Businesswomen to flock to inaugural SWAN Con

Angela Schalow. Courtesy Strong Women Arise Network

According to legend, a swan sings one beautiful song in its life just before it crosses the metaphorical rainbow bridge. But the Strong Women Arise Network (SWAN) is hardly on its way out.

Women professionals will gather for SWAN Con at 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at the Watermark Country Club, 1600 Galbraith Ave. SE in Grand Rapids.

The event is open to all area businesswomen and features several local speakers who will share messages of encouragement and advice.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales go to Women At Risk International, a nonprofit that supports survivors of abuse and human trafficking.

In addition to the five speakers, there will be shopping opportunities through multiple sponsors and vendors, food, a raffle, a SWAN swag bag and, of course, the opportunity to network.

SWAN is an online networking group for Grand Rapids businesswomen that began in 2019. The group had just wrapped up its first in-person meetup in March 2020 when COVID-19 lockdowns were announced. The edict sent everyone back into cyberspace to continue to connect virtually.

That didn’t turn out to be such a bad thing.

SWAN founder Angela Schalow, an insurance agent, said she started the group because she was frustrated with traditional networking events. She wasn’t acquiring good leads for business at the events, nor was she finding the camaraderie she craved.

The online space provided that.

“I imagined a community of women that built genuine relationships, encouraged each other and generously shared their knowledge,” Schalow said. “I love hearing success stories from fellow SWANs about the connections they have made and the impact it has on their businesses and their lives.”

The purpose of SWAN was to get to know other women in business. For a busy working mother, a Facebook group was the perfect solution. Over the past three years, the online community flourished and now has 600 members — women who cheer for one another and serve as confidants.

Early bird tickets are on sale for $74.99. Early registrants receive a free shirt.

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