By Tunisha W. Walker, Senior Vice President of Capalino+Company
Last week I joined hundreds of minority business owners from around the country in Houston, for the 22nd annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit.
The four day summit, May 17-22, is one of the nation’s largest gatherings of minority small business owners and entrepreneurs. The event features a series of leadership sessions, panels and roundtable discussions hosted by top executives and representatives from government. The summit’s programming encourages conversation around topics of importance to the MBE community, including growth strategies and best practices.
Here are a few takeaways from the event:
1. Attend Events and Conferences
MWBE’s can learn a lot from each other, attending conferences and expos fosters networking and sharing insights. The panels and workshops provide opportunities to hear from experts and gain insights from their experiences.
Some events are better than others, so make sure to do your diligence and research before booking your tickets. Attend the events that align with your objectives and allow you to expand your network. Create a plan with specific goals – what do you want to get out of the event? Who do you want to meet? What topics to you want to learn more about? Your time is money, so select opportunities that deliver the most value for you and your business.
2. Networking is Key
Networking is an essential skill for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business. Attending professional events and local meetups are a powerful way to identify and develop new business opportunities, learn from the success of others, and spread the word about your company.
Federal and local government agencies regularly host government procurement conferences and workshops, which is a great opportunity to network with government officials and procurement officers, and open up a direct line of communication.
The easiest way to expand your network is to build upon your existing contacts. Your colleagues, friends and family members all have their own networks, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals and introductions.
Always remember to keep your contacts up to date. You never know when you might need to reach out to an old contact!
3. Invest in Marketing
Marketing is critical for building your brand’s reputation, attracting a new audience, and increasing sales. In order to build trust and credibility, and win new business, it’s important to create a memorable and authentic brand.
There are so many ways to use the web to promote your business, but the best value for a young company is social media. Set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to build your community and promote upcoming events, special programs and initiatives. It’s a more personal and engaging way to connect with customers and other stakeholders, which leads to increased sales and positive word of mouth.
4. Embracing Technology is Crucial to Your Success
As a small, maturing business, investments in technology may seem daunting, but in the long run the value of added efficiencies, improved resource management and integration of productivity tools will more than make up for the initial expense. Leveraging technologies across your business, from operations to marketing and business development will allow you to focus on other, more important tasks.
One great example is Capalino+Company’s revolutionary new app MWBE Connect NY which minority and women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs are using to access billions of dollars of government contracts in the palm of your hand. The revolutionary bid matching technology automatically matches you with procurement opportunities that actually line up with your business skills.
Growing a new business can be challenge, especially if you’re a woman or minority business owner. The Black Enterprise Summit was a strong reminder that there are plenty of resources to take advantage of to help you succeed. Learn more about the conference here: http://www.blackenterprise.com/events/entrepreneurs-summit/
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