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The PWCC Blog provides a platform for our community to interact online so that we may deepen our connection with one another outside of meetings. Promoting PWCC’s mission to create a strong, vibrant network for professional women, the blog also offers individual members a unique opportunity for self-expression. Topics may range from advice on careers, financial matters, and work/life balance to personal observations or even humorous vignettes. Whatever the subject, we hope that all of our members will take advantage of this chance to support, inspire, and enrich the careers and lives of each other. If you’d like to write for the blog, submit your blog to for review. All submissions are reviewed prior to posting. Information is posted regularly by the PWCC blog team, so check back often!


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Tips for Women Business Owners

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 4, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2016

SOUL CONNECTIVITY // Your soul must be connected to your daily work. When we take on activities and roles that don’t fit our greater purpose, anxiety arises and an imbalance erupts in our hearts. When we align ourselves with the vibe of busyness we can get burned out, uncontrollably stressed and off the path of our vision. We all go through a roller coaster of being overwhelmed and not knowing which way is up. The vision to improve the lives of others serves as the forefront to our motivation. It recharges us during moments of challenges and reconnects us.


SHARE YOUR TRUTH // Don’t hide behind the eyes of perfectionism. Share your challenges, your struggles and how you overcame adversity. With each bit of sharing, your heart releases the permission to others so they may also accept their truth. In turn, their hearts will open and their sharing with others will naturally occur. Imagine how powerful the world could be if we all stopped pretending and started authentically being.


FOCUS // Women entrepreneurs tend to want to do it all, RIGHT NOW! And while we can do everything, it may not be best to do it all, RIGHT NOW! Choose 1-2 items to tackle in business and to drive in the sustaining force. Wear invisible borders to provide and facilitate focus on 1-2 items. Key your eye on the main focus and as your business grows and takes off, introduce another item. Priority & focus, focus & priority. That’s a great mantra!


BALANCE // Grip self-love and dedicate energy to remaining balanced in your life and

business. What does this mean? It means commit to taking care of yourself first and then others. Meditate daily, exercise often, and spend time in quietness to find your own clarity. Women tend to feel awful and guilty dedicating “me time”. If you aren’t clear with your internal voice, your guided path to your goals and connectivity to unconditional self-love, your business will suffer. Take a few moments each day and find the balance. Allow the love within you to be nurtured internally.


SUPPORT // Your soul sisters in friendship will often be your constant through decades of development and evolution. Commit to nurturing your closest friendships and relationships as they will come full circle. You need your friends on this journey of life. Girl time is healing, therapeutic and mandatory to your connectivity.


Contributed by Alyssa Burns, Owner of Alyssa Burns Communications


Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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Wistful Dreams? Not for Women in Skilled Trades

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Are you wishing for a job with advancement potential and solid pay that doesn’t take a graduate degree from a university? Then you may want to consider pursuing a career in the skilled trades. With reported shortages of skilled trade workers in fields like construction, electrical installation and maintenance, welding, and HVAC, employers are actively recruiting qualified women and men. Recently, Tulsa Welding School developed an infographic to highlight the career opportunities in the trades for women

Excellent Pay and Job Growth

Welders enjoy an average annual salary of a healthy $40,040 per year, while HVAC technicians average $46,880 per year and electricians average $54,520. If you wish to pursue career advancement with even higher salaries, you can work towards being an electrical foreman or an HVAC operation manager or distribution manager. If you would like to reach even higher, you can earn a bachelor’s degree and work towards being an electrical project manager or project engineer.


Now is a great time to consider a career change. The demand for HVAC installers and electricians is expected to grow by 14 percent through 2024, and the American Welding Society estimates a shortage of 400,000 welders by that same year.

Join the Ranks of Women in the Trades

Women make up only 8.9 percent of the workforce in the construction industry, yet the educational requirements are much faster and usually much less expensive than a four-year degree. Train to join the growing ranks of women in skilled trades, and within a short time, you could be earning solid pay in an industry that has its arms wide open for women.


See the attached infographic to learn more about women in the skilled trades.


