When David Olofson decided he wanted to connect with other small businesses in the Fond du Lac area, the owner of DD&P Services learned of a new group with networking at its core: The Imagination Network.
“It’s just a great forum to meet others in similar situations,” Olofson says about the monthly gatherings. “You can share ideas, and what is or isn’t working as you grow.”
Joules of Nature owner Susan Sokoloski’s experience with the group is comparable, but as an entrepreneur, she calls it the spark needed to keep pushing her olive oil soap products. “Everyone is supportive and I get new ideas at every meeting,” says Sokoloski. “We are building some great relationships in the business community.”
Imagination Network is just 10 months old, yet those who are involved already consider it a must-attend event with education, nurturing and connecting the goal of each month’s agenda. Jo Ann Giese-Kent, director of entrepreneurship and business intelligence for the Fond du Lac County Economic Development Corporation, calls the Imagination Network a perfect addition.
“The excitement about each meeting shows there’s a need to open connections to the resources available for helping an entrepreneur, inventor, or small business owner succeed,” Giese-Kent says. “And we want anyone with this interest from east central Wisconsin to come to the table to make it happen.”
The February meeting is a recent example, with the largest number of attendees to date at 35, and 11 were there for the first time. The topic of funding a new idea topped the discussion, with experts on hand to talk about loans, grants, and even attracting investors. But Giese-Kent says there’s a bigger picture for the future of what’s developing through the group.
“Making the connections and using the expert resources will lead to more start-ups happening and eventually more jobs,” she says.
It’s a goal that sounds good to Olofson. “I hope to utilize this networking to build business partners in all types of areas,” he says. “And eventually it would mean getting bigger and adding employees to my own business.”
THURSDAY, MARCH 6: The St. Norbert College CEO Breakfast and Strategy Series will present Kate Burgess, CEO of Elevate97 (formerly Fulfillnet) at the F.K. Bemis International Center at St. Norbert College in De Pere from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. The cost is $60. To register, contact Jamie McGuire at [email protected].
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12: Women in Management-Fox Cities will host its meeting from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fox Banquets Rivertyme Catering in Appleton, featuring speaker Shana Conradt. The cost is $15 for members and $17 for non-members. The registration deadline is Monday, March 10. Visit www.wimiwi.org.
THURSDAY, MARCH 13: The Converters Expo 2014 will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Lambeau Field Atrium in Green Bay. The cost is $45. To register, visit www.convertersexpo.com.
THURSDAY, MARCH 20: The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry will host its Cultivate: Business Growth Series event from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Neenah Riverwalk. For more information, visit www.foxcitieschamber.com.
FRIDAY, MARCH 28: Propel Oshkosh Young Professionals Network will host a casino night fundraiser, “Propel Prohibition and Poker,” at the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center from 7 to 10 p.m. Proceeds go toward the Oshkosh Community Education Fund. Tickets are $35. For more information, contact Zack Pawlosky at (920) 267-7922 or email [email protected].