Networks – linking like-minded Legates
When Legatus launched its digital Networks platform last September, no one could have envisioned how timely it would be.
As executives and educators nationwide adapted to doing business and teaching virtually during the coronavirus shutdown, Legates already were well-positioned to connect with each other online in their local chapters and nationally.
“It’s always been something we’ve aspired to because in this day of social media, we wanted to create a platform for private, exclusive exchanges among members that would not only cross chapter but regional lines,” said Laura Sacha, Legatus director of development.
Previously, Sacha said, if members attended a Legatus Summit they would meet people from other chapters. But if they didn’t attend the Summit, there was little opportunity to connect with fellow Legates outside their own chapter setting.
Now, through Networks, in addition to accessing programs, announcements, archived speaker recordings and special events, Legates can join one or more of 29 groups based on such interests as wine, business deals, parenting, and books.
“That is where we really see the connections coming together,” Sacha said.
Like a fine wine
Jason Elk, who runs the Networks wine group, said the 30-plus members meet on Zoom every Friday at 4 p.m. Central Time for 45 minutes to taste and discuss wine. “The wine is a common passion,” he said, “but it’s really special to get on there with other Legatus members.” So far, members have chosen a wine and described the selection for others in the group, ordered wine from a club and shared their reactions to it and tasted wine from Legate Judy Barrett’s Chateau Montelana and Trinitas Cellars, founded by Legate Tim Busch. Occasionally, a winemaker has joined the group to offer his or her knowledge and expertise.
When the wine group formed before the coronavirus shutdown, members had been planning a dinner in Chicago in May that had to be canceled. As the country starts to reopen, Elk hopes the members can meet in person, perhaps during a cocktail party or dinner at the next Legatus Summit or at a regional dinner.
In some ways, he said, the shutdown was beneficial for the group’s initial growth. “People were more open to taking time to connect because they were stuck at home and more used to the technology as a way to connect across the country. I kind of knew that when it kicked off, but I’ve been surprised by how well it’s been received.” Elk said some members have told him the meeting was the highlight of their week. “All we did was drink a glass of wine together, but maybe in this dark time, it’s been a nice little highlight to be able to be together while doing something very relaxed.”
Navigating time of tricky business
Steve Raymond, who runs another popular Networks group – one focused on business deals – said it also has done well amid the coronavirus restrictions. The group meets on Zoom twice a month and has about 25 members from California, Florida, the Midwest, and Northeast. Members recently were able to offer advice to another member who had to completely shut down his business because of the coronavirus restrictions. “A couple of people on the call had experience in distressed-business consulting and Chapter 11 bankruptcy and turnaround work and they were a valuable resource for him.” Similarly, he said, other members of the group were able to get advice about Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
Raymond said the business deals group meeting typically lasts an hour and starts and ends with a prayer. Because the group is still new, he has been asking several members to talk about who they are and what their businesses do so that everyone can get to know each other. When he was approached by John Knowles, Legatus Northeast regional director, about Networks groups and specifically starting one for business deals, Raymond said he saw it as a great opportunity for Legates to engage with members in other chapters. “To me, that’s one of the untapped powers of Legatus. We have chapters all over the country, but with the exception of the Summit, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for members to get to know each other across chapters. Legatus Networks is a great way to do that.”
More robust Legatus experience
Elk believes Networks groups will make the experience of Legatus more robust for members as they recognize the benefits. He sees the groups as a chance for Legates to broaden and expand their circle of friends based on common interests in contrast to the Legatus Forum groups, in which members go deeper with a smaller number of people.
Sacha urged Legates to explore the Networks site to find out more about the groups and to access resources like Summit speaker presentations, chapter events listings, and a map showing where members are located.
JUDY ROBERTS is a Legatus magazine staff writer.