Get the most out of the 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman's Conference
Marquee Sponsors ($50,000 and Up)
BP America, Inc.
Deluxe Corporation Foundation *
Premier Sponsors ($25,000 - $49,000)
Allstate Insurance • BMO Harris Bank • CDW • Citibank • CNA • ComEd • Microsoft Corporation • OfficeMax • PNC • U.S. Bank • United Airlines - The Official Carrier of the WBDC • UPS • W.W. Grainger, Inc. • Walgreen Co.
WBE Premier Sponsors ($10,000 and Up)
Futura Marketing, Inc. • INTREN, Inc. • J&J Exhibitors Service, Inc. • Kayhan International • National Van Lines, Inc. • Overture Premiums & Promotions LLC • Smead Manufacturing Company • VIVA USA
Major Sponsors ($15,000 - $24,000)
AT&T • Deere & Company • Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. • Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses • Kraft Foods • Macy's • MasterCard Worldwide • Northern Trust • Office Depot • PepsiCo Inc. • RubinBrown LLP • Southwest Airlines Co. • Staples, Inc. • Target • U.S. Department of Energy • University of Illinois • Walmart • Wrigley
Workshop Sponsors ($10,000)
Cardinal Health • Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis • Harley-Davidson Motor Company • Health Care Service Corporation/Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois • The University of Chicago • The University of Chicago Medicine
WBE Sponsors ($5,000)
The Bureau of Engraving, Inc. • Evergreen Supply Company • KellyMitchell Group • United Scrap Metal
Premier Media Sponsors ($50,000 Value and Up)
Chicago Sun-Times • Comcast • Crain's Chicago Business • NBC5 Chicago • Pioneer Press • WVON Radio
Media Sponsors ($10,000 - $49,000)
Black EOE Journal • Enterprising Women • Hispanic Network • MBE • MBE Connect • Minority Business News USA (MBN USA) • Minority Entrepreneur • Professional Woman's • Project Eve • Today's Chicago Woman (TCW) • U.S. Veteran's • Women's Enterprise Magazine (WE USA)
Official Carrier: United Airlines
Official Technology & Cyber Café Sponsors: CDW and Microsoft Corporation
Official TV Sponsor: NBC5 Chicago
Alto Tech • Sue Bhatia • Chicago Sun-Times • Chris Ruys Communications • Comcast • Christie Hefner • Hoopla Communications • Michelle Kantor • Levy Security Corporation • McCormick Place • Mindy Mercaldo • Motorola Solutions, Inc. • NBC5 Chicago • Cheryl Pearson-McNeil • Pioneer Press • Lisa Price • Laura Ricketts • Allison Rosati • Terry Savage • SAVOR...Chicago at McCormick Place • Richelle Shaw
*The Deluxe Corporation Foundation is serving in an honorary capacity.
The Women's Business Development Center and its Board of Directors also extends their gratitude to all exhibitors, advertisers, breakfast and luncheon table purchasers, auction donors, Contract Connections participants, vendors, and each and every individual that participated in the success of this year's event. We could not do this without you!
- WBDC: 26th Annual Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon
- WBDC: 26th Annual Women's Forum Breakfast
- WBDC: Conference Co-Chairs
- WBDC: The Importance of Parity (Welcome Letter)
- WBDC: Schedule and Business & Buyers Mart
- Hedy Ratner on life, love and the pursuit of equal-opportunity business
- Baby boomer basics for starting a business
The Women's Business Development Center's (WBDC) Annual Entrepreneurial Woman's Conference is what you make it. If you have a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish, and a plan to get there, it can be a richly rewarding experience.
Similar to most attendees, you'll probably want to make many new connections, as well as get tips from other business owners that spark ideas and insights for your own business. That is all the more achievable if you follow these tips.
Make a Plan
Once you register for the conference, check out the various sessions and decide where to invest your time. You'll want to attend the Women's Forum Breakfast and Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon; visit the exhibit area, the Women's Business & Buyers Mart; check out the morning workshop; and sit in on some of the Ask the Experts afternoon roundtable discussions. You may be tempted to skip the late afternoon reception. Don't! Some of the best connections have been made at the event's grand finale.
Pack Your Gear
To gather useful information, you'll need a pen and notebook or an electronic device on which to make notes. Bring at least 100 business cards. Though you won't be able to meet all 2,000 people who attend the conference, you will probably meet scores of new people. The conference goody bag will enable you to temporarily store the booklets, brochures, business cards and other information you collect. Oh, and wear comfortable shoes.
Bring an Open Attitude
The Entrepreneurial Woman's Conference is a chance to connect with old friends and make new ones. Try to avoid the temptation of only spending time with those you already know, and use the time to meet new people. All events have a way to participate and network, even if it's just at your table at breakfast or lunch. Introduce yourself to others, introduce others to others, share what you know, ask questions. If you signed up for Contract Connections, be sure to attend all your appointments. These types of interactions are one of the best ways to make the conference meaningful.
Share What You're Learning in Real Time
Tweet or post Facebook status updates throughout the day and make sure to add hashtag #ewc26 to your tweets so others following the conference can see what you're tweeting. Let your fans, friends and followers know in advance that you'll be sharing tips direct from the conference.
Have a Good Time
We've all seen folks at conferences that are taking it way too seriously. Relax. Though the conference shouldn't be considered a vacation day, it's a time to throw stress out the window. Stay open to new ideas, and figure out where the real opportunities to learn are. Try to avoid excessively checking your smartphone. You can do that more easily if you have someone back at the office keeping an eye on your email, or if you've set up an auto-respond message, noting you're away for the day.
Consider posting a blog about your experience, and offer your most meaningful speaker quotes or business development tips. Follow up with all your contacts, maybe even those you already knew. Add new contacts to your address book, and connect with them on social media channels, especially LinkedIn. Read through the literature you pick up, and decide what you want to hold onto.
Professional conferences can be a great way to learn, especially if you prepare in advance and go with the right attitude. Conversations started at these events can be invaluable and often lead to new directions and connections that help you take your business to the next level. Make the most of your day, and don't be surprised if it leads to new ideas and new business.
The 26th Annual Entrepreneurial Woman's Conference will be held on Thursday, September 20, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at McCormick Place-West, 2301 S. Indiana, Chicago. For more information or to register, visit www.wbdc.org or call (312) 853-3477, ext. 240.
Stay connected! Follow @WBDC on Twitter and use official conference hashtag #ewc26. Here's where you can find us: