“Connecting for Women” event series encourages networking among women


Owen Barbato

Danielle Vidergar spoke on “Owning Your Confidence” on Oct. 11.

Molly Wilcoxson, Staff Writer

The Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual series, “Connecting for Women,” centering around networking opportunities for women interested in professional leadership, featured two networking events and keynote speaker Danielle Vidergar in its 2022 programming.

“Connecting for Women” began in 2018, when branches of the chamber of commerce, across the greater Des Moines area, collaborated to create the series. This year, though no other chamber of commerce branches in Iowa were able to participate, the Grinnell branch decided to continue with the series and hold an event over the course of September and October.

Chamber of commerce Member Engagement Coordinator Kendra Vincent oversaw the planning.

The first networking event was held on Sept. 27 at the Periodic Table and invited all women living in Grinnell to drop in, socialize and connect with their peers.

“Everyone in our office [chamber of commerce] is not originally from Grinnell, so we’ve seen those struggles that come with making new relationships, professionally or personally,” said Vincent. “We wanted to offer something that bridges that gap.”

On Oct. 11, “Connecting for Women” hosted Vidergar as their keynote speaker. She has 20 years of experience working in human resources, and she currently serves as the director of training at ECW Training Solutions. In her speech, she taught the DiSC model, a method used to help individuals understand their leadership styles to better communicate with others.

The “Connecting for Women” event series included two socials, one at the Periodic Table and one at Solera. (Owen Barbato)

“We’re better off being able to understand where our strengths and weaknesses are, so that we can work together better,” said Vidergar. “If you and I were interacting, the more I can understand about you, the greater likelihood we have of being successful, whatever we’re working on.”

Vidergar also spoke on becoming confident in one’s own leadership styles, particularly as women in male-dominated fields. She said it was important to understand your own strengths, so you know what best “aligns with your energy and skill set.” After grasping these concepts, says Vidergar, it is much easier for women to feel confident in leadership roles as well as communicating with their colleagues.

Vincent said that “Connecting for Women” and similar events act as opportunities for women in leadership positions to combat the stereotypes that they may face. In her speech, Vidergar reinforces this sentiment, as she discussed how women in leadership roles may be perceived as “bossy” or overly-controlling, when conducting the same tasks as their male counterparts.

“There’s this idea that women have played a more nurturing role over time, but that doesn’t mean they have to be,” said Vidergar. “They can show up and be a very effective leader in a different way. And it’s not always about who’s the loudest or who talks the most, either.”

Vincent added, “We wanted to recognize that networking looks different for those who identify as women simply because we don’t have a lot of the same opportunities as others.”

Following Vidergar’s keynote speech, “Connecting for Women” held their final networking event on Oct. 27 at Solera in downtown Grinnell. Although this concluded 2022’s “Connecting for Women” series, Vincent said that she hopes that the chamber of commerce can hold more events in the future.

“We hope to do this in a similar format in the spring where we’ll have open networking sessions and keynote speakers, but also events open to Grinnell students, too,” said Vincent. She said that she hopes, moving forward, the College’s student body will play a more active role in collaborating with the chamber of commerce for events like these.

“We recognize that students are an important part of our community, and we want to make sure our programming is accessible for them,” Vincent said. By achieving this, she says that she hopes to “expand the access” of “Connecting for Women” to include all female-identifying residents of Grinnell who are looking to build community and connections within their town.