Chicago Events Celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018

Ladies! This week is a good week to network and meet other amazing, entrepreneurial women in Chicago for International Women’s Day on Thursday, March 8, 2018. I went to a beauty event with the Tulle Project today and as we were introducing ourselves, one women shared the four, yes four jobs she has. Another woman, in awe, noted how ambitious Chicago women are. I wholeheartedly believe that. I encourage you to meet these Chicago girl bosses this week at one of the many Chicago events for International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018. Look for events and opportunities to connect all month long for women’s history month.

Quick note: International Women’s Day theme is #PressForProgess.

Global Strategist Association Event:

The Global Strategists Association is hosting a luncheon in honor of International Women’s Day to discuss opportunities for women of color.

Details:

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location: The DuSable Museum of African American History

RSVP

1871 Event:

1871, a Chicago incubator for startups is hosting a day of workshops and speaking events for women. 1871 is such a great resource that female founded companies like this 3D printing jewelry company, this beauty services company that is now offering company perks to GrubHub, and this designer clothes and accessories startup all used to help grow their business.

This event series has several sessions that you can drop into throughout the day. I’m personally looking forward to the Building Your Company’s Brand Panel Discussion.

Details:

Time: 8 am – 9 pm

Location: 1871, Merchandise Mart

RSVP

SheSays Chicago Event:

SheSays Chicago, a Chicago chapter of a national organization of women in creative fields, is putting together an event with Leo Burnett on Thursday, March 8, 2018 right after work.

I’ve been attending SheSays Chicago events for years and even spoke at one of the panels about networking. You can read about some of my past coverage of their events like Turning Passion into Profit and Networking Advice from Edelman, PR Agency.

There will be a panel discussion.

MODERATOR:

Jessica Papilla, Data Analyst at Leo Burnett

PANEL:

Monika Black, PhD, CPC | Chief Strategy Officer at DyMynd

Kayte Malik, CEO and Co-founder of Dresscode

Beth Sehgal, Global Director of Diversity & Inclusion for A.T. Kearney

Priya Shah, Founder and Executive Director of The Simple Good

Details:

Time: 5:30 – 8:00 pm

Location: Leo Burnett Office

RSVP

Ladies Get Paid Event:

Ladies Get Paid, an organization that helps women achieve their professional goals and get equal pay, is hosting an International Women’s Day event at Ace Bounce. This looks like a causal event to get drinks and meet other professional women.

Details:

Time: 5:30-7:30 pm

Location: Ace Bounce

RSVP

WeWork Kenzie Event:

WeWork Kinzie is hosting an International Women’s Day workshop for freelancers and female entrepreneurs. Over 150 people have signed up for this event. In this workshop, speakers will present four topics: (a) finding the courage to lead, (b) the foundations of entrepreneurship, (c) a woman’s story of finding her purpose, and (d) establishing a position of influence in a competitive industry.

Details:

Time: 6:00-9:00 pm

Location: WeWork Kinzie

RSVP ($20)

She Means Business Event:

She Means Business will be presenting a panel discussion and gender equality and female leadership in the workplace.

The Panelists:

• Naima Prince, Expert Budget and Financial Analyst at GSA

• Lindsey Branding, Controller at Hireology

• Colleen Wilson, Founder & CEO of Collaborate Chicago

• Holly Glowaty, Co-Founder at K+H Connection and Founding Co-Producer at Flourish

• Katharine Hebenstreit, President & COO at Link Capital

Details:

Time: 5:30-8:00 pm

Location: Topstep Trader

RSVP

Edgewater Chamber of Commerce:

If drinks aren’t enough for you, the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce is hosting a dinner crawl. Get all the savory details below!

Time: 5 pm

Location: Edgewater, over 10 restaurants

RSVP

Conclusion:

I hope to see you at one of the Chicago events for International Women’s Day or you can join the conversation online using the hashtag: #PressForProgress.

How do you build a professional community in Chicago? Tag me on Twitter or Instagram @windycitycosmo.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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What’s a Typical Day for a Blogger?

So, what do bloggers do besides look amazing in photos and get facials?

One of the scariest and coolest parts about being a blogger is that you get to make your own schedule.

The thing is that it can either be a full day or a light day depending on how many brands you’re working with or events you have.

Unlike a job where you are assigned your work, as a blogger you have to create your work.

I run Windy City Cosmo, so I have to develop the content calendar, reach out to experts and entrepreneurs, interview, and write articles and then promote them and my brand.

