Join our Newsletter!
Get in Touch!

WWOTB Adopts Virtual Programming

02 Jun 2020 11:36 AM | Working Women (Administrator)

When the global pandemic hit a turning point in the United States in early March, life as we knew it changed practically overnight. As COVID-19 cases spread across the country, the disruptions to daily life were swift and dramatic. Many businesses, schools and organizations went dark, uncertain when they might open again, or were forced to adapt their operations.

Working Women of Tampa Bay embraced the changing world with gusto. CEO and Founder Jessica Rivelli acted quickly to create a full calendar of virtual events, recognizing the importance of connecting with the organization’s base of professional women during this crisis. 

“We chose to pivot to virtual events after the (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) recommended that events or gatherings of 20 or more were discouraged,” she said. “All of our events draw 20 or more. We were encouraged to pivot and because all of our events prior to COVID-19 were in-person events, this meant we had to completely change our business model and the way we operate.”

Since mid-March, the organization has turned to Zoom, a video and audio conference call platform, to double the number of events it would typically host in a month. 

Working Women of Tampa Bay held its first virtual event, a workshop entitled “Surviving & Thriving During Unsettling Times,” led by Beth Kerly, an associate profession of business and entrepreneurship at Hillsborough Community College, March 18.

Two months later, by May 15, WWTB has hosted an astounding 50 virtual events with more than 550 attendees. While several of these events have had a networking component to them, such as the Coffee Connections or Happy Hours, the majority have focused on e-learning and workshops.

“By far the Zooms that have a learning component are much more popular than just the traditional networking,” Rivelli said, which deviates from the norm for WWTB. “In the past, the needs of our members have been equal on the networking and education front. Now there is an increased demand for online education. You have a captive audience of women, particularly women businesses owners, who have this time to better themselves.”

Educational topics have run the gamut with a focus on skills that are useful to business owners in these uncertain times, she added. Workshops have included “Take Your Business Virtual Using Zoom,” “Be Your Own Publicist,” “Apps for Creating & Curating Content,”  “SEO Tips & Tricks,” “What’s Your Plan B” and “Selling with Integrity and Ease.”

The workshops have been met with rave reviews.

Michelle Turpeau, founder and president of Social Vive Marketing who has taught Instagram workshops and attended several others, said she is impressed by the organization’s ability to change gears quickly in order to further its mission of supporting working women. 

“WWTB is an organization where we are not only supporting and empowering women but also building relationships and educating ourselves,” she said. “During this pandemic it is super important to continue to do so virtually. We have to stay connected, continue learning, growing and keep some sort of normalcy…The value of these events is not only how we continue to keep our relationships strong but also for us to learn and share our own experiences on how we pivot our businesses for the benefit of others.”

Theo Prodromitis, the co-founder and CEO of Spa Destinations who led workshops such as “Creating New Rituals & Routines” and “Online Selling Opportunities,” agrees.

“It’s more important than ever for our WWTB community to stay connected,” she said. “Sharing many members’ expertise is an enormous gift. It provides us a chance to stay in touch, help each other, learn new and necessary skills, and stay positive.”

While many organizations are figuring out how to navigate the new normal, WWTB is ahead of the game, said Michelle Turman, CEO for Catalyst Consulting Services. 

“Out of all the organizations (membership-based and otherwise) in our Tampa community, WWTB really provided the best and almost immediately. They did not miss a beat in transitioning to a virtual platform for members to feel that their membership still had value,” she said. “Founder Jessica Rivelli also led by example in supporting women-owned businesses who were hurting during this time and encouraged others to do the same. The organization has always been about women supporting women and the support (emotional, financial, and mental) were very valuable to me and other women.”

Rivelli is proud of what WWTB has accomplished during the pandemic. 

WWTB will continue its digital programming while Rivelli monitors the CDC recommendations for events and gatherings.

“Once social distancing recommendations relax, we’ll start to blend in some smaller group in-person networking,” she said. “We’ll continue our virtual programs until it’s completely relaxed.”

A full schedule of upcoming workshops can be found here

Rivelli strives to keep costs low for attendees – just $10 for members and $15 for non-members.

During the first 30 days of online programming, half of the proceeds were donated back to the Working Women Foundation, WWTB’s nonprofit arm that has provided around $50,000 in seed money to women-run start-ups in five years. 

Zoom programming proceeds were used to purchase about $5,000 worth of gift cards from women-owned businesses that shut down or had limited capacity because of COVID-19. These gift cards will be included in raffles at future fundraising events.

“It was important to us that we also help women-owned businesses struggling. Some of the women on these Zooms were also the women who were not able to keep their business open,” Rivelli said. “There was a full-circle feel to it.”

Working WomenHome | About | Events | Join Us | Sponsors | Blog | Connect | Site Map
1-888-WW-UNITE •
Copyright 2020 Working Women of Tampa Bay  |  3030 N. Rocky Point Dr. | Suite 150 | Tampa, FL 33607
Design Integration by The ARRC™

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software