Catch up on top advice and stories from every speaker at #WIN19Donegal

The Women’s Inspire Network came to town on Wednesday last for a jam-packed day of advice, stories and inspiration for women in business.

With around 180 attendees, 20 speakers and panellists, and almost 10,000 social media interactions, there was no shortage of sharing and networking – both in person and online.

A stellar line up of speakers imparted personal stories and business tips to an engaged audience throughout the day. ‘Overcoming Challenges’ was the theme for the Donegal seminar for the online business group that connects and empowers female-led businesses.

But if you missed the event or want to catch up on the best advice, here’s our recap of top lessons learned at #WIN19Donegal:

Mags Boland Murphy, Bofin Consultancy opened the day with a practical talk on pricing. She prompted the audience to strive to clearly communicate the value that they offer in their product or service.

She shared confident price tips for all and enforced the age-old message: Time is Money.

“Pricing influences the perception, perception influences the purchase,” Mags Boland Murphy said.

Marian McKenna, owner of La Crème Boutique in Gorey gave a style masterclass on perfecting workwear and occasion wear looks. Bringing audience members to the stage, she tackled common issues and style mistakes with top tips. From hemlines to heel height, her knowledge inspired confident and comfortable dressing.

Interior Designer Anne Tuohy, aka the award-winning Room Junkie, shared a deeply personal reflection on what she was doing on that very day last year.

On 10th April 2018, Anne’s husband Niall had taken seriously ill in their home and was airlifted to Galway Hospital with a 2% chance of survival. A year on, and with Niall making a full recovery, Anne shared how she found an inner strength to fight for her husband’s care.

Anne combined this story of her own resilience with her business journey to inspire others to find their unique values.

“You are far stronger than you think you are, you are far better than you think you are,” Anne Tuohy said.

Moira Ní Ghallachóir, business mentor at MNG, gave a motivational talk on self-exploration in business.

“What is ONE thing that you want from your business or your life?” she asked.

“If we don’t know what we want, we don’t have a reason to do what we do.”

Moira Ní Ghallachóir, MNG, at the Women’s Inspire Spring Seminar

Physiotherapist Lorraine Boyce, founder of Down Below Physio, shared her business journey from working with rugby teams in New Zealand to specialising on women’s health in Letterkenny. Boyce’s talk broke down all taboos about pelvic health issues in an eye-opening and entertaining way.

Dermot Devlin, disability rights campaigner and founder of My Way Access, spoke about the power of social media.

Through social networking, he has successfully campaigned for access to a drug which would prolong his life and has built an open community for greater disability awareness.

“Find the voice that works for you,” – Dermot Devlin.

Born with a rare disease called mucopolysaccharides morquio, Dermot revealed how his battle against cyber-bullying led him to work with the UK government on building legislation to protect people with disabilities for being attacked online.

Best-selling author and charity founder Sharon Thompson revisited her darkest days to share the loss of her baby daughter, Victoria. Sharon and her husband Brian’s experience and grief led them to set up a scholarship fund for the advancement of children’s palliative care in Ireland.

Sharon was also inspired to begin her writing life at this time, and has gone on to write two Irish crime novels, become a popular columnist and establish an online writers’ group. She had a wealth of knowledge to impact on the audience, such as ‘write what’s in your heart’ and ‘find your tribe’.

Sharon guided others to grow from life’s challenges:

“Sometimes when you are broken down, you will be broken open.” – Sharon Thompson

North West Solicitor Michelle Mc Loughlin made all 180 guests stand up and ‘be accountable’ in her motivational talk. She set challenges for the entrepreneurs to stick to their resolutions to reach their goals.

“Every single one of you is brilliant at what you do. Believe in yourself and just go for it. If you fall flat on your face, we are all around you to pick you up” – Michelle McLoughlin

Louise McDonnell grasped the room’s attention with top tips on Facebook advertising. The author and marketing expert imparted insight on steps to expand your social media reach, choose the right platform to reach customers and convert content into sales.

Zack Gallagher, who is known as the Irish Food Guide, shared his quest to change the world’s perception of Irish food through Google images. In order to overcome stereotypical images of bacon and cabbage turning up when people search for Irish food, he encouraged the industry to save accurate descriptions within their photos. And it worked.

A panel discussion selected three audience members at random for a stage appearance. This saw Barbara Edwards from BeCoached, Alison Egan Coaching and Evelyn Cagney from Pet Lamb Designs having an engaging discussion on business start-ups and challenges.

Patricia Greene from The Web Club was next on the stage to blend web development tips with business advice.

She told entrepreneurs to pay careful attention to the content on their websites: “Unless you are being consistent and delivering valuable content, you are not going to get the attention of Google,” Patricia said.

Setbacks and resilience were a major theme in Aoife Keady’s business journey. The entrepreneur is about to launch an events guide app called What’s Where. The idea was born after Aoife suffered a major financial loss from a previous app development that fell through.

However, she picked herself up and moved with her husband and daughter to San Francisco. It was there that she made unexpected connections with Silicon Valley developers and is currently putting the finishing touches to WhatsWhere.

“When you get out there. When you meet people. Changes happen,” Aoife Keady.

Moira Dunne from had key advice for business leaders to have less stress, more control and more productivity.

“Value your time, it’s precious,” was Moira’s message, as she encouraged the audience to manage tasks and priorities wisely.

There was a lot of anticipation for Samantha Kelly’s talk – everyone wanted to hear the story of the woman who had brought them all together for the day.

The Women’s Inspire Network founder shared how she rose from social welfare to social media influencer through #TwitterMagic. Now, she tweets as the @TweetingGoddess and has almost 50,000 followers… along with a coveted blue tick.

Samantha opened up about her past struggles with alcoholism and how she started her Twitter empire with no business experience at all. But, by showing a personal side to her endeavours, she created a real connection with customers.

Samantha’s most valuable piece of advice was: “Help others and they will help you back.”

This approach was also part of the origins of the Women’s Inspire Network. Samantha’s successful group brings women around the world together for shared learning and support through social media.

“Surround your people who get you, who understand what you are doing,” – Samantha Kelly

The final speaker was Anna Daly. For a change, the Weekend AM host and MC of the day was in the hot seat to face questions from Samantha Kelly.

A self-starter, Anna spoke about making the decision to change your career path and not looking back.

After joining Ireland AM on Virgin Media One, she shared how she pitched a Saturday morning show so that she could achieve her goal of becoming an anchor. That’s how Weekend AM came to be.

Anna also had helpful advice for entrepreneurs who have ambitions to be on television. “Hook  it on a celebrity, it’ll get you there.”

Anna Daly and Samantha Kelly in coversation at the Women’s Inspire Spring Seminar

A final panel discussion brought Editor and WINDonegal Media Partner Rachel McLaughlin and Outside the Box PR founder Emma Boylan to the stage for a look ahead to the future of female entrepreneurship. The ‘girl boss’ term, leadership and gender quotas were hot topics in the open discussion.

Many of the talks, themed on Overcoming Challenges, reflected the main values of the Women’s Inspire Network.

From business management and marketing to personal development and wellbeing, WIN is a unique online resource for inspiration, learning, knowledge-sharing and networking.

Looking back on the event, Samantha Kelly says: “Our Donegal seminar and speakers were truly inspirational, with so many women doing awesome things in the area.  Meeting in person is great for networking, but with social media like the WIN forum, our advantage is that you can reach any number of people, at any time, for help and advice, no matter where you are located.”

Businesswomen and entrepreneurs interested in joining the online Women’s Inspire Network can get more information

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