WE Inspire Networking TableOn March 30th, Main Street Web Development attended the first annual Women Entrepreneurs Inspire Conference in Oklahoma City. With a goal of 400 attendees, the Oklahoma State University Riata Center for Entrepreneurship outdid themselves with an attendance of over 650 women entrepreneurs! Talk about exciting!! I’m here to tell you that the future of America was sitting all in one room that Tuesday. I’ve been to lots of conferences in my various fields of study, and I’ve never been to a more motivating venue.

The conference was not full of hype and marketing hogwash that fills the typical marketing conference, however. It was real women telling real stories of how they rose from average to extraordinary in their careers. It was real women sitting around me living the true American dream of creating their own jobs and jobs for other people out of their sheer determination and persistence.

Listen to this line up of some of the main speakers:

  • Shannon Carter, who launched Crayons to Computers, a free school supply store for teachers that is now found in 41 cities around the country
  • Cordia Harrington, “The Bun Lady”, founder, CEO, and president of the Tennessee Bun Company, who supplies buns to national chains such as McDonald’s, Chili’s, and Pepperidge Farm.  She also founded several other hugely thriving companies.
  • Maxine Clark, founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop® and winner of many, many prestigious awards
  • Dian Stai, founder of Owen Healthcare, and perhaps my favorite speaker of all, for her bravery to take her company forward when all the odds were against her

Both of the breakout sessions I attended were led by Dr. Michael Morris, the N. Malone Mitchell Chair in Entrepreneurship at OSU and head of the new School of Entrepreneurship at OSU.  Dr. Morris taught sessions on “Guerilla Marketing: Radical Thinking is the Key” and “Types of Ventures and Types of Entrepreneurs: Knowing Where You are Going”.  Both of these sessions gave me valuable insight into my own goals and plans and how I can best go about accomplishing them.

Attending the WE Inspire conference gave me a new appreciation for networking. I’ve always believed in networking–establishing relationships with people outside of my usual circles for our mutual benefit and future potential. But I’ve never before realized so much potential in once place for women that I truly need to have in my life both now and in the future. I met people like Emily Ginn, a virtual assistant, who I might need to call on for administrative work in the future; Amy Morgan, a corporate training consultant and fellow web designer, with whom I am discussing business processes with; Jami Cervantes, a health insurance representative, who gave me some very valuable advice about health insurance for small business owners; Shea Alexander, an artist, designer, and crafter who is starting her own business sewing handmade items.  And the list goes on. When I signed up for the conference, I thought I was signing up for good conference speakers and a chance to market my product. I had no idea I would walk away with relationships I intend to keep for the rest of my life.

My friends and fellow entrepreneurs Christa Murphy, Jenni McCadams, and Cara Perez joined me as I set up a table for the Networking Reception.  I seriously could not have done this without them.  We joked on the way there: “Main Street Web Development.  Have awning, will travel.”  Bill designed and built an awning frame for the event, and I designed a pattern and sewed the canopy for it.  It was a marvelously fun project, and it really made the table look more look like a little storefront.  MSWD is not located on Main Street, but the clients we are aiming to reach are those small businesses that are typically located on Main Street in any Smalltown, U.S.A.  We want to give small businesses a chance to have great-looking websites in a price-range they can afford.  But I digress.  At our booth, we had the 24″ iMac scrolling through our portfolio and theme gallery, and it garnered lots of attention from passersby, as did the FREE WEBSITE GIVEAWAY we offered for those who gave us their contact information.  Very few people turned down the opportunity to win a free website.  We even gave extra chances to win for those who did homework, like becoming a fan on Facebook, linking to our website, etc.

And that brings me to the original point of this article–the WINNER.  Join me in congratulating Mary Jane Maness, a Broker with Heartland Realty & Consulting, LLC.  Mary Jane is a delightful lady, and she does NOT have a website at all, so we are absolutely thrilled to give her the opportunity to get a free website for a whole year.  What a great way to start the spring!  Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest.

The WE Inspire Conference was a very profitable and enjoyable event, and we at Main Street Web Development look forward to next year’s event.  If you live in Oklahoma and aspire to be an entrepreneur, you definitely won’t want to miss it.