young professionals

5 Reasons why Executives Should Build Strong Relationships

By: Kara Stucky

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” -African Proverb


Whether you’re a young entrepreneur launching your first business, an experienced professional working at a large multi-faceted organization, or a student who hasn’t quite stepped out into the working world, one thing holds true: building successful relationships will be the key to your future success. Have you ever wondered, “Why should I network?” Or “What’s the point?” Here are five reasons building lasting relationships is critical to your success.

  • You’ll Outperform Your Peers: According to, “Executives who consistently rank in the top 20% of their companies in both performance and well-being have diverse but select networks...made up of high-quality relationships with people who come from several different spheres and from up and down the corporate hierarchy.”
  • A New Perspective: Stepping outside of your current industry and meeting new professionals who are in a different domain or sector than yours will provide you with a different outlook and a fresh perspective. Tom Farley, President of the NYSE advises that “networking is about collecting relationships with interesting or influential people irrespective of the immediate benefit of these relationships.”
  • What Are You Giving Others? Those who get the most out of networking, and who build the strongest business relationships, are those who are generous. Offer others your expertise or help before asking for something for yourself. If you help out others, by offering advice or giving a referral, you’ll be more likely to build long-lasting relationships.
  • Gain Confidence: Sharing your story with others will help you build  confidence in your own brand building.  Once you share your story, try to find common ground and connect with others. Don’t feel intimidated - Farley encourages that “often times people miss opportunities to network because they feel intimidated, particularly if the other person is more senior.”
  • New Opportunities: states that “sometimes it’s individuals outside your immediate network that end up offering the advice you need to propel your career forward.” So remember, that even if you aren’t looking for a new career opportunity today, the investment in others that you are making today, could help you out tomorrow.

Don’t spread yourself too thin when it comes to building these relationships and remember that authenticity is key.

Join us at our next Magnet event for the opportunity to connect with talented, young professionals in the Madison area. Hope to see you there!

Gain Professional Experience with Magnet

By: Melissa Johnson We're almost to the new year, and we are already looking to 2016 planning. What are your goals for 2016? Do you want to get more involved?

We'd love to talk to you about joining one of our committees - Marketing, Social, Professional Development, Membership, and Community Involvement. It's your chance to get involved and gain experience!

What is Magnet?

Madison Magnet is a membership-based young professionals networking group in Madison, WI, and we focus on three main pillars: Community Involvement, Professional Development, and Social and Networking. There are committees for each of these pillars that work to create events and membership value to connect, collaborate, and develop the talent in Madison.

What are the committees?

The Social Committee manages social and cultural events for Magnet, including our monthly networking happy hours, annual holiday party and more. The committee is constantly looking for opportunities to bring members and non-members together in new and fun ways. Examples of other events we have organized include a Madison Eats food tour, group workout classes and the annual Magnet golf outing.  Interested in fine tuning your event management skills or just want to help foster our growing sense of community? The Social Committee may be for you. Please contact Jill Shiroma if you are interested. 

The Professional Development Committee is tasked with creating interactive and informative opportunities that are designed to educate and enhance the career goals and skills of Magnet members. Whatever your field or professional interests, you are sure to find events that are appealing and accelerate your professional success. Past events include: No Fear Networking; Productivity Workshop; and Magnetic: Exploring Entrepreneurism. We’d love to hear from you on programming or event ideas so we can continue to provide opportunities that our members want! Please contact Erin West if you are interested. 

The Community Involvement Committee coordinates volunteering and community outreach opportunities for Magnet members and friends. With the busy lives of young professionals, the activities facilitated by this committee are an easy way for get and stay more involved with the wider Madison community, which is near and dear to all of us. In addition to participating in community events, we would encourage you to get involved with the committee which meets monthly, to help plan and coordinate an event for an organization which is important to you. Please contact Zack Robbins if you are interested. 

The Marketing Committee is a group of young professionals that work together to create organization awareness, promote Magnet’s mission and values, and grow the membership base through value-based marketing messages. Each team member has a specific and accountable role such as email manager, social media manager, design lead, content manager, and more. We meet once a month for an hour to brainstorm, strategize, and execute on our campaigns. Please contact Melissa Johnson if you are interested. 

