Information sources can boost business success, businesswomen told

Women business owners and operators should understand and use the various industry information sources, especially Web sites, and do more networking to run successful, growing businesses. That was the advice of a panel of female industry experts in the Women’s Jewelry Association’s (WJA) Wednesday afternoon seminar, “Women In the Know … Go.”

Panelists included Cindy Edelstein, founder and president of Jewelers’ Resource Bureau; Alice Keller, editor-in-chief, Gems & Gemology magazine; Anna Martin of ABN-Amro Bank and WJA president; and Hedda Schupak, editor-in-chief of Jewelers’ Circular Keystone magazine. Caroline Stanley of Red Jewel Inc. served as panel moderator.

“We spend so much time doing business, and not much time thinking about business,” said Edelstein. “So, set aside time each week to talk about business with other people, to read about business, and to recharge your batteries.”

“Fortify yourself with the knowledge and information you need to do business effectively, such as when someone sells your gems or a customer comes in with 100-year-old alexandrite jewelry from Russia,” urged Keller. That information can take many forms—professional education courses, such as those of the Gemological Institute of America; industry magazines and journals; and Internet sites.

Schupak also urged the audience to look at the many consumer and lifestyle magazines on the newsstands. “You need to know the hot issues” of concern to one’s customers, she advised.

Edelstein recommended “logging into trade magazine Web sites every day. You need to know what the industry is talking about,” she said, and how those issues—such as gem disclosure issues—can affect your business. “If you see the same topic popping up on several sites, you know you need to know about it.”

She recommended looking at other relevant Internet sources, like fashion Web sites, small-business Web sites, and industry “chat rooms.” The latter are an easy way to communicate and literally network with other people in the industry, or even your particular locality. “They’re like ongoing conversations to find resources and compare notes,” Edelstein said.

She suggested setting up retail chat rooms locally, “in your home town—they’re easy to set up on Yahoo—for local businesses or women’s businesses.”

Keller also reminded the audience to “look at international journals and Web sites, too. They have very good information and give you a different, wider perspective [on industry issues].”

However, with so much information available to businesswomen today, there is a danger of “information overload,” warned Stanley. Schupak urged the audience of women to “learn to interpret the information to your specific business needs.” Keller agreed, suggesting that users should “be aware of the information you’re getting, so you know what and how to use it.”

“Know how to skim and filter the information you get,” said Anna Martin. That filter is: “How does this information apply to me and my business? How can I use it?”