Women have 'B.I.G.' ideas for Sewickley area business group

| Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

Sheryl Johnson and Vickie Rotante have become part of something B.I.G. and want others to be a part of it too.

They have started a new chapter of B.I.G., or Believe, Inspire, Grow — a support, education and networking business organization for women with more than 1,500 members in 50 chapter in five states.

This is the first in Pennsylvania and is based in the Sewickley area. Johnson has her own business, BD-PRO Marketing Solutions based in Pittsburgh.

Through an online conversation with a client, she was introduced to Tara Gilver and Rebecca Hull, who founded B.I.G., a business, in Bernardsville, N.J., in 2009. There now are chapters in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois. Founders and chapter leaders began to use Johnson's online Network Pro Toolkit that leads users through steps for more-effective networking, and Johnson spoke at the B.I.G. annual conference in New Jersey last year.

She and Rotante, both of Franklin Park, got the ball rolling on their new chapter earlier this week with a launch tea party at the Christy House in Sewickley.

Meetings for members will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. every last Tuesday of the month in Sewickley Public Library.

The next meeting will be a “getting-to-know-you” event so that Johnson and Rotante can work on scheduling speakers who will present topics of interest to the group.

The group is for business women looking for new ideas; those who have an idea for a business; those who are looking for a career change; and for those who don't know where they are headed.

“Topics could be anything from more effective use of social media to goal setting,” Johnson said.

The group will participate in B.I.G.'s high school scholarship fund.

Rotante, a New York native, is the founder of Impera Executive Recruiters with offices in Pittsburgh and New York City and said she and Johnson share a passion for mentoring and supporting other women by providing information on business-related resources, coaching and seminars, as well as a forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences. Rebecca Harris, director of Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, will speak in March.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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