Women’s Networking Reimagined: From Ugly Duckling To SWAN

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Women’s Networking Reimagined: From Ugly Duckling To SWAN

Love it or hate it, networking is an important aspect of business. For extroverts, networking is a fun social opportunity; for introverts, an uncomfortable exercise in futility. Successful networking is not measured by how much fun you have, but by how many valuable connections you make. Both introverts and extroverts continue to network because it serves a purpose—when done well, that is. 

When I opened my business, I knew networking was a must, but it was more than I had bargained for. I wasn’t comfortable walking into a room of strangers where everyone else seemed to know each other. I was hoping to build relationships, but what I left with was a fist full of business cards and a barrage of elevator pitches. Happy hours were much worse. Let’s just say there were plenty of guys that were “happy” to hit on me. These failed networking experiences did not meet my need for professional relationships. 

At first, I thought it was just me, but many other women I talked to expressed a similar sentiment. So, I partnered with an extrovert to create a networking group for women that appealed to both introverts and extroverts. It started as a Facebook group where women could get to know each other and share personal struggles and victories. SWAN (Strong Women Arise Network) was designed to cultivate genuine relationships. The best part for me, as an introvert, is that when we gathered in person for a SWAN event, most people had at least one person they knew. 

As SWAN began to grow, more women wanted opportunities to meet in person. Our monthly events were great, but something more was needed. We needed the energy of the group as a whole. We needed a day that captured the support, excitement and love that embodied the Facebook group. In 2022, we had our first-ever SWAN Con! 

SWAN Con embodies our three core objectives: Inspiration, Education, and Connection.

Inspiration: Each woman that attends SWAN Con is at a different point in their career. Those new to their careers are inspired by women who have achieved success. Many of our natural leaders have expressed motivation to mentor women who are new to the business world. 

Education: SWAN Con provides opportunities throughout the day to learn from women thought leaders on relevant subjects, including “Managing the Conflict between Big Goals and Life Balance.”

Connection: This is what makes women say, “this group is different.” SWAN is a safe place for women to be real with each other. Our networking events include simple activities that facilitate natural conversation. At SWAN Con, women actively move around the room sharing, laughing and crying together as they remove the masks they feel they must wear elsewhere. 

Lastly, SWAN Con doubles as a fundraiser for WAR (Women At Risk International). Changing lives for all women is at the heart of every SWAN member. SWAN Con is a great way to pour into each other and grow our businesses, but we are meant for more than that. As strong women, we support those who do not have a voice. By supporting WAR, we are joining in the fight against human trafficking. 

Join us for a day that will fill your heart and expand your network. Register to attend SWAN Con ’23 on Friday, October 13, 2023 at Watermark Country Club. Take advantage of early registration by August 18 to get a free SWAN Con ’23 women’s tee ($25 value). We can’t wait to see you there!

Written by Angela Schalow, Founder of Strong Women Arise Network.

Courtesy of Strong Women Arise Network.

Photo Courtesy of Strong Women Arise Network. 


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