Our final SourceLink Affiliate Quarterly Conversation of the year was packed with great information and fun. First, we congratulated affiliates selected to participate in the SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program including National Urban League, Nicolet Area Technical College, New Bedford Economic Council, Rochester Economic Development Corporation and Forward Cities. Then we welcomed newly launched affiliates to the growing SourceLink network: BizLink Orange, SourceLink Nebraska and West Virginia BusinessLink.
Reflecting on 2021
At the final Quarterly Conversation of the year, it has been our practice to reflect on the past year. These questions were addressed in small group discussions:
- What have you learned about your network and community this last year?
- What is the new normal for your team and network?
- What are you looking forward to most in 2022?
Affiliates learned that, for the most part, networks and communities were able to make changes and be flexible when it came to serving their clients. They were heartened by exemplary teamwork as well as the tenacity of people in their communities who were willing to step up and help others. Some affiliates observed more personnel changes in their resource network and realized the need for more engagement in 2022.
While hybrid and fully online work is the new normal for most teams, some are slowly moving back to in-person meetings, events and scheduled days in the office. Through 2021, affiliates have been navigating this new normal, adapting to continuously changing circumstances and looking for creative ways to keep their resource partners and entrepreneurs engaged.
Catherine Marshall with MicroEnterprise Collaborative of Inland Southern California said they are ready to develop their network further by emphasizing professional development, leadership development and technical assistance so that Resource Partners can maximize their services.
Shelby Newsome with Sandhills Entrepreneurship Engagement Network said entrepreneurs in her network are experiencing some burnout. She feels that it’s more important now than ever to provide targeted support so people don’t give up on starting and growing businesses.
In many ways, 2021 has been a year of recovery, reflection and change. However, there is optimism among affiliates about what is possible in 2022. Most agree that looking forward means more energetic resource partner engagement and network building awareness.
SourceLink Enters the Shark Tank!
The final activity of the meeting was a Shark Tank Challenge where small groups created a service or product that would benefit a community in 2022. Each group was tasked with developing an objective, brand name and basic plans for marketing and funding. Scores were based on presentation, marketability, and originality.
Creative ideas were everywhere! One group proposed an annual entrepreneur celebration with dinner and drinks from local restaurants open to all entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs! Another group proposed developing a marketing toolkit for engaging entrepreneurs and shared their plans with a PowerPoint presentation! (hint, hint SourceLink) A third group presented “Entrepreneurs on the Move” pitch event competition for each county in their region with the winners traveling to the final pitch event on a tour bus. Program awareness inspired a video series for the fourth group entitled, “Reach for Your Dreams,” featuring celebrities who speak on topics such as how to become an entrepreneur. Finally, Shark Tank “investors” selected “Fix My Biz: Secrets to Success” a mentorship weekly podcast as the winner!
Congratulations to all the participants and a big thank you to the facilitators and “investors” from SourceLink. Maybe some of these impressive ideas will be realized in 2022.
Happy New Year!
SourceLink Affiliate Conversations
SourceLink Affiliate Quarterly Conversations is an exclusive benefit for affiliate members. Agendas includes topics, speakers and discussions suggested by our community of network builders and is an opportunity to share best practices and collaborate with one another. For more information about becoming a SourceLink affiliate and joining our conversations contact Dara Macan at firstname.lastname@example.org.