I’m going to go through some of the aspects of blogging and then give you a one minute recap of what a typical day looks like for bloggers.

Content Creation

Content creation is one of my favorite aspects of blogging, and I’m currently looking for a full time job in that area.

There’s many ways to come up with content ideas. I look at the different areas that my blog covers – beauty/health, building relationships, food/bar/travel scene and how to grow a business. I like to find events or people to interview for each of these topics.

Usually, I look at magazines like CS magazine or TimeOut Chicago. I also receive Google Alerts. And I subscribe to publications and organizations with similar beats like the tech and entrepreneurial news from ChicagoInno, 1871, Women Tech Founders and Built in Chicago, or the global beauty and business brands and bloggers like Marie Claire and Forbes and On-Air Beauty Expert, Deepica Mutyala, as well as connecting with people in these areas like my interview with the former editor of Vogue. I also join local Chicago groups like Creative Women’s Co. which I’ve volunteered for their events (they also have a great podcast), or Ms. Tech which I’ve covered for Windy City Cosmo, and I’ve written for them.

Then, I also think about ideas or events that I would be interested in and what might be good for that time of the year. I like to think in terms of season or holidays, but’s it’s also so important to think about evergreen content – content that is relevant all year round.

Keywords and Relevance

When I think about writing an article, I have to think of what people are searching for as well. Writing for the web is kindof like filing except you want to make sure you write something engaging not just robotic. (Hint: start with the headline). There’s a system created by Google and it’s called SEO – search engine optimization. If you label your document correctly (through your title and keywords in your post), people will know it’s relevant when they search for it. It becomes more relevant when you link to other documents/articles, and even more relevant when people share it and talk about it. You can learn some more tips about SEO here. One of my favorite authors about the subject is Orbit Media.

When I write an article I think about the specific topic I’m addressing and if it will be relevant and if it is worth filing away for reference. The only caveat is if it’s timely. I’ve learned that it’s hard to compete with bigger brands when it comes to timely news – but just because you can’t break the news, you can create a voice and opinion from that news. People like Luvvie from Awesomely Luvvie have grown their audience from doing that and writing for popular websites.

Photos

Photos are an important part of blogging. This can be the main part of blogging for some bloggers. They will have photo shoots almost everyday or spend a Saturday shooting looks for the week.

Most bloggers with recommend Canva which helps you easily create pictures for your blog. For photo editing, people use different apps. I’ve enjoyed Snapseed, which I learned about from a fashion designer.

Writing a Post

Writing an article can take awhile. There’s a lot of aspects to creating content and writing can sometimes be the hardest for bloggers. The main parts of the article to focus on is the intro and the headline and having a keyword. But, also don’t neglect the conclusion and how someone would share or learn from your post. Hubspot has a great class about how to create content for different mediums. I learned about how to take one post and truly reuse the content to get more traffic.

Another overlooked part of blogging is editing. I will recommend Grammarly for editing. If you don’t have someone who can look at your work, Grammarly can be that free extra set of eyes. It’s a Chrome plug-in that you can use on WordPress or even for your emails and social media posts.

Testing Content

I’ve read a lot of tips from other bloggers and also followed them. I learned that having a theme or style whether that’s your Instagram filter or tone on your blog have helped them to grow their following. If you look at Once Upon a Dollhouse, a blog about two best friends, they are always wearing creative outfits like twin. Chicago blogger, Emma Lenhart has a similar filter in all of her Instagram filters and she talks about her process here.

Bloggers also experiment with their posts. For Instance, Macy Stucke found out that her pictures would get reposted if she was at a crosswalk. In a podcast I’ve listened to The Chris Loves Julia Podcast and Julia talks about how she would post a few different photos to figure out what her audience liked. For instance she would post a photo of a room and then she would post a photo of someone in the room to see what had more engagement on Instagram. A huge part of creating content as a blogger is testing content.

Events: Hosting or Attending

One of the best parts of blogging is meeting new people. To do this, you go to events or you create your own and invite others.

Some bloggers are know for their events like Once Upon a Dollhouse threw an amazing Friendsgiving at The Four Seasons.

A lot of bloggers simply go to events. I average anywhere from an event a week to four events a night depending on my schedule. Some of my favorite events was a staycation in Rosemont or a cocktail party with The Everygirl at Celeste or the Popculture themed real estate party.

Gaining a Following from Social Media

Another main aspect of blogging is social media. I spend about an hour to well, I really don’t want to admit how much time I spend on social media a day. I’m primarily on Instagram or Snapchat and Facebook and then I also go on LinkedIn and Twitter. Some of the main things I do on these platforms is follow bloggers like me or people I want to connect with for articles or events or brand sponsorships (so PR).

