A toast for a master of networking
It’s a great place for entrepreneurs to get together and market their business.
Ann Hill is always in chambers. Or, one might even say, she’s heavy into commerce—the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce, the Lancaster/Rosamond Chambers of Commerce, and the Quartz Hill Chamber of Commerce. And, when she can, she also attends meetings of the Antelope Valley Black Chamber of Commerce. She is also vice president of her local Toastmasters International (Area A-3).
The Greenwood, Miss., native is director of marketing and community relations at Antelope Valley Healthcare in Lancaster.
When Liz Smith, her mother, left Greenwood in the early ‘50s, she packed up Hill and her sister Rita, and settled in Chicago. But being a single, working mother with two daughters in the big city, proved to be fraught with problems. So Hill’s mother took her girls back to Greenwood to live with their grandparents.
But Hill is quick to say that her mother was always present in her daughters’ lives. “Every season she sent us boxes of clothing that she had made,” said Hill. “And she visited us every year at Christmastime.”
In 1964, after the death of their great-grandfather, Hill and her sister returned to the Windy City. After graduation from St. Patrick’s Girls High School, Hill married and moved to Germany with her husband who was serving in the Army. (Hill has been divorced for several years now. Her 25-year-old daughter attends College of the Canyons.) After returning to the States, she began work on her bachelor’s degree. She graduated from Chicago’s DePaul University in 1981 and relocated to Los Angeles.
One of her early positions in Los Angeles was what many could consider a dream job, working for Jerry Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers (basketball) and the Los Angeles Kings (hockey), selling season tickets. During the summer, when Buss’ teams weren’t playing, the Chicago Cubs fan sold season tickets for the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team.
Later she worked for the Herald Examiner, where she won the Publisher’s Award, and the Los Angeles Times, where she won several awards advertising awards in sales. After moving to the Antelope Valley, she obtained a master’s degree in business from the University of Phoenix.
“So it was natural that I would go into the field I’m into now,” said Hill of her work at Antelope Valley Healthcare, a skilled nursing facility. “So I started at the Lancaster Community Hospital, and then I moved here to the Antelope Valley Healthcare.”
She sees her role as “developing relations in the community so that when people choose to come to AV Healthcare they know that they are coming to a quality facility,” Hill said. “It’s developing relations and marketing facilities essentially.”
“Our company belongs [to the chambers], and so I attend all their meetings,” said Hill. “I’m also on the board of directors for the Lancaster/Rosamond Chambers of Commerce, and there I am the event manager and I do a lot with their technology committee as well.”
“At the chamber of commerce, our primary goal is to serve the community by promoting, protecting, encouraging and developing local business, and we do that by helping the members be successful,” said Hill. “We provide network opportunities for small businesses, large businesses, and entrepreneurs. “It’s a great place for entrepreneurs to get together and market their business. I think whenever you take on an assignment, whether it’s volunteer or not, you try and do what you say you’re going to do and not let people down, especially as a volunteer.”
Hill gets a thrill from helping others promote their businesses and getting involved in community events, which is how she got involved in Toastmasters International. Toastmasters is a nonprofit organization that helps people develop communication skills, specifically public speaking. Last year, Hill was the president of the organization, and was acknowledged as the Toastmaster of the Year, winning the Sparkplug Award. She strives to get her company involved in community activities as well. For instance, Hill has encouraged employees to donate money within the facility to other employees who are less fortunate.
In the last 100 years or so, many business enterprises appeared on the American landscape and grew to behemoth proportions. In many ways, it seemed as though they were inviolate; that nothing could undermine them and bring them down. However, in the last couple of years we have seen unprecedented corporate failures. It has become glaringly apparent that corporations, like people, have certain vulnerabilities. Even large institutions can fail spectacularly.
Victor Ahaiwe and Corinthian Ugdan are frustrated. For at least the last decade, the two entrepreneurs have struggled to keep their doors open and their businesses running as smoothly as possible in the face of a Marlton Square building project which began with high hopes of developing a top-notch mixed-use retail-residential development. But instead, over the course of almost 20 years, the project has gone through several developers and is on the way to having a third one.
The buzzword for today is “networking.”
Networking is easy; you’ve probably been doing it all your life and barely realized it. You tell friends about a good hairdresser, a decent mechanic, a trustworthy housecleaner. They, in turn, give you names of a good accountant, a decent tutor, a trustworthy babysitter. You make connections. You put people in touch with others.
The Metropolitan Water District has created a new online vendor bidding and certification system called NETConnect, and any company that was registered on the site must log on (http://vendors.planetbids.com/NETConnect/NetConnectHome.cfm) and create a new user name and password.
Businesses registered on the site receive bid notices from four departments with MWD that participate in the system—business outreach, construction, professional services and purchasing.