Check out icebreaker.video for a light way to introduce group members one on one. The focus starts in a group text chat with only the moderators on video. Then you get sent to a room with one other person on video with a few ice breaker prompts to keep you going. It felt a lot less heavy compared to breakout rooms on Zoom. Rumor has it that they may give your group free access if you ask nicely.
theonline.town is a Mario looking online room where you can walk up to different groups of people to chat. The tech is a bit weird. It's not ideal for a small group. We did it with a group of 15 and it was sort of fun. You move your little character around a virtual room and can walk up too groups of people like you would at an event. Whoever you are near will then pop up on video. It's totally free at the moment.
Facebook launched a feature called "rooms" that is a cross between Zoom and Houseparty. You can create a room for you and a select group of friends. It sends them each a link via Facebook Messenger. They can come or go as they please. I loved it. I invited 13 of my good friends one night when I was feeling bored. I had 4 of them join and we had a blast. It's a lot less rigid then Zoom and feels serendipitous.
OneTable empowers people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable, and valuable.
"OneTable brings Shabbat to people in their 20s and 30s of all backgrounds. We believe that taking a step back, connecting with others, having moments of mindfulness, and enjoying great meals on a Friday night is important."
OneTable has supported me and my dinner hosting since they first Launched in Chicago a few years back. They help empower hosts like me with resources to bring my communities together over an intimate Shabbat dinner.
The photo is of a group I hosted for an open OneTable dinner that took place at Next Door Cafe (read my recommendation below).
The website doesn't do justice for the incredible community the owners have developed
When I went to the launch night of Second Shift (pictured), I felt like I belonged. It was rare for me to meet other professionals who I felt got my style of entrepreneurship. The people are ambitious and hardworking yet know how to live a little and make new friends. I have always felt welcomed there despite not being an official member.
One of the owners of this space also runs Deskpass that allows you to have a subscription through them to various coworking spaces in Chicago and in other key cities. For example, you could be in 20 different spaces in the course of one month depending on what area you want to work out of that day.
This place changed my life! I met some of the greatest people here. They have teachers offering free classes 4-5 days a week totally free in the areas of personal development and entrepreneurship. They also have epic free financial coaching which is how I actually have kick butt credit now! YAY ME! I met Jonathan Pritchard there many years ago and he was the one who introduced me to the Chicago Magic Lounge! It's also a really safe place to meet new people. People come to learn a variety of things from a variety of backgrounds. I have gained a wealth of education as a result. Thanks, parent company State Farm!
Work with a group like something along the lines of ChiTribe? Use their space to have your meetings. Their conference rooms are totally free. Just make sure to reserve ahead of time. Another option is checking to see if their coaching cubes are open. We have had quite a few meetings there and love it!
Event production including: Photobooths, DJs, Lighting Decor, and MORE!
Ewa and Yoni have been such a blessing to the city of Chicago after moving themselves and their events skills from the Bay Area to here. If only you saw how hard they worked bringing endless amounts of equipment to transform any room go from DRAB to FAB!
I have been to numerous events they produced and have been blown away what just two people can accomplish. They recently supported me on 3 different events. I had no idea what to ask for or what I needed. But with their level of expertise, they were able to solve problems I didn't know I needed solving and were beyond prepared for any last-minute things that could come up during the events themselves. Who knew that the glare from a TV screen in our venue would affect the filming of my event? Ewa had the perfect black sheet ready to go to solve this exact problem. Never would I have known about any of this. Needless to say, the guests were left wowed with all the lights and beyond. Simply stated, they turned a community room into a Broadway theater.
Strikingly brings beautiful mobile websites to everyone.
I use it to make this and the website that you are on. It was a simple plug and play format. It took me less than an hour to have something ready to go. There were no headaches to navigate to building my website. The customer service is friendly and efficient. I should add, 4 months of full features free with a university ID.
An amazing online community of kick butt entrepreneurial women
I found this community randomly while searching around online and discovered a killer Facebook group with all the most amazing woman working for themselves all around Chicago. I could learn from all their challenges. I also was able to read about these women online making it even cooler when we crossed paths around Chicago. It has been a huge door opener for me. Keep an eye out for their amazing free events too!
"We are a group of tech women in business and business women in tech. October 2010, we began as a private, invitation-only Facebook group with eight women, and the intention on offering a different space – one that encouraged others to speak up and help other women rather than stand by and solely promote our own work. By answering and helping others in a forum, we showcase our skills, expertise and all while helping another woman overcome a hurdle in her way."
Be a model for free or low cost professional hair services
During high school, a close friend of mine was going through beauty school and was always looking for new opportunities to try things on my hair. I never had to go to a hair salon. I loved being a model for her to practice on.
Since then, I had always loved being the person stylist can try stuff out on. I generally find that no matter how much or how little I pay a salon, it's an equal gamble whether I get a good haircut every time I go get my hair done. So why not get my hair done with a student or a stylist who wants to try out new skills? It's a win-win for both of us. I get a low-cost high-quality hair cut because the student is trying 10x harder to get it right and has a teacher coaching them through everything so no matter what, I would leave with a good hairstyle. The stylist gets a person that they can try stuff out on without worrying about losing a customer and without them having to buy dummy heads to practice on.
So if you have bought into this whole philosophy, go to this website and look in your city for students who are looking for hair models. They may not always be looking for the haircut you want. Sometimes they ask for people to get a bob haircut and sometimes it a specific kind of color treatment. Reach out to folks. They generally take place on Mondays during the day.