Building connections and networks


Self-employment is a hot button for women on the Sunshine Coast as witnessed by a huge turnout at a meeting last Thursday, June 12, at the Gibsons Public Market intended to foster connections and build networks among aspiring and established women entrepreneurs.

Billed as the Self-Employed Women’s Net­work (SEWN) the event was co-sponsored by Com­munity Resource Centre (CRC), the Progress Plan, FUSE, the Community Work Hub, Sunshine Coast Community Services Society and the Status of Women Canada.

Almost 100 women filled the Market to capacity at the meeting that organizers expected about 30 would attend.
For Pat Hunt, co-chair of the Community Resource Centre board, the number was thrilling.

“We were overwhelmed at the response to the SEWN event. From our community conversations we knew that this was something that was of interest in the community but had no idea of this level of pent-up enthusiasm. This will continue,” Hunt said.

Right from the beginning of the meeting there was a buzz in the room. Christine Younghusband, project assistant on the Progress Plan and MC for the evening, finally had to resort to using a tambourine to quiet the excited women.

“I hate to silence women when they’re having such good conversations,” she said before introducing the speakers.

Special guest for the evening, Cheryl McNicol of McNicol Business Services, shared with the audience her expertise on building referral teams. McNicol said the term refers to three to five people who know who you are, what you do, like and trust you, can pinpoint your ideal client and have lots of opportunities to interact with your ideal clients. The team doesn’t sell for you, they pass referrals to you.

McNicol has been generous in sharing her experience with the CRC, so much so that the organization now refers to her as a knowledge philanthropist — someone who very generously shares knowledge for free.

McNicol also had several questions for the women to work on during the event. And while the sheer numbers made hearing and participating challenging at times, it didn’t appear to stop anyone from contributing. Although there were frequent side conversations, all the women appeared to participate in the exercises.

A highlight of the evening were the many door prizes donated by generous businesses. A list of them can be found in the event photos on the Coast Reporter website: Special thanks went to the three intrepid men at the free wine bar.

After compiling the feedback results from the women, the next step in the process will be determined. Early indications are promising for more networking opportunities. If you’re interested in this subject, let the CRC know at admin@community and watch for further events. 

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