Pink Slip Party

Posted on Dec 1, 2009 :: Networking
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Gary Sikich and Rhonda Richards at the October Pink Slip party.

Expecting an awkward evening, prepared to discuss the unfortunate circumstances of unemployment, it was a relief the group was more lighthearted than disgruntled. Attendees slowly trickled in to The Woods Golf & Banquet Facility in Green Bay – within an hour the group had grown to just over 35. The majority came dressed for success. They were brought together for the area’s second Pink Slip party.

Lori Sengbusch had heard about events held across the country designed to connect the unemployed to potential employers and local resources. As the event and marketing manager for The Woods, she decided to organize a few Pink Slip parties in Northeast Wisconsin.

“There is definitely a need in the area,” says Sengbusch. “Many are finding themselves without a job after 30 years – they have no idea where to go or what to do.”

“I think a lot of people are lost when it comes to looking for a job,” says Shannon Stone, co-founder of The Spectrum Process in Green Bay. “Getting out and looking for a job can be overwhelming. The Pink Slip event can be a valuable resource.”

Pink Slip Parties are meant to connect individuals with local employers and fellow job seekers. Education also has a role. “It isn’t a job fair, it isn’t a business fair, it is just an opportunity to network with people,” Sengbusch explains.

The first Pink Slip party was held Sept. 10. Sengbusch spread the word through LinkedIn. Fifty individuals attended along with a plethora of media. “Some people came in not knowing what to expect,” says Sengbusch. “But I’d say most of the people that reached out were helped.”

The Oct. 8 event was slightly more intimate. Some faces were old, others were new; some had been without work for a few weeks, others more than a year. Job seekers came from as far as Oshkosh. A handful of employers were scattered within the crowd. Vendors lined a wall, equipped with information on relevant topics such as handling the financial unknowns and how to navigate a job search. One vendor was stirred to make the two-hour drive from Milwaukee after seeing last month’s press.

Lynn Winchell, a former purchasing manager at RR Donnelley in Green Bay, lost her job a year ago. Discouraged after being let go after 31 years of dedicated service – and exhausted from the traditional job hunt tactics – she had been encouraged to try the Pink Slip party. While she admits being anxious walking through the door, Winchell was soon seen mingling and making contacts.

Judi Schroeder, an attendee at the September Pink Slip event, had made her own set of contacts. “I did follow up on them,” she says. “I have since found employment, it wasn’t through a Pink Slip contact, but the event gave me valuable ideas and boosted my confidence.”

There’s no fee to participate, although vendors are charged a nominal fee to offset the cost of hors d’oeuvres. There was a cash bar. The majority of attendees filled their plates and loosened up with a cocktail or two after the 5 p.m. arrival and before jumping into serious networking. Attendees sat down just after 6 p.m. to hear two short presentations.

Mike Suttner from The Spectrum Process revealed how one’s mindset impacts the goals set. Elliott followed with a demonstration on how to shred negative thoughts; he then discussed the importance of rehearsing a personal 30-second “commercial.” Inspired by Elliott’s energy, a few attendees took a turn broadcasting their commercial.

Sengbusch has Pink Slip parties planned through December. “After that, I don’t know what the economy is going to bring. We will see how the turnout is and if there is still a need,” she says. “If so, we will certainly continue the event, holding them on the second Thursday of the month starting again in the New Year.”

Elliott gives a piece of advice for those apprehensive to attend a Pink Slip party: “Relax and enjoy yourself. Walk in as though this is a get-together, meet as many people as possible.”