Terri Lynn Yanke

Why You Should Network As Much As You Can With Terri Lynn Yanke

Last Updated on September 24, 2020

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Tell Us About Yourself And Your Background!

I am currently the Event Producer + Consultant (in-person and online) for Eventful Advantage LLC, a company I founded in 2018 that is now based in Madison, WI. My background is as a retail and wholesale executive in the apparel industry. The first part of my career I was working on the retail side for Gimbels Midwest, Dayton Hudson Marshall Fields, Merry Go Round and Macy’s. I started as an Executive Trainee after graduating with a double major in Marketing and Management from the Wisconsin School of Business to Group Sales Manager, Assistant Buyer, Planner Distributor, Associate Buyer, Senior Buyer, Merchandising Manager, Product Director to VP/Divisional Merchandise Manager. During this time I also earned a MBA in Marketing. Then I went over to the wholesale side developing product lines for stores as VP of Merchandising & Design at PLUGG, Director of Merchandising & Design at Perry Ellis and Haggar Clothing. I have moved several times in my life for my jobs and have lived in Madison, WI; Milwaukee; Minneapolis, Baltimore, New York City and Dallas. I have had the opportunity to travel extensively both domestically and internationally. I draw inspiration from other cultures to this day in my work.

It has always been my passion to help other women in business. Men were always paid more for the exact same positions that I have held since I started in business.
When I did start my own company, I became involved as a member of eWomenNetwork while living in Dallas. It is an entrepreneurial community that gives its members a success system to build their business in a lift as you climb environment. When I decided to move back to my home of Madison, WI, I discovered there was not a chapter in Madison, WI so I started one last year. I also wear the hat of Managing Director of eWomenNetwork – Madison.

Personally, I am single. I have one daughter, Lindsey, that was D1 tennis player at Villanova and now lives and works in Washington DC and a dog, Odie. In addition to eWomenNetwork, I belong to several groups in the community and elsewhere: Tempo Madison, Engaging Speakers, The YOU Brand, BeeKonnected, Middleton Chamber of Commerce and bpa (Business Professionals Association) . While I don’t work it except as needed in events, I am also an Independent Wine Ambassador for Boisset Collection. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, walking, reading, cooking, dining out, live music, and theater.

Tell Us About Your Company! How Did You Start It? Why Did You Start It?

My company is Eventful Advantage LLC – a premier event production and consulting company (both in-person and online) where we work with business owners to build their business and brand with events while making sure their attendees have great experiences. Our tag line – Create experiences not just events!

When I moved from Fairfield, CT to Dallas, TX for my last job in the wholesale arena, it was a time where I was recently divorced after 20 years of marriage, I was a newly empy nester with my only child going to college and I did not know anyone who lived in Dallas. I initially threw myself into my job but felt that was all that I did – work. I ended up rescuing my dog, Odie, who helped put some balance in my life. I was a “boss lady” at work and one of the few females at my level so it was hard to be “friends” with people at work. I learned about Meetup and started checking out singles groups for my age group. I met a few people but still felt I wasn’t finding my people. I decided to create my own group for singles 45+. While working at my big corporate job, I was organizing events for this group. It started with only a few people but eventually grew to over 2700 people in less than 3 years. When I did lose my job through a restructuring and started interviewing for like positions – it would have required another move, starting over again and I just lost my passion. It was always my desire to start my own company and so I started trying to figure out what that would look like. People who I talked to about this looked at me strange and told me – you do events!

In looking back at my life, I have been doing events since I was in high school, for groups in college and used them to build business in my retail/wholesale career. I love bringing people together and it fits my skill set of being very organized with a high attention to detail. I did my due diligence and put myself through an event planning course. Used SCORE. Did all the start up tactical things. And launched my business.

How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?

My first customers mainly came from networking in different groups and referrals from networking. I did get one of my first customers through a google my business inquiry. I initially threw a wide net and did all types of events – both business and social. I was proud that I could do it all. However, I found when I worked on business events that I could give my customers more value by also being a business consultant with their event. Typically event people come from the hospitality world and not business, so this was something that I could offer that would be different than what most could offer.

After an aha moment, I realized that I no longer needed to live away from family for a job since I had my own company. After my daughter was settled after graduating from college, I decided to move back to the Madison, WI area. I needed to restart my company in Madison and also start the new eWomenNetwork chapter. I decided to use this time to rebrand my business with my learnings from my initial launch in Dallas as a business event production and consulting company.

My business relaunched this year and only has been active for a few months prior to Covid, but I have completed 3 customer events, one additional one cancelled the day of the event due to Covid and several others that were in place have been cancelled or “paused”. I added online event services to my business and do all my eWomenNetwork events since March online. I have consulted with many businesses on having online events and virtual retreats. I have created new online business packages and have a few online events in the works. I have started to speak to groups on the Power of Events and Create Experiences Not Just Events. I have also done some trainings on this and I am currently working on a course. I had hoped to have more customers by this time, but I am not the only one in this industry who is having a tough time right now.

How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?

Networking is still a key way for growth – even it if is online. Also speaking has gained me some potential clients. I am writing blogs, being active on LinkedIn and Facebook with social media posts and becoming a thought leader in my industry. I am being asked for my input based on my expertise and people outside my usual target are asking for my help for online purposes and keeping their audience engaged.

What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?

Network, give a lot – even some for free to get customer feedback, testimonials, pictures for website…and speak to as many groups as you can.

What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?

Resilience. Collaboration. Don’t Give Up. Events take way more time and energy than most people know.

What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?

Working with two partners for a conference that ended up fighting so badly with each other that they tried to use me as a go between to communicate with one another.

What Are Your Favorite Books?

Fiction Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Anything You’d Like To Plug?

Get my complimentary “Business Event Experience Checklist” by going to https://eventfuladvantage.com/

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