Business-owning women have the opportunity to network and learn tips and tricks from featured speakers, all while enjoying a cup of coffee, thanks to the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation’s Strong Women Strong Coffee events.
The events, which take place in multiple cities throughout Wisconsin, allow women — men are welcomed too — to network in a more intimate setting compared to other business networking events. Each speaker has a unique story to tell, whether they are sought out by WWBIC directly or recommended to the organization. Speakers include a variety of professionals, ranging from beauty store owners to food connoisseurs.
“We’re looking for a variety of stories,” said Andrea Hughes, WWBIC’s Madison Market Project Director. “You want to be able to just listen to somebody else’s story because you learn so much that way.”
The organization differentiates itself from other networking events because of its casual nature. The meetings are personal and intimate and allow people to learn from talking to others and hearing their experiences. The meetings are organized into a question and answer format as opposed to a dry PowerPoint presentation, Hughes said.
By having like-minded entrepreneurs all together in one room, the possibilities for growth are limitless — especially because everyone has unique information to share. Some speakers talk about the hardships of having a business and raising a family, while others may talk about the successes and failures they’ve faced throughout the years. The program was created so women can have another resource for their businesses.
“It’s an outreach program to let people know that there are resources out there that are particularly focused on women starting businesses,” Hughes said.
There may not be many college students that have solidified plans to start a business, but they should be aware of these events nonetheless. After all, the main focus is networking, and today, as seen with LinkedIn, networking is a huge component of finding success in the workplace. Some speakers have even reached success on the national level, such as Tera Johnson, which gives the women in attendance an upper-hand in understanding business growth.
Founder of teraswhey, Johnson began her company on the local scale and worked her way up. She also founded the Food Finance Institute at UW Extension. She has the business experience to help others achieve success. She is scheduled to speak on Sep. 22 at WWBIC’s Madison office, located at 2300 S Park St.
Attendees can also use the meeting space as an opportunity to get their products out to the public. Every meeting has coffee and food — the latter is sourced from clients here in Madison. For example, a jam maker will be bringing her products to one of the future meetings, according to Hughes.
To test products on a larger, more realistic level, women can take advantage of Coffee with a Conscience, an endeavor started by WWBIC in Milwaukee. The women partaking in this can sell their products at Coffee with a Conscience to learn more information about their customers. WWBIC also uses this information and turns it into an educational exercise, where they teach the other women entrepreneurs tips on running a real business.
According to Hughes, there are people starting businesses all the time. Whether they’re learning how to handle employees, market products or trying to get into the Willy Street co-op, there are always advancements to be made. Even the established speakers learn new, helpful information by attending the meetings.
“The speakers even learn from each other different approaches on how to do things,” Hughes said. “It’s the little tidbits you learn along the way that really make the difference.”
Some of these speakers include Megan Hile, owner of the Madison Chocolate Company, and Leanne Cordisco from the Chocolaterian Café. But the featured speakers aren’t only limited to the food industry. Mary Burke spoke about her organization, Building Brave, which aids women in raising their confidence levels. In October, the organization will be partnering with the Madison Black Chamber of Commerce to highlight Stephanie Sairr, owner of Savanna Beauty Supply.
Strong Women Strong Coffee is another resource that all women should utilize to advance their businesses, or to simply start friendships and build connections. The events can only help bring further success. Each event is $10 and requires registration, but the knowledge gained will certainly be worth the money.