Then I also reach out to my followers and see who they are following. I spend a good chunk looking at content and using that to think of my own brand.

Another thing I use social media for is outreach. I write comments and I go to other websites and read and comment on articles. I think when I first started blogging I was so focused on my content, but now I realize three years later that caring about other people’s content and learning about your followers helps you build a more engaged brand.

How to Make a Business from Blogging:

While writing for my blog and going to events is fun, I’ve really wanted to turn my passion into a profit. I have to make blogging a business by applying for speaking opportunities and networking and working with brands for sponsorships. Other ways bloggers make money is through affiliate links, coaching bloggers in how to blog, freelancing and managing brands social media profiles.

Sometimes I join blogger groups, but I also go to a lot of events and my relationships with PR people from when I was a journalist have really helped me grow my brand. From that, I’ve met some great PR people at parties and on social media.

Making Connections Through Social Media and Email Marketing

One of the key ways to connect is either going to parties and running into the same people and also combining that with social media and email marketing. One of my tips is to find people going to the same party as you and connecting with them before the event on social media. You’ll be surprised that people look for you at the party when you follow them and drop a line. I also connect with people after a party by using the Instagram Geo filter to see who tagged photos or by using the hashtag.

Another good way to follow-up is by email. I have a few templates I use. You want to include a blurb about your blog and how you can help each other. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying – hey, I’m a blogger. I cover this beat. I’d love to know more about the brands you’re working with and how I might be able to help your clients reach their target markets.

It’s also good to see which brands are working with bloggers. You’ll notice that Chicago bloggers like Emma Lenhart and LincolnParkMin have sponsorships with Glossier.

Other sides of the blogging business include setting my rates and invoicing.

Understanding Algorithms and Social Media Rules

Another aspect of being a blogger is reading about new algorithms on Facebook or Instagram. A lot of fellow bloggers have been shadow banned which means their post won’t show up in the hashtag feeds because Instagram feels that they violated their terms of use. Chicagogrammers, a Chicago based Instagram community, has a weekly newsletter about Instagram influenced trends and regulations.

A Blogger’s Daily Life

Below is a one minute video of what my Monday schedule looks like.

There’s a lot of aspects to blogging. I don’t do all of these tasks everyday, but I do touch on them in some form or another. I know bloggers who delegate their tasks or who build a team and others like me who do everything themselves and sometimes have guest contributions.

What’s your favorite part about blogging?

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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How to Build a Valuable Network

Congratulations. You have 500+ contacts on LinkedIn. You have them. But do you know your network?

Recently, I took a marketing job at an innovation consulting firm, PreScouter, Inc. I love it for several reasons. Besides working with smart people (corporate America, Ph.D. students, and critical thinkers in general), the first and the main reason that I love marketing is because I can connect with people.

I have been building my network for years by interviewing CEOs and learning from startups, going to Paris Fashion Week, attending networking mixers at 1871 and Ms. Tech, and meeting new faces at niche events or rooftop parties.

While that’s a good step, it’s the first step.

After you have had your fill of free wine and pizza, I invite you to look around the room.

How to Build a Valuable Network:

Here are the top four ways to build a network of value – a network that can help you meet your business goals and personal goals.

Have a point.

This is the reason you are all here. Why are you networking, to begin with?

Ask yourself:

  • Do you want a job?
  • Do you want to do business with this company?
  • Do you see yourself needing their services or partnering in the future?
  • Do you have common interests like cooking or attending events?

When you find out why you want to connect, it’s easier to search for people who can help you meet your goals. It’s also easier to see which events to attend that align with your goals.

BUT, remember….

Don’t nix people. I went to a networking event, and someone was like “oh, you’re in marketing, I don’t want your business card.”

You never know how you can leverage your contacts in the future, so the general rule of being nice to everyone applies. However, as marketing and sales people know, there are warm leads, cold leads, and hot leads. Categorize the people you meet so you can better approach them people on LinkedIn or Twitter or at events. It will help you meet your goals faster.

Key takeaway: Not everyone in your network will be valuable.

Be helpful before you need help.

One of the reasons you build your network is not just for yourself, it’s also to help other people. A niche interest group might need a local Chicago designer, and you are part of SheSays Chicago so that you can connect a new contact with your network.

One of the rules that Robert Cialdini shares in his book, “Influence: Science and Practice” is the rule of reciprocity. When you do something nice for someone, they want to return the favor.