Contributed by Kathy Jackson, of the Tulsa Welding School.  Recognizing a strong demand for skilled tradespeople, two welders founded Tulsa Welding School in 1949. Since then, the school has been equipping students with the skills, knowledge, and workplace attitudes necessary to successfully enter the fields of welding, HVAC/R, and electrical applications.


Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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As the Weather Gets Hot, Don’t Let Your Networking Get Cold!

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 1, 2016

As the Weather Gets Hot, Don’t Let Your Networking Get Cold!

For some of us, summer is the time when things slow down – our working hours may change, our work dress code may become a little more relaxed, big projects may be completed and put away.

For some of us, summer is a time of new juggling acts: children have to be transported to summer camps, our work routines may need to be changed around to accommodate others’ vacations, we may have to work harder to get people to respond to our messages.

But whether or not things truly do slow down for us, it’s important that we don’t let the networking skills we’re working so hard to perfect get rusty.  We can learn to use the different pace that summer presents us with to hone our skills so that we’re ready for fall’s business schedule.

 Here are a few things to remember and practice over the summer:

  1. Always, always, always carry some of your business cards, even if they have to be tucked away in your beach bag.  You never know when you might cross paths with someone with whom you want to build a relationship.

  2. Think of the summer as the time to practice “accidental” networking.  The neighborhood pool party, church picnic, 5k race all give you the chance to meet and speak with new people or with familiar people in a new way. Just be sensitive to the vibe of the gathering – you may not be able to start a conversation about work interests as overtly as you do during a more business-centric event.

  3. As an extension of #2, practice the art of listening at these informal gatherings. Because the summer gives us the chance to mingle in more informal settings, brush up on your conversational skills that focus on the people you are with so that you’re asking about them and finding ways to connect with their interests.

  4. Look for a new group to join – the summer is often the time groups are planning for the upcoming fall-spring seasons and looking for new ideas.  You may have the opportunity to get in on the “ground floor” of such planning.

  5. Think about organizing a social outing that includes some people you’d like to get to know better.  There are plays, concerts, cooking classes, and outdoor restaurants that offer opportunities to get together and enjoy the great weather.

Summer is the time we all point to as proof that life in and around Chicago is wonderful!  Use this glorious time to improve your networking skills and you’ll be ready for fall in no time!

Contributed by Dr. Carol Jambor-Smith.

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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Busy Woman’s Tips - Change Can be the Spark to Practicing Openness

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 20, 2016
Raise your hand if you live by a routine.  


All of us rely on routines to accomplish that which we need and want to each day.  We get up at a certain time, we work out at the same time (sometimes running on the same treadmill!) and get in the car at the same time to beat the traffic to work.


But what happens when our routines are challenged?  When a client unexpectedly cancels a project? When a job is eliminated? When a key employee leaves? Changes to our routine can be the source of great anxiety.


But change can also be the source of insight and creative energy. It is often referred to as the gateway to new and unexpected opportunities and/or outcomes. 

Leo Babauta writes of learning to “go with the flow” as important, he says, because “No matter how much structure we create in our lives, no matter how many good habits we build, there will always be things that we cannot control — and if we let them, these things can be a huge source of anger, frustration and stress.” (“12 Practical Steps for Learning to Go With the Flow.” Leo Babauta.


But if we live (and sometimes feel like we die) by our routines, how can we “go with the flow” and be open to (disruptive) change that might reveal a new path for us?  Simply put, we can practice openness.


Practicing openness need not be hard.  Here are five simple ways:


  1. Add 15 minutes to your morning routine and use the time to focus on you.  Meditate, pray, write in a journal.  Sitting quietly and in the moment is the key.
  2. Learn something new, such as a language, a craft, or a sport.
  3. Break a habit by learning how to do something in a new way.
  4. Sit somewhere new during a routine meeting or gathering.
  5. Laugh out loud with someone at least once a day.


PWCC has professional life coaches among its membership who can help you practice becoming open.  Use the membership directory to find them!


Contributed by Dr. Carol Jambor-Smith.

