Networking is great …. when it works and do I have a great networking story for you.


WEConnect International? PARO? WBENC? I had never heard of them or seen the names anywhere prior to October 2023. And I had no idea what it meant to be certified by them or why I should look into becoming a member.

Fortunately for me and BlueRoots, I was having a chat with Brooke Gordon, from the BDC Academy and she casually asked me if I was certified with WEConnect. I said “no, I have not even heard of it”, she said you should look into it. As soon as we finished our chat she emailed me a link to WEConnect International.

I took a look and went down the proverbial rabbit hole.

What exactly is WEConnect International, you ask? WEConnect International is a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world. What a great organization and plethora of amazing talented successful women. After reading all about them,  I was still not sure how this could be of benefit to me, I work with 1st and 2nd generation family businesses, helping the family and business prepare for their first transition/succession/sale and then move into estate planning with the family. However, I trusted Brooke’s judgment and made a call to Stephanie Fontaine, the Regional Director for Canada and the US. Boy am I ever glad I did.  Not only is she a fantastic human, I also learned how this great organization empowers and connects women business owners around the globe. BlueRoots jumped in with both feet, joined and became certified within a month.

Before joining this organization, finding and connecting with other women-owned businesses was difficult. I only knew a handful, so sharing and networking was not easy due to the limited number of women-owned businesses in my area. This group opened me up to thousands of women just like me, they understood the issues of not only owning a business but being a women business owner. Being a women business owner while raising children requires a PhD in juggling.

Our timing on joining was perfect, WEConnect International was hosting a March 2024 Networking Conference in Denver CO, and it was a few days before the WBENC Conference in the same city. I was encouraged to stay for both the WEConnect and the WBENC conference by Stephanie. OK…what is WBENC?  Well, it is a non-profit, organization in the US that partners with 14 other Regional Partner Organizations, to provide a world-class standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the US. It offers programming and resources to help women-owned businesses thrive. Amazing!

So three of us at BlueRoots head off to the WEconnect International conference. The first people we meet are a group of 30-plus women from Ontario, Canada and they are part of PARO….are you following me? Who is PARO we ask. PARO is a non-profit organization that helps women start, grow, and scale their businesses in Ontario. How could I have been in business for 38 years and not heard of these organizations? Totally amazing!


Anyway, having jumped in with both feet we arranged to lug our booth and marketing material (note to self and others…ship it, don’t lug it through airports!!) and set up shop at the WEBNC EXPO where 3000 plus women we going to be attending.

We wanted to experience the entire week of networking.

No point in standing on the sidelines, lets make the most of this, or as my team likes to say – why don’t we just jump off the cliff without a parachute and see where we land. Although they would prefer a parachute, or not jump at all, they trusted my judgment and jumped on board with me and held on tight.


You know where I am going right? This was an amazing experience. This was a true networking opportunity, like I have never experienced. Women helping women and engaging other women. There were no main platform speakers at this conference getting you pumped up. The conference was a series of breakout networking groups for part of the day while the EXPO was closed, and then in the afternoon when the EXPO opened, there was no breakout rooms. Everyone got to participate in the breakouts and EXPO. Our booth was hopping….who would have thought, when you could hang out a much cooler businesses. No one avoided eye contact when they went by your booth, they stopped and asked what you do! The breakout rooms were opportunities to pitch your company to major companies, to companies in your geographical area, or how to get help with financing or marketing…all real advice and guidance…amazing!


This entire experience has redefined my idea of networking. Networking is not a social group, networking groups should people who have come together to find ways to work together, to help propel, encourage and introduce you to other people who can also help you. Distance should not be a barrier (unless you are limited in your industry and compliance). For me family businesses are all over the world. The issues they face as 1st or 2nd generation businesses are not unique to a specific country. Families are families!

All I am saying is networking can play a big part of the success of your company if you find and connect with like-minded professionals. Keep looking and have an open mind.

Thank you Brooke for getting the ball rolling and it just keeps rolling and gathering steam.

I hope everyone can find a great networking group to get their own ball rolling!.