The Membership Committee focuses on all aspects of membership in effort to provide the most value for joining Magnet. We plan and host events to both educate prospective members, and welcome new members to Magnet. We collaborate with the Social Committee to plan exclusive, members-only events to further integrate our membership. Additionally, we work with community partners to secure member benefits. Our aim is to ensure all those who join Magnet are engaged and excited about being a part of our organization. Please contact Elizabeth Purcell if you are interested. We look forward to meeting you, and your contributions to the community. Here's to a great 2016!

Quarterly Catch Up: Get up to Date on our Recent Events!

By: Corinn Ploessl We hope you were able to network with us at one of our many events these past few months, BUT on the off-chance you didn’t make it, here’s what you missed…


Our networking, happy hours are always the highlight as we begin a new month. This past quarter we cheered on the Madison Mallards at our August social in the Duck Blind, we celebrated the end of summer at The Elks Lodge, and finally, sampled some German beer during Oktoberfest at Freiburg Gastropub – a new Monroe Street hot-spot! We hosted three additional events in October that kept our social calendars booked! We took a yellow school bus out to Botham Vineyards for a private tour & tasting. We worked off the wine and appetizers the following week during Sweatworking at Cyc Fitness. And finally, we encountered some mischief while trekking through the haunted forest at Schuster’s Playtime Farm.

Another great members-only social event emerged this quarter – the Meet & Eat! Every other month, Magnet will host a dinner at a local restaurant where members can meet up for dinner, drinks and casual conversation.

Community Involvement Tackling a tough topic in this quarter’s community involvement series, we aimed to shed some light on the issue of poverty in the Madison community. St. Vincent de Paul of Madison provided insight into the challenges faced by members of our community on a daily basis.

Professional Development

We explored entrepreneurism at our “Magnetic” event during Forward Fest in August. We heard from local entrepreneurs (Justin Beck, Per Blue; Scott Resnick, Starting Block Madison; & Laura Gallagher, Creative Company) about their journey, their ups & downs, and received advice on our own start-up ideas.

You’ve all heard that LinkedIn can be a great tool for YPs, but do you know how to write a KILLER LinkedIn profile?? Thanks to Brenda Bernstein’s presentation at our October event, we do! Nearly 200 of us packed into a lecture hall at the UW’s Psychology Building. Brenda gave us strategies for standing out among the LinkedIn crowd and how to add personality to our profiles. A special thanks to UW-Madison Graduate School for co-sponsoring the workshop!

Lastly, our October book review taught us, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Thank you to member, Brian Wulff for leading this discussion!


We’ve drummed up some really cool partnerships this quarter with some of Madison’s best- known cultural organizations.

1. Overture Center of the Arts – Their new series, Arts Connect YP includes pre- and post-show parties designed for young professionals. Each is a specially planned themed-party with signature cocktails, appetizers and fun activities to go with each performance. The best part? It’s only $15 to attend! Keep an eye on our calendar for these not-to-miss events!

2. Madison Symphony Orchestra – A long-standing collaboration was refreshed this quarter with MSO and Club 201. Young professionals gather for amazing classical music in Overture Hall followed by exclusive after-hours parties at the Overture Center's Promenade Lounge (word on the street is there are free appetizers and 1 drink ticket included!). Fun, friendship, and networking combine for this amazing event. Again, stay tuned to our event calendar for more info!

Coming up…

  • New Member Coffee | November 17 from 7:30-8:30 AM @ Panera Bread on University Avenue
  • Volunteer Project: MMoCA Holiday Art Fair | November 20 from 4:30-7:15 PM @ MMoCA
  • Magnet’s Annual Holiday Party: Night at the Cinema | December 3 from 7:00-10:00PM @
  • Madison Children’s Museum

Are you Ready for Freakfest 2015?

By: Zack Robbins Are you ready for Halloween and FREAKFEST?! I hope you were able to make it to Magnet’s “How to write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile” yesterday at the UW-Psychology Building. (We had to move it to a bigger room over in the UW-Psychology building because there was too much interests and we couldn’t fit everyone in the originally scheduled space!) In any case, please join us tonight for a little MISCHIEF at Schuster’s Farm. It’s going to be a blast… if you can handle it! And don’t forget our November Happy Hour at HopCat next week on Thursday the 5th. With great food and over 130 Beers on tap, you won’t want to miss that one. I hope to see you at one of these great events... even better, come in costume, so we know how to pick you on Halloween at FreakFest! 

