Why does Detroit inspire us? For starters – people like Kerry Doman and Carrie Budzinksi of After 5 Detroit. With passion, positivity and exposure to a community of strong business leaders and public figures – Doman joined, and led, a movement towards promoting the wonder of Detroit.
Building a Network
Kerry Doman is the founder and CEO of After 5 Detroit, while Carrie Budzinski serves as the organization’s vice president.
In September 2005, Doman moved back to Detroit from Chicago. She noticed a lack of resources for young adults and professionals in the city, and leveraged her entrepreneurial mindset and love for the city to create an exciting opportunity for city residents – this would mark the start of After 5 Detroit.
After 5 began as a website to highlight popular destinations and events within Detroit’s city limits. This resource prompted movements such as young families moving to the city, companies attracting and recruiting top talent for career openings and economic growth through the promotion of events occurring within the city.
Doman and Budzinski’s scope of impact has changed exponentially, allowing After 5 to impact cities all over Southeast Michigan. From Rochester to the downriver area, After 5 programs offer activities suitable for all ages, interests and destinations in Metro Detroit.
However, it wasn’t always this easy.
The pair strategically built a powerful network – utilizing every resource that Detroit had to offer. Doman found growth in networking with other Michigan organizations and companies in a mutually beneficial relationship that strengthened the community she heavily advocated for, while assisting Detroit companies in retaining top talent and creating a competitive atmosphere for recruitment within the city for young adults.
As a resident of Detroit, and empathetic parent, Doman attracted audiences she could genuinely relate to. With an eclectic variety of events, Doman was able to spread her brand immensely- winning over the support of top Detroit businesses.
Since taking off, After 5 has expanded its impact to new programs such as Connect After 5 and After 5 Intern Program. These programs further elaborate on Doman and Budzinski’s goal of making Detroit an enjoyable place to live, work and play.
Doman acknowledged that young adults will decide their futures based on lifestyle and job opportunities. In order to retain talent in the city, Doman began the After Five Intern Program. This program offers new workers in Detroit the opportunity to network, experience Detroit, and have fun in the process.
These employees are sponsored by their employers, who have unified with After 5 to promote the bright future of Detroit. The program has hosted nearly 15,000 interns, and has played an essential role over the last six years in promoting a strong economy, and attracting young talent to Detroit – permanently.
Is your company connected? Through company bonding, community building and after-work activities, After 5 has become the fastest growing program for the corporate community of Detroit, and allows for some friendly competition amongst companies in activities such as dodge ball, kickball, volleyball and trivia. Besides strengthening the bond of companies internally, this program also allows professionals to network with other bright minds outside their own organizations.
As mothers, Doman and Budzinski helped create the perfect resource for classes, events and activities for families surrounding, and within, the City of Detroit. Through her network, the two have created a site that appeals to children of nearly every age. Through the simple act of sharing ideas, Doman has created a narrative in Detroit that emulates a family-friendly atmosphere for all ages and areas of interest.
Doman explains that the program, and Detroit in itself, targets a wide range of demographics. From infants, to grandparents, there is something here for everyone.
“I moved to Lafayette Park for the architecture,” Doman said. “I stayed for the community.”
Share, Share, Share
In an office of public relations professionals, we were thrilled to hear Doman’s story of skyrocketing communication, and building a network for the distribution and retrieval of new information and events.
Doman’s best advice on promoting a new brand? Share, Share, Share.
Doman is always open to new ideas, and found that building her network was an essential key to the success of her organization.
In addition to sharing her ideas, Doman found that engagement was crucial to her operation. She paid less attention to following and likes on social media, and monitored her engagement – which was unbelievably high.
Doman invested her resources into increasing this engagement, and analyzing the site’s search ability and quality of content.
Through strategic planning, networking and a passion for Detroit- After 5 grew from a small website into a movement towards an economically thriving, safe and exciting city.
What’s next for After 5 and Little Guides? You’ll have to check it out for yourself – but Doman and Budzinski plan to add summer camps, stroll(er) rolls and further expand the network of young professionals in Detroit.
Katie Kalass is a Public Relations Coordinator at Franco. Shoot her an email at [email protected].