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Connext Nation


By Debby Peters,

Celebrating Our 17th Year of Helping Our Grads to REALLY Connect!

Annual Summer Picnic
Summer would not be complete without the CN summer picnic at Debby and Steve’s home.  Who will win the heavily contested dessert contest this year????  The date is August 5, from 2-5 PM.  The cost to attend is $6 for adults and $2 for kids.  We always have plenty of food in addition to the above mentioned desserts.  Water and lemonade are available; please bring whatever else you would like to drink.  Debby and Steve live about 4 miles south of Perrysburg (only about 10 minutes from the turnpike exit for those coming from Cleveland) and offer plenty of activities for everyone including:  swimming, wading, jumping of the dock, fishing (catch & release, bring your own gear), kayaking, canoeing, and just walking around taking a peek at all that might be growing.  Of course chatting with your CN friends is always an option.  Please register no later than July 25th at this link.

September Lunch

CNer, Chris Kapelski, has made arrangements for us to go back downtown for our September lunch. It will be at Table 44 at 610 Monroe St.  They are reserving the patio for us.  We have asked for a limited menu to order from so that everyone can get what meets their needs.  Parking meters are free during this time and there is also a parking lot next door.  The date of the lunch is September 17, from 11:30-1.  As always we love having grads and their guests at our events including this lunch.

Future Calendar Dates

The BOA has several events planned for the rest of the year! The dates and types of events are listed below so that you can get them on your calendar.  Guests are always welcome at all our events.

Sept 7th        Toledo class starts
Sept 12th      Cleveland class starts
Sept. 17th     Toledo Lunch
Oct 20th        Corn Maize
Nov 19th,      Graduation, 5:30 PM

Social Media
Stay in the Know!!
Never miss out on a networking event again!  As CN confirms an event, it is set up under the Events tab on our Facebook page with all of the info and links to register if applicable.  While on our Facebook page, simply click on the Events tab and you will see the Subscribe button on the right just above the list of events. Click on it and you are set to go! You can also invite people to the events and share them to your Facebook page as well! Visit our page at today!

Member Spotlight:

Michelle Ansara
by Kerri Brimmer,

 It is always a pleasure speaking with Michelle. She is a delightful lunch companion, and has many experiences to share with the world. You can find Michelle at many Women of Toledo events as she and co-founder Nina Corder continue to educate, engage and empower Toledo women. Their organization is focused on encouraging inclusion and celebrating diversity, which helps everyone.  

Here are Michelle’s answers to a few “getting to know you” questions:

Q: What is your most memorable moment?

A: There have been so many (babies, finally getting my degree at 40, grand-babies, making some of the most amazing friends/colleagues in just the last 10 years) and I think the MOST appreciated and memorable moments were during the last two years and the need for a kidney transplant. The friends and family that offered to get tested (my sis was first and she matched 100%) and the unbelievable number of all the aforementioned friends and colleagues that supported my sister and me with love, prayers as well as contributing to our recovery fund.  I am very grateful for every single person that sent their well wishes – Thank You! 

Q: What is most important to you in life?

A: My family and friends pretty much make up my life.  I am lost without them.  It is very important to me to be able to give as much as I receive from them and whoever may need a little boost. We all need a great support system in order to accomplish all the things we want to do in this life.

Q: What is something no one knows about you?

A: Our little family secret is that Michael Ansara claims us as “cousins” when, in actuality, he is related to my father’s brother-in-law (yup, same last name-no relation!).  Michael and my uncle were first cousins.  We have had the privilege of visiting with Michael and his wife several times here in Toledo when he would  play in the Pro/Am tournaments and we’d all have lunch together at my brother’s restaurant downtown. 

Q: Who is a part of your immediate family?

A: I have two beautiful baby boys that are 33 and 35 and have been blessed with a handful of a granddaughter who will be seven in a few months.  I just wish I knew as much as she does!!  Being of Palestinian and Lebanese heritage, my immediate family goes out several levels and will only mention that I have five brothers (one deceased) and one sister and we all live within a three-hour radius, so we are able to see each other quite often.  Honestly, we are blessed to be able to be so close as we rarely go more than a day or two without speaking to a sibling.  Sadly, it is the next generation that has been moving away from Toledo and I know that I will miss seeing them regularly.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: My favorite pastime is to spend time with friends and family.  I love to cook and love entertaining.  I do also love to travel and have several trips planned yet for this year as I am making up for lost time with no vacations to speak of over the last two years!  Still coming up on my bucket list is Greece, Holy Land and Egypt and Morocco (spoiler – in process of planning for next year!)

Q: Is there something you have always wanted to do but haven't been able to yet?

