Last month, I attended the WBENC National Conference and Business Fair in Detroit, Michigan with 4500 other business owners, student entrepreneurs, representatives from multinational corporations, diverse business organizations, and supporters of women in business. I attended with and on behalf of my clients who networked, shared knowledge, built and strengthened relationships with potential corporate clients. They had productive matchmaker meetings (an average of 3 each) and the key now is follow up, follow up, follow up.

 In addition to making business connections, I  filled pages in my notebook from panels and workshops but I will synthesize the key takeaways  (which link up to the numbered photos):

  1. It’s not too early to think about next year’s conferences. The Summit and Salute will take place March 11-13, 2019 in Houston, TX and the WBENC National Conference is coming back to Baltimore MD June 25-27, 2019. The Host Council, pictured above, of primarily Michigan based WBEs did a great job of introducing us to what Detroit had to offer. Since next year’s conference is in Baltimore, MD those of us who are local will get the opportunity to welcome business owners to our area and we have a whole year to prepare. I look forward to working with next year’s Host Council to welcome WBEs and prepare them for a productive conference.
  2. Get grants to go global. Trade Minister Champagne of Canada spoke at this year’s conference, which had the most international participation yet thanks to WEConnect International and the Government of Canada’s support. Many U.S. Business owners didn’t realize that they can participate in international conferences with grants from their states through the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program. Follow the link and find out what resources are available in your State to help you succeed in the international marketplace.
  3. Don’t know? Ask a WBE. My client, Esther Poulsen, at Raare Solutions gave a great breakfast talk for a select audience on “Five Ways You’re Wasting Money on your CRM” and it reminded me what a great resource we have in our fellow women business owners. Esther is an expert in all things Contact Relationship Management (CRM) and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her to someone who wants to make the most of theirs. Not only were the seasoned entrepreneurs impressive but I was blown away by the student entrepreneurs as well. Their willingness to learn and teach was inspiring. One thing everyone always says about these conferences is that the energy in the room is unlike that of any other conference – and they’re right. Not only are successful women building their businesses through new sales and relationships but they’re helping other people grow as well.

The last picture is a screenshot of a video I took of Detroit’s people mover, a highlight for my kids to watch while I was away. It’s just a little reminder to myself to enjoy the place I’m in while I’m there. I hope you’re enjoying where you are now (and marking your calendar with those upcoming dates!)