The History of the Business Women’s Mega Mixer
In the summer of 2009, Felena Hanson and Michelle Bergquist met for lunch and discussed the possibility of hosting a joint meeting and event between their respective groups, Women’s Global Network (WGN) and Connected Women of Influence (CWI).
After going back and forth on possible dates for a joint meeting, a new idea came about. According to Bergquist, “when we realized that March was Women’s History Month, we decided that a celebration event recognizing a number of business women’s groups, clubs and organizations might be more fun than just bringing together only two organizations.”
After a few conference calls, Felena and Michelle began planning and thinking about what to call a big event to celebrate Women’s History Month. According to Hanson, “we knew that other organizations and nonprofit groups celebrated Women’s History Month individually, but we couldn’t think of any organization that coordinated an event that brought together a majority of business women’s groups and showcased them via tabletop displays for a fun evening of mixing and mingling and making connections.”
“We spent an evening brainstorming what we should call our event,” states Bergquist. “I recall we came up with a huge list of possible names, but nothing really stood out for us. When we played around with the word ‘mixer’ and talked over what our event concept should be in bringing together a number of women’s groups, I remember one of us saying that we wanted this to be the biggest, boldest and most outrageous event of mixing and mingling of business women ever! We played with words that described a big, outrageous event and, as I recall, one of us said ‘mega’ to describe the event and that’s how The Business Women’s Mega Mixer was born!”
Hanson remembers, “one of the things Michelle and I talked about initially in planning the mega mixer was that we wanted to do something that would be a ‘Pay it Forward’ event to raise funds for a worthy non-profit organization.” We had a huge list of choices that we considered in selecting a beneficiary for the event and decided on the Women’s History Museum and Educational Center for our first mega mixer.
Coming up with a concept and launching a mega mixer on the scale Hanson and Bergquist envisioned became a huge undertaking. First, there was the challenge of finding a location to host the event. “We knew a hotel would be a tough place to host our first event, states Bergquist. “We had a great idea, but no track record of success with our event.” Hanson was a faculty member with the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM). According to Hanson, “when I approached FIDM they were more than happy to help us in celebrating Women’s History Month and hosting our 1st Annual Event. We were very excited that they embraced our concept and literally opened their doors to us for an entire evening.”
The next goal was to find an easy and cost-effective way for organizations to be part of the mega mixer. According to Bergquist, “Both Felena and I have been involved with a number of women’s groups and organizations, and we knew how tough it would be to find one evening where there’s no conflict with other groups and their events.” Hanson recalls, “We spent hours and hours of research time reviewing group event dates and pulling together a list of women’s professional organizations and clubs that we thought might be interested in joining us.”
Once the organizations were on board, the real challenge began. Now the job was to get attendees to the event. “We didn’t have an advertising budget,” comments Hanson. “In fact, we didn’t have any budget at all for promotion of the mega mixer.” According to Bergquist, “I remember calling a couple of public relations folks that I knew to see if they’d work with us, but the economic times were so tough during the Fall of 2009, I literally got no response or offer of assistance because we had no track record and just a nice idea.”
The “nice idea” turned into phenomenal success!
Now, in its 8th year, headed up by Shonna Jordan, the Business Women’s Mega Mixer carries on as we all once again gather together to celebrate Women’s History Month and recognize all women in business!