Professional Women's Club of Chicago, PWCC is a Chicago based networking organization that provides networking connections that support, enrich and inspire women to advance professionally and personally. Members come from public and private sectors, multi-billion dollar corporations, mid-size and small businesses, as well as, non-profit organizations. Membership is open to women from all industries in all stages of their careers who want to develop a strong lifelong network. Learn more about membership and upcoming activities

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How to Stay Focused & Keep Connected with Your Network

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 11, 2016

You can’t be in a million places at once. As many people know in business development, 80% of new business comes from your top clients and referrals – so you should focus on connecting with those people on a regular basis.  It is much easier to keep current clients happy and develop your relationships as far as possible than it is to constantly find new clients.  Attached are two documents that can help you stay focused throughout the year.  


First, review your previous year’s financial results and then populate the attached “Your Network” worksheet with the top five in each of the following categories:

1.      Clients You Work With

2.      Targets and Prospects

3.      Referral Sources

4.      Family Friends

5.      Members of Organizations you Belong to

6.      People You Would Like to Meet

7.      College Classmates (if you stay in touch) or Colleagues


Next, think about the types of activities that you like to do for marketing or are good at, and focus on using these channels to stay in touch with your network.  Some people are better at these marketing categories than others, so focus on the ones you enjoy:

-        Writing Articles

-        Social Media – LinkedIn

-        One-on-One Interaction – coffee, lunch, dinner

-        Public Relations – Media Interviews

-        Events for Clients and Prospects

-        Public Speaking

-        Attending Educational Seminars


Finally, take the information from your worksheet and transfer it to the “Sample Network Tracker” spreadsheet.  This will allow you to track on a monthly basis how often you are staying in contact with the right people in your network.  As you move further along into the year, you can glance at the chart to see where you might be falling short and make a concentrated attempt to be more consistent with your marketing efforts.  You can also use the tracker spreadsheet to measure how often you have reached out to your top prospects and when you should be asking for the business.  Remember, it usually takes from 6-8 touchpoints before a prospect feels comfortable with you and that should be your signal to ask for their business.


Written by Sheryl Dinnen, Marketing & Business Development Specialist, Ice Miller, LLP


 Attached Files:

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Making Personal Connections – The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 11, 2016

Picture receiving a stack of envelopes in your mailbox and finding a neatly-addressed, smaller envelope, with a “real” stamp affixed in the corner.  Which do you open first?  Our inboxes and mailboxes are often filled with requests, reminders, and responses, along with invoices and junk mail.  A thoughtful way to set yourself apart from others is through the use handwritten notes.  Consider these tips to make your handwritten notes memorable and to help deepen your connections.


  • Select stationery that is a reflection of you.  Maybe it’s subtly branded with your business.  Maybe it highlights your initials or a hobby.  Maybe it’s just your favorite color.  Whatever you choose, don’t skimp on quality.

  • Make sure your recipient can read your note.  Pick a good pen that won’t smudge.  Use better-than-average handwriting.  (Yes, we are all in a hurry.  Just don’t let your handwriting reflect that.)  Remember to spell your words correctly.

  • Set aside 30 minutes each week for your written correspondence.  Have all of your tools (names, addresses, stationery, pen, stamps, and a dictionary) handy.  Clear your desk.  Turn off your phone.

  • Include something personal in your message.  What did you discover about your recipient during your last meeting?  What do you share in common?  Mention it.

  • While handwritten thank-you notes are always appreciated, an article by John Coleman in the Harvard Business Review suggests that notes can also “follow up on a conversation, remind someone that they’re not forgotten, raise new issues, or even include a gift”.

  • Of course, remember that if timeliness is an issue, such as following a job interview or responding to an urgent request, consider other forms of communication first.  But, you can always send a handwritten note afterwards.


    Contributed by Annika Mitchell, Attorney at the Mitchell Law Firm.

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Member Spotlight: Junilla Sledziewski, A Power Connector

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 11, 2016

Member Spotlight:  Junilla Sledziewski, A Power Connector


Are you looking to become a power connector?  Why not learn from the best.  Junilla makes things happen by building valuable relationships based on the principle of “pay it forward.”


