Has this ever happened to you:
You hear about a business event that sounds right up your alley. Even though the timing, location and/or pricing don’t really work for you, you make the effort to go.
You put on your good shaitel or tie or t-shirt or whatever you call “dressed to impress.”
You get there.
Let’s just say it doesn’t quite meet your expectations.
I used to hate it when I went to an event like that! But now I just feel sympathy for the organizers.
That’s because I know how much energy, time, resources and Help from Heaven it takes to run a live business event that really delivers. After all, this is my second year coordinating the Temech Conference for Women in Business. The June 23 conference is less than two weeks away but our team has been working on it for months.
And the first step in doing our job right was to know the answer to this question:
What do Jewish Women Really Want from a Business Conference?
Because if we know what our audience is looking for, we can work to deliver it.
To answer that question, we studied the feedback data from last year. Thank G-d, the response was overwhelming positive, but there were also some meaty suggestions to help us improve.
I also spoke to Chaya Appel-Fishman, director of the Jewish Woman Entrepreneur, who ran a conference targeting a similar audience in the US in May.
Not surprisingly the JWE Conference feedback and the Temech Conference feedback are eerily similar.
They make it pretty clear what Jewish women are looking for in a business conference: content and community.
Perhaps that’s true of any conference, but it has a different meaning at a Jewish women’s business event.
Conference Content: The Fish and the Pond
Since the religious Jewish business community is relatively small and insular, someone can become a prominent figure even if their skills and accomplishments are not exactly world class.
This leads to a concern that a Jewish women’s conference will feature heimish presenters who are “big fish in a small pond” rather than true experts in their fields. At the same time, they clearly prefer to hear from a religious woman, rather than a hotshot who cannot relate to their lifestyle.
As Chaya put it:
“Who are the speakers and are they real experts in their respective fields?”
For the Temech Conference, our challenge was to find an Israel-based religious female keynote who is truly a leading expert with an awe-inspiring track-record of success. A big fish in anyone’s pond. This is not simple task and we were having a hard time of it this year.
Then I met Suzanne Balaban, of BMM Worldwide, at the Jerusalem Writer’s Seminar last month.
Suzanne is a world-renowned PR consultant who has taken numerous books onto the New York Times bestseller list and millions of sales. She also makes a mean cholent!
In other words – my kind of gal.
She did a demo of her presentation and it was mind-blowing. I can’t wait to hear the rest at the conference.
Conference Community: Mass Collaboration is a Reality
Networking is important at any business event, but at the Temech Conference it’s HUGE.
The Temech Conference aims to activate a community that is there in potential but not yet cohesive and active in reality – charedi and religious women in business in Israel.
Let me clarify: Networking is not about selling stuff to each other.
Rather, we want to work together. We want to learn from each other. We want to discover what partnerships and collaboration can do for us all.
As Chaya put is: “The women don’t just want to meet a bunch of other women. They want to meet a group of high quality, motivated entrepreneurs. Women want to learn from other women as well as network and form strategic partnerships.”
Chaya says that follow up indicated that a whopping 72% of her participants said they formed business new partnerships and ventures through people they networked with at the JWE conference. This is not a question we’ve asked in previous years, but I’ll definitely be adding it to our feedback form now.
I did overhear someone saying on Facebook the other day that she’s met more valuable business contacts at the Temech Conference than any other event she’s attended.
You don’t see anything like this level of cooperation coming out of a broader business networking events. The sense of connectedness that religious Jewish women share is what makes these events so special and the networking so effective.
But enough talking for now. It’s time to get back to working to making it happen!
PS. Find out more about the Temech Conference for Women in Business, scheduled for June 23 in Jerusalem. I’ll be the perfectly calm and glamorous wise-cracking MC. Hope to see some of my blog readers there!