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Never Stop Learning

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs conference which was held in Chicago. This was my fourth year attending the conference and it’s a great event, besides the fact that I’m black and an entrepreneur there’s numerous reasons why attending a conference like this one is extremely beneficial. The connections made with other entrepreneurs and professionals, the professional development, and the opportunity to charge your batteries and be inspired by other individuals who are in the trenches like yourself is priceless, and all of these benefits can help you generate more revenue.   Any entrepreneur with common sense understands the importance of building their professional network because after all you network is going to determine your net worth. A conference such as this is networking on steroids thousands of professionals who you have a chance to meet face to face have in depth conversations and discover synergies. If you attempted to meet the same amount of professionals on your own it would take a lifetime at a conference you can accomplish this in a few days. In addition you can make higher level connections that would be difficult to make otherwise. I’ve met and made serious connections with C-Suite executives that have dramatically changed the trajectory of our business at conferences. These are individuals that if I cold called them, or emailed I would never get through.  I’ve also met other professionals who’ve become great partners enhancing the services we’re able to offer to customers, and on a personal level I’ve met a lot of good people who’ve become good friends.

Entrepreneurs are like teenagers; exuberant, enthusiastic, willing to take chances, and think they know everything.  In actuality we don’t and you need to have a commitment to professional development that will allow you to grow and take your business to the next level.  At Highbrid we have that commitment and its evident by the in house workshops that we run every Monday but again it would take a million Mondays and a million workshops to duplicate the level of professional development afforded to you by attending the sessions, panel discussions, and workshops a conference has to offer over the course of a few days. These panel discussions and workshops can provide invaluable information that you otherwise would have never known, such as ways to secure financing, how to use technology to enhance your business, how to franchise your business, building an exit plan to sell your business. You can also discover emerging trends and technology in business that you’ll be able to add making a difference in your bottom line.  For me as a principal of Highbrid it’s important that I bring these findings and  newly learned approaches share them with my staff and  begin implementing those they make sense for the growth of the company.  Highbrid has been able to develop proven strategies through information we learned by taking professional development seriously, part of that is attending conferences.

Depending on the size of a particular conference or trade show you can have upwards of 10,000+ participants including vendors, sponsors, and event staff, you have the opportunity to meet all types of people. If it’s a gathering of professionals in your industry or in this case other business owners it can be a very invigorating, and inspiring to meet some of these people. In your professional life at times you get very entrenched from day to day can develop tunnel vision to the rest of world and possibilities around it so it’s great to be able to meet different professionals from different parts of the country or globe. Typically they’re dealing with some of the same issues as you and could help provide insight on how to approach these issues.

Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs conference is one of several events that Highbrid Media’s staff attends throughout the year including Ad Week NY, B.E. Golf and Tennis Challenge, CETW conference for Digital Signage professionals and other conferences, trade shows and events. The connections made, professional development attained, and some of the great personalities we’ve had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by has been more than worth the time and resources and has had a direct positive impact on our bottom line.

Daniel Gutzmore Comment

conferences, BlACK Enterprise, Professional Development, HIGHBRID MEDIA, Adweek


Do You have a card

Conferences/Networking events are a great way to market your company, especially if you operate in a B2B environment like I do. You get to meet with people in your industry face to face and build rapport with current clients and prospects/partners who can potentially add value to your product or service offerings. It's also more effective and faster than cold calling b/c you potentially have the decision maker in front of you and after a Martini or three they're receptive to the idea of working with you.

Marketing Highbrid Media via these types of events has proven to be a great way to generate new business, and I've been fortunate enough to be asked to be a speaker on panels or in workshops at these events. This is the next level b/c now the event organizers are literally and figuratively putting you on a pedestal which sends a message to other attendees and panelists (your peers) "This individual is an expert in his/her field and he/she is going to share some of their expertise with us today".

I love this type of opportunity not only does it stroke my ego to be on stage, but I get to speak to an entire room full of people as opposed to meeting people one at a time qualifying or disqualifying them as people I'd like to connect with and after the panel is finished you become the hunted as opposed to the hunter. And while it's great to feel wanted, too many times in the course of this interaction do I have the "Do you have a card" moment.

The "Do you have a card" moment is when a conference attendee or someone in the audience comes up to me and asks me "Do you have a card" , no formal introduction or informing me of what it is you or your company does and how we can possibly work together, no common thread or reference to build a comfort level where I actually feel like giving you a card is worth it and often interrupting a conversation that I was having with someone else.

Networking is a skill and if you hone this skill it will pay benefits far beyond what you ever expected. Part of that skill is having the ability to analyze a situation decide what approach you are going to use and executing that approach tactfully and respectfully. Don't perpetuate  the "Do you have a card" moment. Why should anyone give you a card and you haven't even stated your name. In Asian business culture the exchange of cards or contact information is held in very high regard. Cards are exchanged using two hands and a slight bow then you read the entire card back and front and hold onto it while in the persons presence before  putting it in your shirt or jacket pocket. If you're sitting at a table you place the cards in front of you and have them in order from leader to subordinates.

Your network is going to determine your net worth, so why not make sure the people in your network are people that you can actually do business with or at least connect on some similar business level. How does one go about doing so? By Qualifying! In the initial conversation discuss what intriguied you to approach this individual, is it something they said is it a common thread of a shared client/colleague is it a genuine business opportunity. Whatever it is using this to create dialogue and build a rapport is much more effective in making a serious connection. Do you have a card should probably be one of the last things you ask, not the first.


Daniel Gutzmore Comment

Media, Business Card, Events, Networking, rapport, Marketing, Chamber of Commerce, conferences, Advertising, B2B


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