Here's what you need to know about Madison’s 10th annual FreakFest:

What is it?

The 10th Annual Halloween Bash with live music at three different outdoor stages, tons of CRAZY costumes and who knows what else. It has had a history of occasionally getting out of control… So, have fun, but stay safe!

Where is it?

It completely takes over State Street in Downtown Madison. (Link to FreakFest map for arrows to the entrances, ticket booths and stages.)

When is it?

Saturday, October 31st (Duh, Halloween!) Gates open at 7p.m.

Who will be performing?  

Timeflies is headlining this year's event, with other performances by: Chase Rice, MisterWives, the Cadillac Three and more! Check out the full list HERE.

How can I get tickets?

Tickets available at the gate for $15. Advance tickets are $10 and are on sale now at the Coliseum box office, Ticketmaster, by phone at (800) 745-3000, online at, or at several businesses in the State Street area including:

B-Side Records Knuckleheads Mallatt's Pharmacy (Monroe St. location) Ragstock Strictly Discs Sunshine Daydream University Bookstore Community Pharmacy Stop & Shop Los Gemelos Osaka House The Soap Opera The Towers Apartments The Statesider Apartments Walgreens on Capitol Square Alliant Energy Center Box Office Mad City Frites

CEO Spotlight: Kelly Ehlers of Ideas that Evoke


Madison Magnet Board member and aspiring social media nerd, Jess Parker, catches up with Kelly Ehlers, Founder and CEO of Madison-based social media marketing agency, Ideas That Evoke. I first met Kelly at an Entrepreneurship lunch series hosted by the UW-Madison School of Business.

I was immediately drawn to the story of her start-up as well as her down-to-earth and extremely generous spirit. Kelly’s story is an inspiring example of a young entrepreneur using skills built during employment experiences to launch a successful business in one’s field of expertise. Here are the highlights of our chat!

Kelly Ehlers


Kelly, how would you describe Ideas that Evoke and what you do?

At Ideas That Evoke – we are an agency that solves business challenges through social media. We are today – and have been since day one – intentionally niche in our services. This niche has served us very well. We have a great deal of case studies behind us including experiences with Fortune 50 brands and entrepreneurial businesses.

 Tell me a bit about how you made the transition from the corporate world into business ownership:

I always knew I wanted to own my own agency from my first position post college. One thing I’m glad I didn’t do was jump in to that dream too soon. I paid my dues – I learned from a variety of different people and took all of those learnings with me. I’ve applied the good ones and ditched the not-so-good traits of leaders I’ve previously worked with.

Did you have any fears or anxieties about making this transition?

Of course, it was incredibly scary! I was 5 months pregnant when I started Evoke. My husband and I decided to give me one year to see if I could ‘make it.’ Oh – and have our first child in that time, too. One could call it crazy, but…here I am. I bet on myself, but it was the best bet I could have ever made. Was it incredibly difficulty? Yes. Were there times I thought I should just quit? No. I knew I could do it.

Evoke Graphic 1

What was your biggest struggle in the first year as CEO of Evoke?

Juggling being a soon to be mom and a new business owner. It’s likely hard to go in to business with someone who is five months pregnant…but turns out, I’m pretty persuasive.

Is there anything that you know now that you would love to share with your 25- year-old self?

Oh – so much. Be patient. Pay your dues. Trust your instincts.

What advice to you have for balancing work with family life and parenting?

It’s incredibly hard. Don’t ever think that success, or building a company, or raising a family is easy work. Those who tell you it is – are lying (or, let’s face it, have millions of dollars to hire loads of help). I started Evoke when I was 5 months pregnant – I made a choice to go “all in” at that time – I knew there would be sacrifices. My advice would be – strive for balance…cherish the little moments – the little successes and, celebrate the successes.

What's next for Evoke? Where do you see the company in 10 years?

I see us expanding globally – and also in the US in working in niche markets, specifically multi-cultural. I feel the company will be poised for incredible growth – we are early adopters of social innovation and I plan to put that early adoption and learning to work for our current – and yet-to-be-clients!