Key takeaway: Give first.

Do a maintenance check.

Are there people in your network who you don’t know?

Just because you cannot help each other at the moment, doesn’t mean that you should delete them from your database. Keep up to date notes about how you met (you can add private notes on LinkedIn profiles to remind you) and how you might be able to help each other based on interests and projects.

In the book “Never Eat Alone,” Keith Ferrazzi shows readers how to build a spreadsheet to keep track of contacts in terms of the last point of contact and how you might help each other. You can download the template here. 

After you find a method to keep track of your contacts. You want to make sure to stay in touch. The longer you go without talking with someone, the harder it becomes to connect – especially if you only met at a 3-hour networking event.

Key takeaway: Reach out to your network at least two times per year.

Be interested and up to date.

Most importantly, find ways to be on your network’s radar. There are great resources like Google Alerts and LinkedIn Updates, to name a few.

Subscribe to other people’s blogs. Check the updates from your LinkedIn updates section. Share an event that one of your friends is planning. Send an email to reconnect every six months.

You will miss so many opportunities because you don’t pay attention. Your friends, your family, and your connections are doing some amazing things, and unless they are in PR, they probably are bad at promoting them. So, dig in and get interested in what other people are doing. This is how you can see how to help one another.

Key takeaway: Pay attention to other’s people’s lives (and the headlines) for conversation starters.

Ultimately, there are many ways to start relationships. I find that the hardest part is to turn an introduction into a relationship to meet your goals and help others meet theirs. I hope some of these approaches will help you meet your business goals.

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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How early would you wake up for your career?

It’s 4:42 a.m. I have three minutes before I absolutely have to open my eyes, pull myself out of bed, and start my morning weekday routine. Ugh, mornings. If I leave the house by 5:28, I can make it to the train just in time.

I’m not a morning person. I used to roll out of bed at 7:30 to get to work by 8:15, and part of me misses those days. But for the last three months, I’ve been commuting from Indiana to the Loop for work. Three months—and it’s finally starting to feel normal, almost easy.

Thousands of people commute from the suburbs to Chicago every day. It’s so popular for workers to commute from Indiana that in 2015, the South Shore Line added a once-per- day express service.

By begrudgingly rising before the sun, I save more than an hour every day in commute time. And I’m even luckier to have a fantastic boss who lets me leave the office at 3:35 to catch the express train home, too. Even so, I spend 12+ hours away from home on work days.

Is commuting really worth it?

Before I started commuting, my work schedule was much shorter. Now, I commute 3 hours per day, and I go to bed at 9:30 pm. That means I have roughly 3 hours each weeknight to live my life: make dinner, take care of my dogs, spend time with my husband and friends, catch up on my favorite shows, and all of those “fun” adult things like clean the house, do laundry (ha ha, laundry), and run errands.

Commuting to work can certainly take a toll:

The daily commute. Photo: Kate Allison

Look at my face traveling to work Monday morning (on the left) versus my afternoon commute at the end of the week (on the right). Yikes. I’m 26. Those frown lines should not be there just yet. Personally, I moved out of the city to change settings, to feel more relaxed, to get away from the hustle and bustle. My home is now quieter and void of the constant hum of Chicago.

How could my face do this in the course of a week? It hasn’t stayed that way, thank goodness. I recoup over the weekend and start over fresh by the following Monday. But I’ve come to the conclusion that commuting, along with the drastic change in my sleep schedule, has started the process of creating a permanent grumpy cat face several years too early.

But it’s not all bad.

But don’t take that to mean I’m against commuting; there are plenty of benefits, and commuting 3 hours a day isn’t all bad. I use my time on the train to catch up on everything: sleep, paying bills, personal projects, emails, shopping, planning my grocery list, writing this blog. I try to get the most out of it in one form or another I, like so many others, have traded a short commute for the opportunity, for career growth. Though living in Chicago isn’t for everyone, it has so much to offer workers.

Companies are drawn to this city, where talent thrives and the central location can’t be beaten. Many of the people I see on the train every day have been commuting for the bulk of their professional lives. I work with one woman who has traveled from Indiana to Chicago for almost 30 years. She often says to me, “Commuting isn’t so bad, huh?”

And I have to admit: I’m not quite there yet. It’s getting easier, but it might take a little more time to get used to all of the travel. And I’m certainly thankful for the train. (I can’t imagine driving into Chicago every day; that’s a different topic for someone else to explore.)

So where does that leave us?

