January 18, 2019

RECAP: Alumni Coffee Connection at Columbia College Chicago

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Networking — lidia @ 10:00 am

This week, I attended Alumni Coffee Connection, a Columbia College Chicago Alumni networking event that I helped to plan. It featured Columbia College Chicago alumna from the ’90s, ’00s and ’10s.

The inspiring panel, Michele Anderson of Lookingglass Theatre Company, Maggie O’Keefe for 40th Ward Alderman and Meka Hemmon of SpiderMeka Photography, discussed how they used the skills and connections developed at Columbia, successes and challenges in their career, how all of their experiences led them to their current career path, and mentorship and why it’s important to have a mentor (or be a mentor for someone else).

Michele pointed out, you can “learn from good bosses and bad bosses.” And I loved what she said about her mother, and how she believed there were no limits for her daughter’s generation.

Maggie said “It’s OK to change careers—don’t apologize for wanting to change your path.” And Meka added “no decision is permanent (with the exception of children!)”

Coffee was provided by Back of the Yards Coffeehouse and Roastery, a roastery and cafe on the southwest side of Chicago (woot!) that is minority- and woman-owned.

Thank you to Shannon Langan of Columbia College and my fellow members of the alumni host committee, Alexandra Eidenberg of The Insurance People, Kate Nicolai of Wine Shop at Home, Rebecca Resman of Chicago Family Biking, Dafna Nussbaum, and Kate Alpert of Women Belong. And, thanks to the attendee who reminded me that I’m part of the Columbia College Chicago 20-year club! (BA in Graphic Design ’94)

June 3, 2014

Round-up: kicking LinkedIn up a notch

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Networking,Round-up — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

This week’s round-up features my latest obsession: LinkedIn. I never thought much about my profile, however after talking with a marketing coach, I decided to revamp mine and use it more actively—and found lots of great resources along the way.

  1. 10 Insights: How to Use LinkedIn to Build Business Success Faster than Your Competitors [Jeffbullas’s Blog]
  2. How to Use LinkedIn as an Effective Prospecting Tool [Smarter Freelancing Podcast]
  3. How to Attract Great Clients With LinkedIn [Smarter Freelancing Podcast]
  4. How I Used LinkedIn to Get a 41 percent Response Rate and 6 New Clients [biznik]
  5. How to Create a Compelling & Optimized LinkedIn Profile [Top Dog Social Media]
  6. Build a Killer LinkedIn Profile | Think-n-Drink, Chicago – LIVE EVENT TONIGHT 6/3

Have you found ways to maximize LinkedIn? Share your success stories.

Our Round-Up features useful business tidbits we’ve collected. See past Round-Ups here.

September 18, 2012

Non-traditional networking—perfect for a busy mom [CFC blog post]

Filed under: Networking — lidia @ 3:00 am

I’m a big fan of networking. I attend and host networking events quite often. However, now that I have a 1-year old, I don’t attend as many events as I used to. Honestly, I would rather spend my evenings with Little One.

A few good things have come out of this: 1) I have become more picky about the events I attend (making sure I will get value out of it), and 2) I have become a pro at non-traditional networking.

I recently wrote about non-traditional networking for the Creative Freelancer Blog. Read my post here and leave your comments!

Biz mamas: how do you manage networking when you have Little Ones at home?

• • •

See all of my small business posts on the Creative Freelancer Blog here.


July 11, 2011

Business cards going away? I don’t think so!

Filed under: Networking,Small Business — Tags: , , — lidia @ 11:13 am

A recent New York Times article spoke about how, in some circles, the business card is becoming a “relic.” [insert collective gasp from graphic designers everywhere]

My graphic designer-based opinions aside, I host networking events in Chicago and there is never a shortage of business cards being exchanged.

At the recent HOW Design Conference in Chicago, I saw business cards—from attendees and vendors alike—in myriad shapes and sizes, some using interesting formats or folds.

I understand the article’s point of view that in certain environments—such as tech conventions—people are exchanging contacts using technology (i.e. twitter handles or barcodes). But eventually those businesses will need to make themselves stand out or be memorable. And in a crowded marketplace, a well-designed business card can help your business stand out.

Business cards also keep you top-of-mind with the recipient. Many times, I keep a business card on my desk as a visual reminder to follow-up with someone. Can this be done with an electronic contact?

So yes, I think business cards will be stickin’ around.

Read my tips for making your business card more effective

What are your thoughts on the business card? Here to stay or going away?

July 1, 2011

Thinking of going to a conference? Do it!

Filed under: Networking,Small Business — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

Scenes from the HOW Design Conference in Chicago

Have you been thinking of attending an industry conference?

What’s stopping you? The cost, travel details, taking time off work? It can all be overwhelming. I know, I’ve been there.

Well, I’m here now to tell you: do it!