In 2013 Junilla moved to Chicago due to her husband’s job, and took an attorney position with Statman, Harris &Eyrich, where she was tasked with building the Ohio-based firm’s presence in Chicago.  Finding herself in a new place with few connections, she joined the PWCC and was so overwhelmed with the valuable connections that others made for her, she committed herself to making one connection each week for others, an objective she soon met.


The outcomes for others and Junillawere so positive that she increased her goal in 2016 to making two new connections per week, and she is on the path to meet that objective.  Her belief is that “one connection can change your life in mysterious ways, don’t miss any opportunity to connect and make a difference for those you connect with.” 


It is not surprising that Junilla is a power connector.  She is smart, mindful, easy going, and disciplined.  She consistently chooses the positive path, looks for the possible, and surrounds herself with positive people.


Junilla grew up in a rural area near Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She attended the University of Nevada-Las Vegas where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and graduated at the top of her class.  She then attended the University of Miami School of Law where she was a member of the Miami Law Review earned a Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude.


Following law school, she practiced at a prestigious South Florida law firm -- Fowler, White Burnett -- and as a solo practitioner prior to moving to Chicago.  She is licensed to practice law in Illinois, Florida, and New Mexico.  Her practice areas include commercial lending, banking litigation, real estate, and general business law and litigation.   She feels that her current firm is the perfect environment for her entrepreneurial spirit with the benefits of a supportive, talented team.  It provides the perfect balance of autonomy and teamwork.


In addition to practicing law, Junilla has many other interests and pursuits.  Among her passions is Pilates, something she practices regularly for mind-body optimization.  Recently she took on the goal of obtaining a Pilates teacher certification, which requires more than 450 hours of education.  Her goal is to make Pilates accessible to more people outside of pricey private studio sessions. 


On the family front, Junilla is building a joint venture with her husband to make and distribute a family recipe fruit-infused vodka.  The fun and creative outlet is otherwise known as Locust Creek Infusery.  As if these diverse endeavors were not enough, she is also in the process of refurbishing a 100-year-old home, which can be a fulltime job in and of itself.


Junilla approaches life with wonder, possibility, and positive energy.  Meet her and see for yourself!


Contributed by Elaine Mikesell, Ph.D., Digital Consulting Principal, WSI

 Attached Thumbnails:

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Busy Woman’s Tips: Taking Your Network Global

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 3, 2016

Every day we are becoming more of a global community.  This may bring challenges, such as language barriers, time zone differences, or travel headaches, but it can also bring opportunities.  Whether you want to develop contacts for your business or on a personal level, here are three tips for your journey in international networking. 


1.  Join an International Online Business Community.  Once you find a group that would be receptive to building relationships with your business model and type, provide a service or information through a webinar and newsletter.  It is important to give something to open the door to more communication.  This will also allow you to link to other websites and be advertised on their pages.


2.  Study, Practice - Study, Practice!  It is critical to study the culture and customs of the places where you'd like to expand your business.  Learn what their specific needs are and how your business scope may provide a solution within their culture.  Have your materials reviewed by a native speaker who can provide additional insight as well as translation services, if necessary.  


3. Join an International Business Organization within Your Local Community.  Either research the members or join a committee to expand your opportunities for relationships with targeted persons.  Ask for referrals within all networks. Attend international events and support international causes.  


This may take some time but don't give up.  “Ambition is like hunger: it obeys no law but its appetite.”  Josh Billings.


Contributed by Beneatha Barkley

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Member Spotlight: Tina Kotrych

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 3, 2016

Meet Tina Kotrych, a caring and adventurous soul with a calling to public service.  A native of Southeastern Michigan, Tina is currently a Trade Commissioner with the Consulate General of Canada, a role that is the culmination of her life choices starting from a very early age. 


The Public Servant Within

One of Tina’s first public service endeavors was at the age of 17 when she taught children English at summer camp in the Ukraine.  It was there that she developed an appreciation not only for the profound impact that she could have on lives, but also for different cultures and worldviews.  In short, she discovered that “the world is bigger than your own backyard.”


Upon returning home, she earned her B.S. in Non-Profit Management from Eastern Michigan University.  In 2005, she relocated from suburban Detroit to Chicago to serve in AmeriCorps, where she taught middle school students and planned service projects on Chicago’s Westside.  She later worked in business development at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and served as the first Developmental Director of the Chicago Women's Health Center. 


