When Jennifer Bibb Hisdorf and Jackie Von Thun, both of Mt. Lebanon, created a Facebook page in January 2017 to promote an idea they had for a new networking group, they hoped a few women from the South Hills area would respond. What they never expected were 28 of them to show up for the very first meeting; so many that finding a bigger venue for the next gathering became the top priority.
Fast forward two years later and P.O.S.H.—Power of South Hills Women Working Together—is 290 members strong on Facebook and still growing, meeting every third Wednesday of the month for a networking luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Houlihan’s in The Galleria. Attendance is free, you pay for your own meal, and any woman is welcome to come although those who attended the previous meeting are given first access to register for the next one via EventBrite for 72 hours before it opens to the public. The meetings have become so popular that many sell out days in advance and require a wait list since the current venue has a capacity of 40.
“I get a lot of frantic texts and calls on Wednesday mornings,” says Von Thun, a realtor with Realty ONE Group Gold Standard. “Women asking, ‘Can I still come? Is there any room?’”
She and Bibb Hisdorf, who manages the WesBanco on Beverly Road, came up with the idea for P.O.S.H. after being involved with another business-oriented networking group that felt too restrictive.
The mission of P.O.S.H. is clear: Provide networking opportunities to connect women in the South Hills area to resources and contacts that will lead to overall growth in their area of expertise but in a positive, energizing way. What they didn’t want was rigidity; another commitment that would just stress you out. Which is why P.O.S.H. has kicked many membership rules commonly embraced by similar business-oriented groups to the curb. For example, it’s not category specific; if you’re a financial advisor and there are already two others in the group, you’re still welcome to join. Membership is also free. There are no sign-up fees, monthly dues or long-term commitments, and you’re not required to find a replacement to take your spot if you’re unable to attend an event as planned.
“Some women can’t even stay for lunch, so they just pop in for a little bit or maybe just to hear the guest speaker,” says Bibb Hisdorf.
And while they are passionate about cultivating a local network for women to develop leads and relationships that can also help grow their business, it’s not a requirement to live and/or work in the South Hills to join. Over the past two years, P.O.S.H. has attracted women from all over Pittsburgh and well beyond.
“I wanted to get more work in the Pittsburgh area and was looking for groups to join when I stumbled on their Facebook page,” says Jessica Clifford of Jessica Lyn Portraits in Johnstown. “I came to my first meeting a month ago and everyone was so friendly that I had to come back.”
The monthly luncheons are conscientious of time and flow accordingly. At precisely 11:33 a.m., each woman stands up to introduce herself and present a 30-second commercial about what she does. While lunch is served, a guest speaker addresses generalized, business-oriented topics that are relevant to everyone rather than something that feels like a 40-minute long sales pitch.
“As a long-time entrepreneur, I can tell you firsthand that building collaborative relationships with other women in business is not only necessary but essential to achieving happy, joyful and successful businesses,” says Jen Ohrman, Mt. Lebanon resident and senior director of Melaleuca: The Wellness Company. “We all can learn so much from one another. It is extremely challenging to try and build a business in isolation, but when we surround ourselves with a likeminded supportive ‘tribe,’ the sky is the limit.”
The group is composed of women of all ages, ranging from young professionals to seasoned executives as well as those who are rejoining the workforce after raising their kids. What P.O.S.H. aims to cultivate is a supportive, empowering environment that allows women to grow alongside each other, regardless of what stage they’re at in their career.
“We wanted it to be a network of women who could come together and bond together,” says Bibb Hisdorf. “It’s a confidence you can see from the first meeting to now; confident in business, confident in self. Becoming leaders, taking on positions in company and running events. It’s so powerful.”
Find information about P.O.S.H. on their Facebook page or by calling 412-902-3012.