021: Creating the brand of YOU, with Steve Kohlmann

About Steve Kohlmann

Steve Kohlman is the Executive Director for the Independent Business Association of Wisconsin and Supervisor for the Town of Brookfield. He sits on the Tax Assessment Board of Review for the Town of Brookfield and is a member of the Board of the Community Development Authority overseeing the $200 million Corners Project in Waukesha County

Steve also sat as a former sales and marketing practitioner for Heritage Printing in Brookfield.


What is IBAW?

·         “The IBAW is a boutique business group with about 140 members that covers three areas. Firstly, business programming, second peer-to-peer networking, and third political advocacy for small businesses.”

What keeps you inspired and going?

·         “Well, my parents came from Europe in 52 and they came with nothing and that’s my inspiration. They gave us a good work ethic and we carry that on in our family!

How do you know that what you’re doing is going in the right direction?

·         “I sometimes get these ah-ha moments where suddenly something happens and you just know things are going in the right direction!”


Share with us one of your best networking stories

·         “I had one this past week and it was also one of those ah-ha moments. I met this guy at a MMAC meeting and he had just started his own business. He decided to theme his package after a motorsports theme and we ended up hitting it off. Later on, we had an event at Lakeview Technical Community where this guy ended up meeting a political representative that helped him immensely.”


How do you stay in front of your network or community?

·         “You have to get out and meet people. Go to different events at different times of the day.”


What advice do you have for business professionals looking to grow their networks?

·         “You’ve got to get out there. The other thing that’s important is you have to kind of create a brand that’s separate from your business.”


Digital networking or traditional networking?

·         “It’s got to be a blend of both, you can’t put all your eggs in one basket; that just doesn’t work.”


If you could go back 20 years, what would you tell yourself to do more or less of regarding your career?

·         “I would have said to start networking a lot sooner. My boss in printing said you should hook up with this networking group, go check it out. Everyone there was way smarter than me, they were all business owners and captains of industry and I though ‘I’ve got no reason to be here.’ My boss encouraged me to keep going and that’s how I got to where I am today.”


Who would you love to connect with and do you think you could do it within 6 degrees?

·         “I would really like to connect with George W. Bush. I don’t know how I would connect with him but I did meet his father previously.”


What book are you reading right now?

·         “I’m not a big reader personally but right now I’m working through a book called ‘The Right Kind of Crazy” by Adam Steltzner which is a really cool story about how he used to be a dude in a band before he was a rocket scientist!”


Any final words of advice for our listeners??

·         “It’s all marketing, I would really encourage the people listening to develop their own personal brand. One of the best things you can do is hire a professional photographer to get some really good pictures of yourself.”


You can get in contact with Steve at:


Through the IBAW website, IBAW.com