In these roles she learned how big organizations work and nurtured her innate ability to organize, facilitate, and enable leaders to achieve their objectives.  This valuable experience, positioned her to land her current role as the Trade Commissioner of the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago.


Her primary focus is to promote new (as well as support existing) investments in Canada from financial service firms based in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Tina also works to identify strategic alliances, collaborations, joint ventures, and other economic opportunities for Canadian enterprises.


Tina is proud of the impact trade with Canada makes in every congressional district in the United States.  This graphic highlights some of the key benefits of the US-Canada trade relationship.




to learn more about the mutual benefits of the Canada-US trade. 


If your firm or client is looking at Canadian expansion consider Tina your first resource for ensuring the process is seamless and timely.  Tina's contact information is available on our member directory.


Strategist and Enabler

Tina values her role as a strategist and enabler for leadership, expansion, and growth.  She has a passion for helping small and medium sized companies in the Midwest to extend their operations to Canada. 


For example, she recently received a referral through the PWCC to a middle-market,  Illinois-based energy services company that had been requested by a client to expand their operations into Canada.   Tina helped them research locations and resources in Canada, supported a site location visit, and conducted detailed analysis on what it would take to make it happen.


This work in process is confidential, but the hopeful conclusion will bring jobs to Canada and revenue growth for the company in both countries.


Adventure, Art, and Compassion

While Tina loves her work she also maintains a healthy work/life balance.  Her interest in nature took her on a six-week backpacking trip in the Himalayas in 2013!   She is pictured below working very hard but still having fun in the Uttarakahand province of India.




In her spare time Tina enjoys making functional ceramics and partaking in the myriad cultural and culinary events that Chicago offers.  She also volunteers at organizations such as The Awakenings Foundation Center and Gallery, a private foundation that fosters the creative expression of rape and sexual abuse survivors.  Another favorite of hers is Art Reach, a non-profit organization that brings transformative arts education to audiences with limited access to the arts.


Her interest in international and public affairs reach beyond her current role. In the near future she will be participating in the International Women’s Day on March 8th at the Union League.  Those interested can join this large celebration in Chicago, which includes a luncheon and keynote address by Sheila Watt-Cloutier, internationally recognized Inuit human rights and environmental advocate, who quite fittingly, also happens to be Canadian.


Contributed by Elaine Mikesell, Ph.D., Digital Consulting Principal, WSI

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Busy Women Tips: How to be Green at Home and Work

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 3, 2016

In keeping with this month’s theme of sustainability, here are some quick tips on how you can easily be more green on a daily basis – both at home and work. 


Save Energy

  • Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter – wear a thin camisole and tights under your winter clothing and you’ll barely notice the difference.

  • Switch to fluorescent light bulbs and remember to turn off lights when you leave a room.

  • Unplug appliances that are not in use all the time.

Reduce Water Consumption

  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible.  Did you know 85% of the energy used to machine wash clothes goes to heating the water?

  • Air dry your black clothes to keep them black longer and save energy.

  • Use dryer balls rather than toxic fabric softeners.

  • Take shorter, luke-warm showers to save your skin.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

  • Walk, bike, bus, or carpool to work to save on gas and improve your health.

  • Telecommute one day a week if your office allows it.


Skip Bottled Water

  • Use a water filter to purify tap water.

  • Use a reusable water bottle.

Borrow Instead of Buying

  • Borrow from libraries or online services instead of purchasing books and movies.

  • Rent rarely-used home improvement tools or borrow them from your friends.


Buy Smart

  • Buy in bulk for most-used household products like toilet paper, tissue, paper towels, and napkins.  Also, purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.

  • Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you'll be happy when you don't have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).


Keep Electronics Out of the Trash

  • Keep your cell phones, computers, and other electronics as long as possible.

  • Donate or recycle them responsibly when the time comes. E-waste contains mercury and other toxics and is a growing environmental problem.

  • Recycle your cell phone.


Written by Sheryl Dineen, Marketing and Business Development Specialist, Ice Miller (

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