Tip #148: Teaching for the Small Business Development Center
It all began when I began to think about starting my own business. The University of Wisconsin had a Small Business Development Center that offered free counseling to individuals in my situation, so I scheduled an appointment. I was very concerned about the number of training consultants in the Madison area, feeling that the competition might be too stiff. When I met with the Director, William Pinkovitz, he assured me that there was nothing to worry about. As long as the other consultants were doing a good job., businesses would hire me for the unique capabilities that I had. The problem would arise if the other consultants were NOT doing a good job, because then the entire training industry would have a bad reputation and it would make it difficult for any of us to do business.
As we discussed my areas of expertise, he asked me if I would be willing to teach for the Small Business Development Center itself. Saying –yes” was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! For years, we offered the only evening workshops in the area on personnel management and human resources topics. The Center publicized the programs throughout the region and I suddenly had their marketing expertise to promote me!!! The programs offered me immediate access to local businesses. I began to have name and face recognition as a trainer, which was an amazing gift for a new business.
In addition, when Joan Gillman joined the Center shortly after I met with Bill, she had all sorts of creative ideas for additional services to business. This included the Women’s Breakfast Series on different topics, which was and continues to be wildly successful. It was a wonderful showcase that afforded access to hundreds of women at every level in business.
Not only did Joan become a good friend, she was also a marketer extraordinaire on my behalf (as well as the behalf of many other trainers). Joan promoted me as a speaker and workshop leader for every small business conference in the state. When inquiries came for onsite training from local businesses, she referred them to me. Joan nominated me for the Small Business Trainer of the Year, which gave me a monetary prize that enabled me to attend a professional conference. She was and still is my best promoter and business advisor.
If you’ve been reading these Tips for the past few months, you’ll recognize her name. Joan not only opened doors for me locally and throughout the state of Wisconsin, she brought me to teach in Croatia. She is still the very first person to whom I refer any consultant wanting to get into training.
Over the years since, there have been many other wonderful people who have opened doors for me, pushed me in directions I never anticipated, and gave me opportunities I will always value and can never adequately repay. We absolutely do get by with more than a little help from our friends!