair/nail salon, and office suite. The majority of women want to entertain in their homes, however, which is the best place to have JOC. The other major change is a wonderful addition to our community. The JOC website is available in Spanish: Desiring to include the sisterhood of Latina women, we are positioned to embrace both cultures into one large organization.

The Postillion:
What are two of your favorite JOC success stories?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: I have a licensee, Debbie Warden, who owns a Fetch Pet Care franchise in Lake Lanier, Georgia. She often shares that her expanding customer base and women who she hires to serve her clients are primarily from her JOC sisterhood community. With so many women owning pets and others who love them, it continues to be a win-win situation for everyone. Women use her service and women provide Fetch Pet Care services. The other story is a connection made by Mary Plotts, a professional photographer and Send Out Cards representative who lives in Chamblee-Dunwoody, Georgia. A sister licensee, Julia LeBrun, lives in Newport, Oregon. Julia was exploring the idea of becoming a Send Out Cards consultant and in exploring The Joy of Connecting® site, noticed that Mary represents Send Out Cards. Deciding to "keep it in the family," Julia joined Mary’s team. Imagine Mary’s surprise to get a consultant from across the US because of their both being licensees. These are simply a few of the hundreds of success stories that have emerged from The JOC experience.

The Postillion:
How did you acquire the nick name of “America’s Connection Diva”?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: A few years after my franchise career, I decided to write my book, Walk In My Boots – The Joy of Connecting®. Having networked and mentored women for prior years, a lot of those women I supported with my ideas and resources encouraged me to "tell my story." When Walk In My Boots was ready for publication, I hired a dear friend, Barbara Keddy ( to help with marketing. She came up with my tag line “America’s Connection Diva” because of my reputation as a "connector" and I’ve stuck with it!

The Postillion:
Do you envision expanding the JOC to international markets?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: There is nothing to deter us from expanding internationally. Because JOC is a customer acquisition/unique marketing program, we are not subject to any regulation(s) regarding a business opportunity. As a marketing tool, any woman can replicate The Joy of Connecting® to build her business without geographic limitations. Currently, materials are in English, plus in Spanish on The Latina Joy of Connecting website. With 27+ years of networking experience and training skills, I have the tools and knowledge to assist any woman anywhere in her marketing efforts.

The Postillion:
What are you most proud of regarding the last 8 years of The Joy of Connecting®?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: In spite of change, challenge and the doubt of others, I have remained totally focused on my mission:

"In August, 2002, I realized women needed a forum to connect with each other in a way that would enhance their professional and personal lives. With a flash in insight, The Joy of Connecting® was born. With the help and support of trusted friends, JOC has grown to what it is today. Our cornerstone is integrity; our mission is to make a difference in the lives of others and leave the world better for its presence. We dedicate our open hearts to welcoming, nurturing, supporting and respecting women in all areas of their lives. The Joy of Connecting® is committed to spreading joy, support and genuine connections throughout the world."

The Postillion:
What do you see in the future for the JOC?

Bonnie Ross-Parker: The Joy of Connecting® has a very bright future! With more women wanting to share their talents, expertise and establish independence, they are discovering that having camaraderie with like-minded professional women is key to their success. Mixed gender events, while still a viable networking tool, simply doesn’t line up with what The Joy of Connecting offers. I anticipate exponential growth in 2010 and beyond. As more females learn about JOC and experience its powerful platform, word of mouth continues to be the primary fuel for its engine. Safe, warm and effective, The Joy of Connecting® is a no-risk venue with valuable return for both participants and licensees. Rapid growth is on the horizon!

The Postillion wishes to share with my readers a representative sample of the many glowing testimonials that The Joy of Connecting® licensees post about their networking experiences. Testimonies such as the one below represents compelling evidence of this program’s ability to positively impact the lives and success potential of business women everywhere.

“Bonnie, I can’t thank you enough for starting this great organization. I am so excited the day of a JOC event because not only do I know that I will meet new people but I will reconnect with people I meet at other JOC’s or the same JOC from the previous months. This is such a great opportunity for all women in the business arena. You don’t have to be just a home-based business or a women in corporate America to join these JOC events; it is a mixture of all of us, no matter what you do. It is a great opportunity to come out and network with people I would have never met otherwise. I am so excited about my business after I leave a JOC event that I don’t want to go home and go to bed, but go home and get on the phone and make phone calls and book some shows or connect with other potential leads from other JOC events I have met. Everyone has a great opportunity to grow their business by attending these JOC events and I definitely encourage everyone to go and try it out at least 3 times before writing it off. You go to one and realize what a great opportunity for friendship and networking it is. Thank you again for starting such a wonderful organization.”
Jennifer Campbell, Cookie Lee Jewelry, suburban GA, Jan, 2010

The Postillion sincerely thanks Bonnie Ross-Parker for making the time to participate in this interview. I encourage my readers to forward this article to all of your women business associates so they too can become aware of this women based business networking opportunity. I conclude this article with the following quote from Bonnie which sums up the promise of The Joy of Connecting® program.

“We are and will continue to be a major source for encouragement, information and camaraderie for any female who believes in herself and has the determination to succeed. While The Joy of Connecting® format is fool-proof, like any other program, it is successful for the woman who desires to make a difference in the lives of others and is willing to network in an innovative way. Let’s face it, the marketplace is crowded and everyone is scurrying for their share of business. The Joy of Connecting® model offers women a competitive edge!”

To find out more about becoming a certified licensee of JOC, go to:

and fill out an on line – no obligation application. Applicants have nothing to lose and the possibilities are unlimited if one is really committed to expansive business success.

Bonnie Ross-Parker, Speaker/Author and CEO/Founder of The Joy of Connecting®, has authored several books. Walk In My Boots – The Joy of Connecting, Y.O.U. – Set A High Standard for Being Human and Co-Edited: 42 Rules for Effective Connections. She is also a contributing writer to Build It Big, 42 Rules for Driving Success with Books, Life Manual for The 21st Century Woman and soon to be released The Power of Passion: Winning Women Reveal Their Success Secrets and Wake Up Women: BE Happier, Healthier & Wealthier. Bonnie is a show host on she has her own program, "Business Plus: Real Ideas for Real Results." She lives in Atlanta with Speaker/Author husband, Phil Parker. Reach Bonnie at:

Michael Phillips, A.K.A. The Postillion, lives and works in Tampa Florida, and has over 30 years of experience in leading innovative development and trends within the information technology industry. Comments and suggestions for future interview personalities can be emailed to

For more information, please visit Michael's TNNW Bio.


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