Commuting is a worthwhile sacrifice for so many people in Chicago. We spend extra time away from home to pursue a career or to support our families. And perhaps it wears on some of us more than others.

Do I think I can do this for the next 30 years? Probably not. But until I see those awful frown lines start to take permanent hold of my face, I’m up for the challenge.

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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Chicago SEO Specialist Travels the World While Working 9-5

It’s not everyday when your group of friends consists of digital nomads, but for me, my closest friends have chosen to work remotely. It’s not because they don’t want to travel to work, but because they want to travel.

One of my friends, who I met by leading an accountability group for SheSays Chicago, is almost into her first year as a digital nomad.

She’s traveled to Europe and the Eastern  Seaboard and she’s about to take a Greek Mythology course in the very country. Her name is Molly Koeneman. I had the pleasure of catching up with her after I ran into her at Hostelling International, where she was staying and where I happen to volunteer.

We caught up over a basic dinner – kale and french fries at State and Lake while she was in town checking in with the company she works for in Chicago.

Molly Koeneman is an SEO specialist who travels. the world while working for a Chicago. business.

Windy City Cosmo: What inspired this change?*

Molly: I traveled to Munich and Berlin with my masters program last spring, and it was the first time I used my passport in almost 10 years. It was a wake-up call; I have always wanted to travel, and I didn’t know what I was waiting for anymore.

Windy City Cosmo: How far in advance do you plan out?

Molly: Not very far at all (insert awkard laugh). I like to think of it as planned spontaneity; I outline where I’d like to go and where I could go, but normally don’t buy the transit or decide where I’m staying until the time is near. Especially being international, I like getting local and other tourists’ perspective of what can be skipped and where to find the hidden treasures.

It’s really stressful; I don’t recommend it. And yet, I’ve been living my life like this for almost a year, so maybe I do recommend it.

Windy City Cosmo: Where do you find your deals?

Molly: I use Skyscanner and other cheap flight sites for travel, but I haven’t perfected the cheap flights yet. My best travel hack at the moment is to book a hotel or hostel directly. Booking.com, Hotels.com and Hostelworld.com are great for shopping for a place, but they normally upcharge, especially on weekends.

Windy City Cosmo: How do you keep in touch with friends and family?

Molly: I got an international phone plan through T-Mobile. It’s pricey, but it comes with unlimited media that I can use as a hotspot for work if I need it, and it comes with free text messaging. For calling, I use Google Hangout. It’s free to call US numbers and cheaper to call international numbers. My T-Mobile charges 20 cents a minute, so Google Hangout is a cheap-cheat. Other than that, I’m on Gchat for work and that’a how I banter with my coworkers and my friends during the day.

Windy City Cosmo: Are you a Nomad?

Molly: That’s the colloquial, sure. I’m a digital nomad because I live and work wherever I happen to be. The joke I use most, though, is that I’m homeless… or that I live with my parents. All of the above are true to some extent.

Windy City Cosmo: What is the hardest part of working and traveling?

Molly: Time management. When I first started working remotely, I was in Germany with a 7-hour time difference. I’d wake up and work during the day, trying to get ahead, and then feel obligated to be on the computer during Chicago office hours. So, I was basically working all day. I was home sick, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, and it was tough. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself and to enjoy this opportunity. Jobs and deadlines will always be there, and there will always be another, but having a beach all to yourself for sunrise… you don’t get that very often.

Windy City Cosmo: How do you stay on Central Time when you are traveling in different time zones?

Molly: I actually have a more difficult time with Eastern-Central time difference; it’s just close enough to confuse me. Being in Europe is great, though. I basically have the entire day to do what I like and then work at night. Sure, it sucks that I have to work at night, but my boss is very understanding about my flexible work. He might even have the impression that I’m always working, which benefits me.

Windy City Cosmo: Do you network or grow your professional community while abroad?

Molly: I’ve gone to a few networking events that I found on Eventbrite, but mostly I’m meeting other tourists or locals who work in completely different industries. As you can imagine, people find my work-life very interesting. Most of professional community is cultivated online.

Windy City Cosmo: What’s your best tip for travelling while working?

Molly: Enjoy it. Enjoy where you are. Even if you don’t travel very often and even if you’re in an office from 9 to 5, make sure you are enjoying your day. You can get another job, you can make more money, but you’ll never get this day back.

Now we want to hear from you. How do you find time to work and travel? Let me know by tagging #windycitycosmo on social media.

*Editor’s note: The answers to these questions have been updated as of July 4, 2016.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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