Evoke Graphic 3


What do you love about living and working in Madison?

Madison is amazing. I love the small town / city feel. It’s a beautiful city that is really innovating in the tech space. I’m excited to see how Madison’s business and tech scene continues to grow.

Are there any available positions at Evoke that you would like YPs in Madison to know about? If so, what are you looking for in a candidate?

Yes! We’re always hiring! Honestly the core of what we do is great writing – and a great aesthetic. We’re looking for entry-level talent – and those who have been in PR/Marketing/Social for a few years! Always open to hiring those who fit our culture.

Can you tell us anything that most people don't know about you?

Oh my! Well, because of the markets we’re in – beauty/luxury/cosmetics brands – people often find it surprising that I grew up on a farm in Iowa. Not sure how interesting that is – but I could recite the 4H pledge if need be… ha ha.

 Keep an eye out for big things to come from Ideas that Evoke. Evoke is not just activenin their business, but also in the community. Kelly and her team have been spotted volunteering at Ronald McDonald House and also helped to make June 30th the official Social Media Day in Madison. Don’t forget to visit their social media accounts for clever and informative content that will brighten your day and just might ‘up’ your social media game!


Eating around Downtown Madison in 180 days (or 180 hours if you’re hungrier)

By: Stefan Fletcher “Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”

                                                                                                                                    ~ Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s quote is probably averse to the more health-conscious of you but would accurately describe my plan of attack when it comes to food. Since I arrived in Madison earlier this year, I’ve had the pleasure of eating numerous culinary delicacies around town, namely out of necessity due to my struggles with cooking food more complex than scrambled eggs and toast (Impressive, I know.)

Below are my top five eateries around town for YPs to indulge in with partners, friends, and other random individuals should that should appeal to you:

  • L ’Etoile

A staple eaterie by the capital square for big spenders and those with a penchant for fine dining. If you’re looking to close an important business deal over dinner or just have a hankering to look at the capital while enjoying your halibut, this is the place for you. The new restaurant Estrellon, also run by executive chef Tory Miller, is another good pick if you prefer a broader range of pricing, plate sizes, and desert (The Basque Cake is an absolute showstopper - they should be selling this stuff commercially)

  • Pig in a Fur Coat

Small plates and sharing?

Typically I would rather eat my napkin before sharing a bit of steak with anyone, but this trend in dining has become inordinately popular around the country and Pig in a Fur Coat does it very well indeed. My mum came here a few weeks ago from the UK and declared the duck fat fries, the best chips she’s ever eaten, which is saying something hailing from a country whose cuisine is often boiled down to the omnipresent fish and chips.

  • Sardine

While dinner is good, brunch at Sardines is absolutely brilliant. Look out over Lake Monona while enjoying Belgian Waffles and a Mimosa may make you think you’re in Brussels itself (until you see someone ice fishing). Service is prompt and polite and the half-priced oysters during the cleverly titled ‘Oyster Happy Hour’ are definitely worth checking out after work.

  • Tempest

Speaking of seafood, there’s probably no better place in Madison I’ve been to than Tempest. The fish is fresh, the cocktails are solid and the live music on a Friday and Saturday is presented in front of a tastefully decorated sea shell. Get a lobster roll for an affordable, filling take on a New England classic.

  • Tornado Steakhouse

One of the first places I ate in Madison is still one of my favorites. Old-school supper club by evening, trendy downstairs bar by night, late night food on the bar menu is among the best in the city, with the steak sandwich a great midnight snack. A good choice for those of you looking for either a fantastic ‘classy date’ restaurant or, like me, the rare eatery that offers Yorkshire Puddings.

This is just a small sampling of the sumptuous scofferies around Madison, a city full of fresh ingredients and new eating experiences. Feel free to judge my choices and my dietary plan, or lack thereof, accordingly.