A: One thing I have yet to try and pretty sure I will be able to go through with them are skydiving and parasailing.  I will be checking out the parasail part later this year so I’ll let you know how it goes.  On a more conservative note, there are several family dishes that I helped my mother with and didn’t completely learn how to make and am tracking down her “recipes” and attempting to duplicate is next on the agenda.

Q: How did you get started in your current business?

A: Women of Toledo was a happy accident and one should always believe in things happening for a reason.  Nina and I met quite accidentally at an Expo in Genoa OH.  We were both in direct sales, selling jewelry and they had put our booths next to each other.  We spent the day visiting and exchanged information.  We met a few times over a few months and became friends.  She was working on her Dissertation and it focused on Diversity in Networking and one thing led to another. We built a focus group and had several talking circles to see if there was a need for a women’s group focusing on diversity and inclusion.  The answer?  A resounding yes and we have grown into the organization that advocates for Diversity and Inclusion and Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) using a 3E model (Educate, Engage and Empower) in all our programs.  It’s been unbelievable and I am so happy Nina and I are on this journey together.  

Q: What organizations are you a part of?

A: Due to the previously mentioned health issues, I have stepped back from actively engaging in more than I could handle with Women of Toledo commitments.  Previously, I was very involved with So Now and was on the initial board implementing the Findlay/Lima extension. I was able to finally attend a WEN luncheon during the latter part of my recovery. Now that I am slowly getting back into the swing of things, I will be able to get out and join in more often.  

Q: What is your greatest challenge related to your business?

A: We are still in the initial stages of building [Women of Toledo], so we are always looking for volunteers to join our planning committees and also to partner with organizations that have similar missions so we may work together to offer programs to the community.  As a non-profit, we do encourage sponsors for our events so we are happy to collaborate with for-business organizations and are able to promote both of our organizations at the event.

Q: How did the Connext Nation course affect your career?

A: I’ve been through the course a couple of times.  In 2011, I had a direct sales jewelry business and wanted to find a better way to market it as there were a ton of DS advisors doing the same thing.  One of my marketing promotions was a bridal program and learned how to build that program into my target market and that made it much easier to build up a clientele.  Brides and their friends love jewels so even after the wedding my services could still be relevant and fun!

The second time was just a few short years ago when Nina Corder and I started Women of Toledo. Marketing a non-profit and determining a target market for our curriculum (which was continually evolving into what we offer today) was (I thought) completely different from sales.  Not so it seems!  We both learned there was a lot in common in building up clients for sales as it was for non-profit community services.  We have since built partnerships with other non-profit organizations (referral partners!) and have reached a greater number of women and youth in the community over the last two years and 2018 is shaping up better than ever!

Q: What element of the Connext Nation course do you find you use regularly?

A: I’ve always been a fan of connecting people, whether for business or pleasure, and learned the importance of it from the course. Developing a target market was the aspect I thought quite useful. Not only was it helpful in describing your perfect client to others, it was also so much easier to make referrals once I understood how to determine what the other person really was looking for in a client.

Q: What is your favorite type of job/project?

A: I love the events where we bring together people from the community that may never see each other in general life travels and watch as connections are being made.  It’s happened many times where those people stay in contact and build relationships.  I am ecstatic when the attendees at any of our programs leave with a sense of purpose and inspiration.  If we are able to help make a difference in just one person’s life, we have succeeded in our mission. 

Great job, Michelle!


CN Horn Tooting


Training videos continue to grow more popular, as do videos that 'train the trainer'.  CN'er KC Allen, Allen Film & Video, in Findlay just completed filming for a 'train the trainer' series at Benchmark International, in an effort to recruit and retain more employees, strengthening their already solid market brand. (

Angela Crosby is following her passion in the safety field. She recently accepted a position with the Safety Council of Northwest Ohio and will be providing safety services and consulting to the community. When you need OSHA, First-Aid/CPR, Professional Safety Development, or other safety related services, give her a buzz at 419-662-7777 or

Julie Spann Johnson, State Farm, has relocated her office to 221 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg.  They are so excited to be a part of the downtown community.

Jody Zink, Realtor at RE/MAX Preferred hit a home run July 12th for her team called the Rule 61's. She's played on this Toledo's Lawyer League since 2003.

Pam Weirauch, formerly of Pam's Corner, Ltd, has just completed her training and accepted the position of manager for Bartz Viviano at their Oregon location. Pam is excited to be part of the locally owned flower and gift shop. If you find yourself in the Oregon area (Navarre/Rt 2 to be specific) stop by and say hello. (Noting that she is not in the store on Mondays or Thursdays).

