By Tiffany Nixon
Director, Impact Investment Services
During April 24-26, 2023, I had the pleasure of attending the 2023 SourceLink Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This event gathered SourceLink’s national affiliate partners to share knowledge, best practices and inspiration in the field of entrepreneurship and economic development. Not only was this summit located in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico, it was packed with so much knowledge and the most wonderful people.
NetWork Kansas is one of 80 affiliate partners in SourceLink’s network of business building organizations. SourceLink is a national not-for-profit organization working to build vibrant and cohesive entrepreneurial ecosystems that attract startups, accelerate business growth, create jobs and develop sustainable partnerships. SourceLink provides access to a community of entrepreneurs, government leaders and ecosystem builders who share best practices and lessons learned for building diverse and equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems.
“The SourceLink Summit in San Juan was a true celebration! We celebrated our affiliates and the hard work they do every day and we celebrated being together. One of our goals was to provide opportunities for peer mentoring and networking,” said Rob Williams, Director, SourceLink.
The 2023 Sourcelink Summit lasted 3 days and by the time we left it felt like we were in a room full of family. No one was ready to leave, which is an incredible feeling to have after attending a work conference! When you work in entrepreneurship support, you are surrounded by like-minded individuals with similar goals and a shared purpose – to help each other and to support the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The first day of the summit may have been my favorite! It started off with a fun introduction where we took turns guessing fun facts about each other, connecting through these unique tidbits and learning about common interests. From keynote speakers including Melea McRae, Founder & CEO of marketing “unagency” CRUX KC, to listening to Maria Meyers talk about the history and success of SourceLink as they celebrate 20 years, it was definitely a day to remember.
We concluded our first day with a lesson from a local social entrepreneur, Rafael Cancel, in how to salsa dance (which you can imagine was a sight to see!). We later met up on the roof of the Marriott, watched the sunset, enjoyed food, drinks, each other’s company, and had the pleasure of hearing from Jonathan Ortmans, President of Global Entrepreneurship Network.
Day two of the summit was an engaging day where every affiliate had a chance to share best practices and have an open discussion.
“The sessions were designed to include affiliate members who could best demonstrate successful best practices so others could benefit. A big thank you to Tiffany, representing NetWork Kansas, to share insights from running a hotline center for many years and how NetWork Kansas has varied their programs to sustain overall success.” Rob Williams, Director, SourceLink.
Topics ranged from maximizing your resource partner network and network navigation, to successful storytelling, sustainability secrets and strategies for funding. Each organization has unique talents, expertise and backgrounds. Despite our diversity, we all have similar struggles that we were able to work through together and find new best practice ideas. We ended Day two with dinner at a local restaurant that had the most amazing fish I’ve ever eaten. If you ever go to San Juan, check out Cayo Caribe.
The final half day of the summit, came too quickly. We reviewed best practices for the SiteConnex Website, as well as SourceLinkPro and Resource Navigator. NetWork Kansas has utilized SourceLinkPro and Resource Navigator since our inception. We are currently incorporating more of our internal process into the SourceLinkPro CRM, working closely with the SourceLink team and are very excited for the future. As we wrapped up the day there was time to share how thankful we all were for our SourceLink team, this summit and every person there. Tears were shed and hugs were shared as we all took off in different directions, some to the airport, some back to the hotel to rest and some out to adventure in the beautiful city of San Juan.
You may have guessed already, but I jumped on the opportunity to stay a little longer to explore and adventure in the city. I explored the El Yunque Rainforest, Old San Juan, watched the sunrise and even went night kayaking in the bay with my new friend from SourceLink, Ananya Padhiari. This was a trip of a lifetime that I will forever remember. Not only did I have the privilege of collaborating with our incredible partners, but I also embraced stepping outside my comfort zone, exploring new destinations, and forging meaningful friendships along the way! For all of this, I am truly grateful.
Photo Credits: SourceLink
Photo Credits: Tiffany Nixon