Having attended my first HOW Design Conference in Chicago just one week ago, I’m now saying top myself: “what took you so long?”

Here are a few of the post-conference perks I’ve enjoyed:

  • Returning to the office more excited about work
  • Ideas and inspiration to apply to projects I’m currently working on
  • Sketchbook full of ideas—for client and in-house projects, as well as growing my business
  • New creative vendor resources (plus special discounts and perks!)
  • Network of creative people to brainstorm with—and keep me on track with my goals
  • Renewed feeling of how much I love my job

The benefits were well-worth the cost of the conference—and I realized what an important investment in my business it was. And now I’m hooked…I’m already planning for the next conference!

So if you’re on the fence about going to a conference, I urge you to do it. Of course, it’s important to find one that’s right for you. But after you do your research, take the plunge—even if it means saving up the cash or rearranging your schedule.

Read my tips on designing the perfect conference experience.

Have you attended a conference and experienced a “post-conference high”? Or did you have the opposite reaction? Leave a comment!

July 28, 2010

Where, oh where, to network in Chicago?

Filed under: Local (Chicago),Networking — Tags: , , — lidia @ 2:31 pm

As I recently received a request from someone seeking Chicago networking events, I thought I would post a list of networking calendars that I’ve bookmarked.

Chicago networking calendars

And of course, I must mention Neighborhood Networking in Chicago, the monthly networking event that I co-host with my friend and fellow small biz owner, Elizabeth Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organizing Professionals.

Know of other Chicago networking calendars? Share the URL in the comments section.

March 17, 2010

One year of Neighborhood Networking, already?

Filed under: Networking — Tags: , — lidia @ 4:21 am

Join Neighborhood Networking next Tuesday to mix and mingle with fellow businesses at Katerina’s (1920 West Irving Park Road).

You can also help us toast Neighborhood Networking’s first anniversary! (can you believe it’s been a year already?)

Buy tickets in advance for $10 ($12 at the door).

Neighborhood Networking is hosted by Lidia Varesco Design and Elizabeth Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organizing Professionals, with BBR Chicago joining us as co-hosts.


Northcenter businesses: promote your business by donating an item to our raffle! Contact us for a donation form and details.

February 5, 2010

Neighborhood Networking heads to Lakeview!

Filed under: Local (Chicago),Networking — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 12:00 pm

The next stop for Neighborhood Networking is a neighborhood near and dear to my heart, having been a long-time resident: Lakeview.

Join myself along with my co-hostess Elizabeth Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organizing Professionals, and our co-hosts BBR Chicago (Business by Referral), for an evening of networking at local favorite Wishbone Restaurant (3300 N. Lincoln Avenue, Chicago IL) from 5:30-8:00 pm. Make sure you stay for our now-famous raffle, which always features items from local businesses.*

Buy tickets in advance for $10 ($12 at the door). Please RSVP if you plan to pay at the door.

*Lakeview businesses: Promote your business by donating an item to our raffle! Contact us for a donation form and details.

January 26, 2010

Network in the West Loop tonight!

Filed under: Local (Chicago),Networking — lidia @ 5:42 pm

Doing anything after work tonight? Join myself and my co-hostess Elizabeth Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organizing Professionsals for Neighborhood Networking: West Loop at Plush Restaurant & Lounge from 5:30-8 pm.We have a large variety of businesses attending… I just peeked at the list and I’m looking forward to seeing our regulars and meeting the newcomers!

Buy tickets in advance for $10 or pay $12 at the door (online ticket sales end at 2:30 pm). We hope to see you there!

January 14, 2010

Who me, network?

Filed under: Networking — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 8:00 am

That’s what I might have said years ago too. Many business owners avoid networking events for lots of reasons: there are too many people, I feel intimidated, I won’t make useful connections, I’m shy, the food will be lousy.

We—that is, myself and Elizabeth Lulu Miranda of Mercury Organizing Professionals—started Neighborhood Networking last year with these fears and concerns in mind. We envisioned an event that would be approachable and friendly, yet provide valuable networking opportunities. We also wanted to incorporate our values of supporting and promoting local businesses and communities. And we have been thrilled with the result! We have watched business connections being made, new clients found, and even friendships form as a result of our local networking events.

Now we invite you to join us! We will be heading to the West Loop, along with our co-host BBR Chicago (Business by Referral), on Tuesday, January 26th to kick off our first Neighborhood Networking event of 2010.

Stop by Plush Restaurant & Lounge (1104 W. Madison, Chicago IL) from 5:30-8:00 pm and mix and mingle with other businesses— as well as sample great appetizers from this local favorite. As usual, we’ll also have great raffle prizes from local businesses and our other generous raffle donors. Buy tickets in advance here.

We hope to inspire you to achieve your goals of doing more networking this year!

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