It’s Wednesday, early afternoon. Thirteen ladies have gathered at Mam’s Coffee & More for the first Powerwoman Network Lunch in Arnhem. Yvonne Renckens and Jacqueline van Dijk organized this small event to connect (local) businesses, but not through the usual way of a large group of people standing around with a drink, trying to make a conversation and swapping business cards.
The women who were present started all kinds of different businesses. From fashion photography, social media assistance and diet coaching - to name a few.
After we all introduced ourselves, we got an assignment: what you do need to take the next step with your business. After the answers we were asked how we could help each other. For example, a photographer was in need of a graphic designer that could help her when it comes to adding text to a photo. A collaboration with someone else at the table did not seem unlikely and an appointment was made. That is just what these network lunches are about! ArnhemLife’s Petra was also present at the Powerwoman Network Lunch and talked to Yvonne about her business and why she started these lunches.
Interview With Yvonne Renckens
ArnhemLife: Wednesday May 17th we were present at the first Powerwomen Network Lunch in Arnhem, it was such a nice afternoon! The relaxed atmosphere made it easier to connect with other business owners. How did you come up with the idea to start these powerwomen lunches?
Yvonne: Personally, I hate networking events, especially the many man in suits standing in groups. I did not like these kind of networking events since the conversations usually are very superficial. But despite the fact that I never went to this type of network events, I've built up a huge network over the past few years, through many one-on-one conversations and events that make it easier to make contact through assignments. And since I’ve started my Virtual sidekick company in September last year, my network provided me with 90% of my clients, without making any acquisition. My network really worked for me. I want to provide other female entrepreneurs the power of a strong network as well.
ArnhemLife: So that is why you organise these events, to make it easier for people to connect?
Yvonne: Yes, in order to lift companies with Powerwomen to the next level, we organize easy access networking events. Many entrepreneurial women are not in favor of the traditional networking events where one wants to share as much business cards as possible and while they talk to you, they are already looking for a interesting contact over your shoulder. The sincere connection created by intimate conversations and activities is much more important than giving away a minimum amount of business cards. By sharing experiences, knowledge and tools, you leave each event with a handbag full of valuable information from new contacts you've made.
It does not matter if you are a starter or have run your own business for years. We believe that you can learn from each phase and help others with the knowledge you have. Uncertainties you encounter, where others have taken steps that can help you in your own process. Certain knowledge of entrepreneurship that you miss and by chance meeting someone who does have this knowledge, we do not see that as a coincidence. There are people coming into your life at times when you can learn something or create valuable cooperations. But also inspiration from a completely different disciplines, allowing you to look at your own company with a different look. Accessible new contacts and valuable knowledge are our starting point!
ArnhemLife: Will there be more network lunches in Arnhem, even for English-speaking people?
Yvonne: Yes there will be monthly events in The Netherlands, including in Arnhem. We can investigate whether an English version may be interesting in the future. (Leave a comment on Facebook when you are interested in an English Powerwomen Network Lunch in Arnhem!)
ArnhemLife:You call yourself a ‘Virtual Sidekick’. What does this mean?
Yvonne: I'm Virtual Sidekick, which means I support entrepreneurs in matters like agenda planning, social media management, organizing events, financial administration, and I help entrepreneurs to set up crowdfunding campaigns. In addition, the ‘powervrouwen network’ is part of my company Virtual sidekick Yvonne, in which I organize networking events in the form of lunch, dinner or activities.
ArnhemLife:Can you describe a typical workday?
Yvonne:I usually start the day at 9:00am, check my email prioritize the day. Sometimes I work from a restaurant with Wi-Fi, and other times I also work from my home / garden. Regularly I have one or two skype calls in one day and further I process many mails and calls for myself and my customers. I don't have 9 to 5 mentality, so evenings or weekends can be used for work as well, which means that during a weekday I can enjoy a walk the forest. :)
ArnhemLife: What other projects keep you busy?
Yvonne:I work as a volunteer at the Arnhem platform for chronically ill and disabled people.
ArnhemLife: Which Armhem company do you think is great but might be one not too many people know about?
The salad bar ‘Slaatje Bla’ (Klarendalseweg 34). This is an initiative by Estée Strooker (the first and youngest winner of the Masterchef Netherlands cooking show). She is also the owner of the restaurant 't Amusement’.
Would you like to get in touch with Yvonne? You can contact her here: contact Yvonne.