So, go out there and enjoy while keeping in mind this important piece of advice:

Everything in moderation, including moderation.” ~Julia Childs

Board Games for Grown Ups

By: Brad Grzesiak

In addition to "reading for leisure," one of the activities I rediscovered after college was playing board games with friends. No, I don't mean Monopoly or Candy Land... there exists a whole swath of board games intended for the adult mind, which is more analytical than that of our youths and has a distinctly different capacity for enjoyment. Whereas our 8-year-old minds might have been completely satisfied with the "tactics" of the card game War, our more mature brains often crave more. What follows is a list of games I've found to appeal to a wide array of individuals:

Settlers of Catan

Quite possibly the most famous adult game in the last decade, Settlers of Catan has, by far, been the most successful of the types of games I'll cover. It's made such a name for itself that The Wall Street Journal covered how Green Bay Packer starting tackle, David Bakhtiari, got a good chunk of the team hooked. While it definitely encourages strategic play, it also requires a bit of luck and diplomacy. In a sense, it's a bit like Monopoly, except for how a game of Catan always feels like it's progressing rather than stagnating (games last 45-90 minutes)... oh, and the players usually don't end up hating each other by the end. It's won so many awards, I won't bother listing them here. "Settlers" requires at least 3 players, which makes it a great casual double-date activity, especially when accompanied by a bottle of wine or two!


Named after a beautiful region in south France, Carcassonne features a gameplay-surface-building aspect similar to dominos while forcing players to manage the scarcity of their point-earning game pieces, affectionately called "meeples." There are four ways to earn points in the game, and three of them offer opportunities for opponents to swoop in and split or even steal points away. The game typically ends after 30 minutes after all the tiles, which are placed once per turn, are exhausted. Make sure to play on a big smooth table... the board can dynamically expand in any direction.


This 2-person-only card game seems straightforward, but it's balanced well enough that no one strategy can effectively always win. The basic idea of jaipur is to take turns either building your hand or laying down cards to earn points. The beginner's instinct is to hoard cards until a big play can be made, but the rules reward those who play early at the expense of their opponent. I pride myself as being a reasonably good game player, yet this is just one of those games I simply cannot "figure out." That makes it great for anyone feeling tentative about their abilities. An added bonus is that games are played best-of-three, so falling way behind in one game still affords you the opportunity to win overall.

Ticket to Ride

Who doesn't wanna pretend to be Cornelius Vanderbilt? Oh, um... never mind. Bad question. Ticket to Ride lets you compete against your friends to be the biggest railroad magnate in the US (or Germany, or Switzerland, or the Nordic countries, or... well, there are a bunch of expansions available). Players randomly select "tickets" that represent city-to-city routes that they must complete during the game. The larger the distance between cities, the more points you earn. Watch out, though. If you're too ambitious and don't complete your routes by the end of the game, you actually get penalized that number of points, reminiscent of those horrible standardized tests of high school.

Meet a Member: Barret Van Sicklen

barretName: Barret Van Sicklen

Years in Magnet: (Not sure  how long I have been a member – I know it has been off and on for a long time)

Position: Board Member


1. What is your favorite thing about being part of Magnet?

Magnet is great because it brings together like-minded young professionals to connect and collaborate.  I truly believe that Magnet helps make Madison a better place to live -- and we have fun doing it!

2. What do you as a career? What is your favorite part about it?

I am an attorney at DeWitt Ross & Stevens.  In addition to the people (DeWitt is a fantastic place to work), I enjoy helping people and/or businesses with their problems.  Because of the type of law I practice – litigation and labor/employment – I typically work with clients that are either in litigation, or on the verge of being in litigation.  That can be stressful; especially for those that have never been involved with court proceedings before.  Therefore, being able to work with them during this stressful time and find solutions to their problems brings me great satisfaction.

3. What do you do when you’re not working or hanging out with other Magnet members?

When not at the office, I love spending time with my wife (and best friend) Kelly, our wild and crazy toddler Owen, and our energetic dog Murphy.  I also enjoy playing/coaching soccer and cheering on the Badger basketball and football teams.

4. Tell us something about yourself that most people probably don’t know.

That I am a reality television junkie.  It is borderline embarrassing; I think I enjoy them because they are typically so stupid that, after a day spent using my brain, I can turn my brain off while watching them.

Also, I was born in San Francisco

5. What is a goal (personal/professional) you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?

Professionally: I think it would be amazing to argue in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Personally: If I am shooting for the moon, I think it would be awesome to purchase a fixer-upper cabin on a lake within driving distance of Madison.

