The recent gathering of female entrepreneurs at Parx East was three years in the making.
In early 2020, SCORE Bucks County was gearing up to host its fourth annual Women Building Businesses conference, which each year features an inspirational keynote speaker, informative panels and networking opportunities for women who are preparing to launch a business, or trying to take their current business to the next level.
Needless to say, the pandemic pushed the pause button on the event. But on June 14, following a three-year hiatus, 200 women hailing from Bucks County all the way to Washington, D.C. convened in Bensalem for the conference.
This was the largest turnout to date.
“Our goal for this conference was to provide practical, usable information to our women entrepreneurs, and I think all of the speakers delivered what we asked for,” said SCORE Bucks County chairwoman Linda Zangrilli.
NBC10 anchor Tracy Davidson, who was scheduled to be the keynote speaker in 2020, graciously agreed to keep the conference on her calendar for 2023. Attendees listened to Davidson’s speech, entitled “If You Only Knew,” which discussed her rise to fame amid challenges in her upbringing.
Davidson, who can usually be found sharing inspiring messages with groups of women when she isn’t on the air, said of her address, “It has to do with taking a pause. It has to do with distraction and it has to do with my past to the present. I think a lot of people would be surprised at where I came from. I think people have assumptions about women, and women in business, and they really have no idea.”
Zangrilli said of Davidson, “She was so warm, so welcoming. Everybody really liked her message. She also engaged with the audience on a personal level during the networking breaks.”
Throughout the day, attendees heard from a slew of successful women entrepreneurs, who covered a variety of relevant topics. In choosing the speakers, Zangrilli aimed to select women whose expertise would resonate with attendees and provide valuable insight that could be immediately implemented. Topics covered were derived from subjects that SCORE mentors hear day after day from clients.
“We tried to deliver what they need in their businesses,” said Zangrilli. “You don’t just need inspiration, you need information.”
Social media is a top issue for many SCORE clients, so Zangrilli enlisted social media consultant Jennifer Gardella, who discussed how to target ideal customers via social media channels.
Employment attorney Christina Reger offered a talk on HR tips for small businesses, focusing on up-to-date information on employee issues, as well as how laws are changing in the field.
Melinda Emerson, the SmallBizLady and author of several books, including Fix Your Business, outlined the “12 Ps” of running a successful small business. The short snippets helped break up the message into smaller pieces and made for an entertaining discussion.
Lynne Williams, an expert on LinkedIn, offered guidance surrounding personal branding on LinkedIn.
Sonya Pappas shared the importance of knowing your numbers in terms of women business owners properly valuing their products and services.
“Most of our clients have trouble in this area,” Zangrilli said. “They don’t take the time to analyze the costs associated with running their businesses and often don’t know if they are profitable. Consultants or service providers, women especially, have a hard time valuing their services.”
Colleen LaCoss, Women’s Business Enterprise Center East, director of certification and business development, discussed how to get a woman-owned business certified and what certification means.
Zangrilli made sure to acknowledge Ron Davis, Parx Casino’s director of diversity and development, for his support of SCORE’s women-focused events, including the 2024 Women Building Businesses conference, on which Zangrilli already has her sights set.
For more information on SCORE Bucks County, which offers free mentoring and workshops to small business owners, visit score.org/buckscounty.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org