Even though Verity & Co. has technically been “in business” for over two years now, I had never attended a real, legitimate, business networking event. I’ve had a few opportunities to gather locally, but I have always come up with pretty good excuses to just stay put (homebody, much?).
While I might be a little too comfortable running my business from behind my computer screen and phone, it’s worth mentioning that one of the reasons my business was created was so I could be home with my kids without the need for consistent childcare, and many local events take place when I would need to find a sitter. Most of my networking is done online during nap time in my comfy clothes, by choice. To attend a real-life conference? Crazy talk.
When I heard about the Women’s Business Lakeside Conference, I was definitely intrigued but not seriously interested. Even though it was being held in my home state of Wisconsin, the location was still a six-hour drive from where we live. Just as my kids keep me from attending many in-person networking events, it didn’t seem like it would work out to navigate the logistics of kiddos, including a baby who still needs me like all the time, when my husband was starting a new job that same week. But, man, it sounded so neat. So I thought, hm, maybe… But probably not.
Enter Danielle Roberts, online business manager extraordinaire and one of my very first online business friends. She was a speaker at the conference, and of course I needed to come so we could meet in person. So tempting.
Then the conference organizer, the lovely Robin Walker, posted a shoutout in a Facebook group for potential business vendors in the Midwest. I thought, hey, I’m in the Midwest–I should at least respond to her inquiry to see what she’s looking for. Turns out it was for the same Lakeside Conference, and she was looking for businesses to come alongside the conference as vendors and experts in the field to add value to the conference experience. Okay, maybe this is something I’m supposed to do.
I’ll spare you the boring details of my decision-making process, but in the end, I decided to take a leap and go. It was an amazing decision. And I had amazing people supporting me in that decision. My sweet mama came along to care for my nursing baby, so she and my daughter hung out in the hotel while I was in the conference space, watched Fixer Upper, and went for walks in the halls. (Thanks a million, mom! And thanks, dad, for letting her come with me!). My mother-in-law kept our two boys while the husband worked, and then he held down the fort until I got back. Without that village behind me, it never would have happened.
The Women’s Business Lakeside Conference was held in beautiful Lake Geneva, WI, and it was lovely, intimate, and overall a really good experience for me. Minus the nerves in the beginning! Did I mention that it was my very first in-person business event? Oh yes.
A very tiny fish 😉
My sweet girl came to say hello
I felt like a very tiny fish among amazing women in the small business/entrepreneur niche, but once the nerves wore off, I felt comfortable in my own skin and was blown away by the amount of passion, talent, and sheer grit that was present in the women that I met. Since Robin was looking for small businesses to exhibit at the conference and basically be resources available to the attendees, it was a perfect opportunity for Verity & Co. to make an appearance and serve women in business with experience on web design and brand strategy.
Main focal points of the conference were education & training and connection & networking. As a vendor, I had the opportunity to offer 1:1 mini sessions to the attendees between the speaker workshops, and I met in person with a total nine women to chat business, websites, branding, and their online presence. I talked both with women who were fairly established in their business and with so many who were just getting started–and their passion was simply infectious. These women knew what they wanted to do and who they desired to serve–they just needed a little encouragement for the getting started. Don’t we all!
I had three main takeaways from the Women’s Business Lakeside Conference:
It was so good to meet people in person who I have already gotten to know and love online. There were a few ladies in particular who I was excited to meet because I knew them online, but I also met several ladies who I had known of online, and it made the entrepreneurship world seem a little smaller and more connected.
It grew me to speak about my business vocally rather than only online or in writing. I’m admittedly a writer over a speaker, so my comfort zone is in the written social media post or in the email rather than the video post or call. But it’s true that the more you talk about something, the more it is solidified, so speaking about my business gave me increasingly clear communication about Verity & Co. as a business and myself as an entrepreneur.
I’m continually and increasingly passionate about equipping women with beautiful & functional websites and brand visuals and helping them get to the heart of their business through strategic design and preparation. The passion these women had for their own small business visions only made me more excited to encourage them forward, help them in any way possible, as well as take my own business and grow it to be the best it can be.
The 2018 Women’s Business Lakeside Conference is already being planned for March of next year, so keep your eyes peeled for information and mark it in your calendar if you’re looking for an event to grow your business and meet other amazing women in the small business niche. Highly recommended. Robin did a fantastic job organizing her flagship event and I know the experience will only grow in prestige.
In the meantime, Robin hosts a valuable Facebook group filled with engaged and encouraging women entrepreneurs that I would encourage you to check out.
Were YOU at the Lakeside Conference? I’d love if you’d drop a comment to say hi and so we can connect once again!