6. Money aside, what is your dream job? 

Professional Traveler.  I looked it up, and apparently this exists -- getting paid to travel!

Help us Avoid the Mid-Year Slump!

By: Corinn Ploessl We’re halfway through 2015 (That flew by, right!?) and Magnet’s Board of Directors and committees are hard at work planning what’s coming next. The first 6 months of this year brought us many successful events: YPWeek Wisconsin, our first book review (and a second, and now a series!,) a Community Connection with Habitat Young Professionals of Madison, a Madison Eats Food Tour and our 9th annual golf outing. We want to keep the momentum going and avoid any break in the awesomeness!

Despite the amazing programs that have come and gone, I know there are still many of you we haven’t connected with yet! We want to see your new faces amongst the familiar ones. Therefore, we want to take a moment to ask you all: Is there something you want to see Magnet host, a speaker you’re dying to hear from, a skill you’d like to learn more about, or a new venue you’re dying to get to? We want to hear from you! We always appreciate it when our members get involved and make suggestions. We want you to own your membership – you get out of Magnet what you put into it.

Tell us what you want to see happen in the second half of 2015 by emailing We’re happy to hear from you and look forward to keeping our events fresh and innovative!

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opt for the safe suit choice as well, or do you ever mix it up?

In addition, what to wear to work has become more fluid than ever, and more sartorial choices have become acceptable. For example, where I work, almost anything goes if you’re not in the sales department. That means in the art department everyone wears jeans every day. But for those who meet with clients outside of the office, or for editors who have interviews, it’s standard to dress up in business casual or formal ensembles.

Here’s what I generally follow:

If you’re in doubt, don’t wear it. Why? Normally your first gut-check reaction to a look is the best one. Not sure if that skirt is too tight or short? I’d advise against it. Same with if something’s too casual. Better to opt formal than casual.

You can still have fun with your look. In a business corporate environment, the definition of “having fun with your look” is a bit narrower. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t inject personality into a look. Women might opt for a snake-print flat or heel with an all-black suit. Or pair a khaki linen jacket with black pants, or add a fun belt to a jacket instead of buttoning it. Guys can get that fun polka-dotted tie, or mix up a jacket and pant.

Fashion rules are much more relaxed than they are in the past. I wrote a blog about this recently—the idea that being a little imperfect is OK. The rule about white and Labor Day? Over it. Wearing black and brown together? It’s OK—in the right outfit. Even mixing prints can is hot right now! I always encourage people to make their personal stamp on a look—within the confines of your office’s dress code.

Your clothes do make an impression of what people think of you—whether you like it or not. Or to invoke the oft-repeated phrase,

“you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Of course in a job interview this is crucial. What do you want to convey to the interviewer? If you’re looking in a creative field, express yourself in your clothing! In a corporate environment, make sure you check with others who work in the field to see what’s standard. If you already have a job, what do you want your boss or coworkers to think of you and what you wear? It’s easy to let go after you have a job, but doing that isn’t always a wise idea, especially if you work in a corporate environment where a promotion could be around the corner.

I always recommend wearing a statement piece every day—it expresses who you are and provides a conversation piece. You’d be surprised how many positive comments

I get from both sexes on the shoes I wear or accessories I sport—people like uniqueness, and it’s good to be remembered.

Rarely, if ever, does anyone get their dream job in sweatpants—so step it up!

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to look great. If you don’t have a job yet there are ways to still cobble together an impressive look for less. I always search consignment and vintage shops for one-of-a-kind, extremely affordable pieces. People never believe it when I tell them something’s from a consignment shop! Stores like Target, New York & Company, H&M, The Limited and department stores are other reliable places to pick up affordable workwear. Many of them have one-day specials (like New York & Company) and coupons (The Limited, department stores) that make it even easier to find something you love.

Also: never doubt the ability to wear the same thing in several ways. I once had a friend tell me she’s never seen me wear the same thing twice—which couldn’t be further from the truth! I just find ways to wear my go-to wardrobe pieces (skirts, dress pants, shoes) in fun and different ways all of the time. And really, does anyone remember what you wore to the office last week anyway? So make ’em think you’ve got a to-die-for wardrobe—even if you’re just mixing it up.

Got a workwear or wardrobe dilemma? Email me at!