Jessica Smith recently took a new position as the program director for the Grove at Oakleaf Village, an assisted living unit specializing in memory care in Sylvania. Her first day is August 13.
Are Networking Events Seasonal?
by Chris Kapelski,

  I was recently talking with a good friend of mine (to protect the innocent let’s call him Bob) and we stumbled across an interesting topic. Initially we talked about life and all the normal things, but as always, we ended up talking about business and how things had been going. One thing lead to another and we both found ourselves deep in thought about networking. You see, Bob believed networking events are seasonal and that interested me because I hadn’t heard that idea before. It ended up being a 3-hour conversation but I’ll spare you the time and cut it down to the good parts.

The basic thought process behind the concept was that the quantity of networking events in our general area greatly fluctuates based on two things, the time of year and holidays. Bob also suggested that attendance at networking events seemed to be seasonal as well, with more people attending events in the winter months than the summer ones. Taking of all this into consideration he concluded that if he worked hard enough at networking in the winter, he could skip it in the summer.

Rules are Rules
While some rules are made to be broken, I honestly feel there are also some that shouldn’t be touched. Bob’s conclusion had completely contradicted one of my core rules and we had to get to the bottom of it. By trade I’m in the website design and marketing industry and one of our most coveted rules when it comes to marketing is, consistency is key. Since networking is a form of marketing, I always applied the rule across the board. But Bob brought up an interesting point. If you could do enough in the winter should you really keep working hard in the summer just because of some rule?

The Answer
After a long period of debate that covered a wide variety of points and counter points, we both agreed on one thing. In our search to answer the initial question we both completely missed the more important question. Is your business seasonal? 

Neither of our businesses would be considered a seasonal one. However, as small business owners we both experienced seasonality in our businesses in the early years. Times when projects were flying in left and right and times where it seemed we couldn’t land a client if we were the last company on earth. Over the years, and again through our conversation, we eventually realized that seasonality was the result of other factors like our networking efforts. We finally agreed. The seasonality of networking events was irrelevant. If we wanted our businesses to flourish and land clients all year our networking efforts had to be consistent. 

My Solution
Being in the website design and marketing world, we do a lot of planning. I decided I needed to make a plan and get control of my problem. I picked a day and put it on my schedule. I sat down and mapped out every organization I was in, how much progress I felt I had made toward my goal, outstanding tasks I committed to, and all the other relevant details. By the time I was done the list was startling. It quickly became clear, I needed to wrap up my commitments and narrow my focus to just a couple organizations. So that’s exactly what I did, and the results were amazing. Within the next 6 months I was able to attend events much more consistently. People got to know me, trust me, and even started referring some business. While I wasn’t committing to help every time they asked, I was able to do a much better job when I did volunteer, and it was noticed. By narrowing my focus and netWORKING less, I was able to make a bigger impact on the organizations I was a part of and move toward my goals quicker.

While this is a trap that most business owners fall into early on, it can really happen at any stage of your business life. Let this article be your friend that provides the dose of reality and take a moment and think. Are you netWORKing too hard?

When to StopNetworking
Debby Peters,

 Is there ever a time to NOT network? Since I’m the “networking guru” you would think that you could predict my answer before anyone else can beat you to it.  My answer might surprise you though, because in my book, the answer is yes, there is a time to not network!

I recently returned from a high powered, high energy conference with about 1500 attendees.  The conference agenda was crammed with meaningful sessions and many of the topics were foreign to me.  I had to don my learning hat all day long.  Additionally, the attendees were all very engaged, involved and energized by getting to see each other.  Lots of loud conversation abounded.  Added to all that this was my first year at this conference, so I was feeling my way as best as I could.  The evening of the third day was the award dinner and entertainment event.  Even though I had paid in advance for this, I made a decision to not go.  I realized that my networking tank was empty.  I didn’t want to converse with one more person nor did I want to sit one more minute in an uncomfortable seat. Basically I was burned out.

This permission to bow-out was necessary for me at that time.  I just didn’t have an energy reserve to make it all happen. I knew that I still had one more day of conference learning and socializing and decided to let myself off the hook to add a bit a fuel to make it through the next day.

I am positive that you have found yourself in similar situations.  I am giving you permission (not that you need it!) to take a breather.  You will be much better for it, as was I.


Networking Tidbit

Many of us have been approached by someone we are meeting for the first time, with some sort of list of our personal contacts that they have mined before arriving at the appointment.  At some point they ask to be introduced to those on the list.  We chatted about this awkward situation at a recent Board of Action meeting and Bob Werner shared a line that was absolutely helpful.  He says, “I know all these people really well, but I really don’t know you that well. That is the reason that I cannot make the introductions.” Enough said!

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