Last week I attended the National Women’s Enterprise Day in the Heritage Hotel Portlaoise. It was both inspirational and exhausting. The packed two day program included mentor sessions, workshops, presentations, case studies, many keynote speakers and plenty of opportunities to network.

A large contingent of female business women attended from Waterford and I traveled with three of them; Joyce O’Carroll from Wigworld, Jean Collins from The and my Galánta Events business partner Oonagh Garland.

Waterford Business Women at the National Women's Enterprise Day

Waterford Business Women at the National Women’s Enterprise Day

Oonagh and I took advantage of a mentor session on sales and marketing with Evan Mangan from The Marketing Crowd. Evan took the time to listen to our concerns and in turn gave us a huge amount of information to help us increase sales on our Bridal Survival Gift Sets and on SEO for our websites. The mentor sessions were only 30 minutes long and very strictly run with two women ringing a bell to signal the end of each session, but we managed to make the most of it.

The Social Media Workshop and presentation session was next on the agenda. Facilitated by Breda Stackpool and featured Beatrice Whelan talking about Blogging, Shane McAllister talking about apps for business and Aoife Porter, discussing SEO and ways to improve your website. Got pages of tips and suggestions from all three, in particular Beatrice on blogging, now all I need is the time. 🙁

After a quick break for tea and coffee we had the networking event with Caitlin O’Connor. It started off well, Caitlin is a leading expert on networking and she gave a passionate talk on how to network, giving tips on how to sell ourselves better and how to work the room and make the most of the connections. But then we were asked to network and this is where the fun began.

Networking with over 300 women at the National Women's Enterprise Day

Networking with over 300 women at the National Women’s Enterprise Day

There was well over 300 women in the room and we were all told to move around. The air conditioning was poor, the volume of over 300 high pitched voices was piercing and you just about had time to introduce yourself and your business to a new contact when she rang a bell and screamed at us all to move on. It was an interesting exercise but I think best suited to a group of 50.

The evening ended with a very funny and uplifting speech from Minister Kathleen Lynch, T.D. before the buffet dinner. The food was great but the buffet service of two people for the amount of people wasn’t. There was nearly war and you just don’t mess with hungry and tired women but at least we were given a complimentary glass of wine 😉

Thursday’s events were facilitated by the lovely Colette Fitzpatrick and began with an exceptional speech from Eleanor McEvoy from Budget Energy and boy does she have balls. She spoke about her career, how she creates and builds companies and then sells them on. Her emphases was on customer service, “Look after your customer and your customer will become your best selling tool”.

Next we had the ‘Pitch Perfect Workshop’ with the Dragons’ Den Pitch Coach, Catherine Moonan. She did an exercise on how to create the perfect ‘elevator’ pitch and how to deliver it. It was a hard exercise to do with the limited time and volume of noise but when I have the time, I plan to sit down and try it again at home ….. I promise.

A case studies section with a DVD presentation featuring four different women in business was next; Rosaria Piseri from AlgAran, Pauline Naughton from P&G Cards, Mags Kirwan from Goatsbridge Trout Farm and Davina Lynch Millinery, followed by a question and answer section. Interesting to hear all their start up struggles that have led to their success today.

Q&A with the Case Study Women in Business

Q&A with the Case Study Women in Business

The two day event ended with another inspirational speech from Ramona Nicholas from Cara Pharmacy and Dragons’ Den. Ramona emphasized Celebrating success with great incentives and staying grounded.

Before the mass exodus and the collection of my delightfully full of goodies bag, I finally got the chance to have a lovely meet up with some twitter friends; Mairéad at @Cute_Honey_ and Miriam at @sewingconcepts. Great to put a face to the twitter account.

Meeting up with some Twitter buddies

Meeting up with some Twitter buddies

So after all that, I feel excited, inspired and ready to run the world ….. if only I had more hours in the day. National Women’s Enterprise Day was not only an enjoyable event to make new connections and learn new business tools, but it was also empowering and helped to recharge the batteries. Looking forward to next year’s already 🙂

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