Recap: 2017 Black Alumni Networking Expo

Engage, Educate, Implement & Collaborate were the four key components of success for the 2017 Black Alumni Networking Expo. With over 1300 guests, sponsors and vendors in attendance the event was not one to miss. Attendees received valuable insight from leading experts and influencers on topics including, business development, careers in media, health and wellness tips, and heard from speakers who played integral roles during the Obama Administration. A few members of the BBNE team had the privilege of attending the Black Alumni Networking Expo weekend of events and put together key points and quotes from attended sessions. 

The weekend kicked off with the B.L.A.C.K Panel discussion and dinner where panelist covered topics such as entrepreneurship, mentorship, following your destiny and mental health.  Panelists also touched on the need for black enterprises to work together. 

“The partnership that is missing is the one between the black entrepreneur and the black consumer”. - Kezia Williams, The Black upstart. 

The discussion at the B.L.A.C.K Panel and Dinner left audience members with the following takeaways 

  • Don't take no for answer. Make some noise.
  • Take rejections and turn them into an opportunity.
  • Use your day job and inspiration and turn into an opportunity.
  • You don't have to go at it alone. Get help.

The Black Alumni Networking Expo continued on Saturday with noteworthy workshops and seminaries given by experts in various fields.  Walter Ward III, the founder of the Mobile Business School, provided attendees with the tools to build a business from scratch and focused on the importance of learning how to do what you love. 

“Believe it or not a lot of executives grew up in a pipeline of thinking. They don’t know how the rest of business work, they know how their portion works, but they don’t know how the enterprise works.  Which causes a problem for a lot of executives because as they are moving up they can’t go beyond a certain level because they don’t have an enterprise view,” – Ward said. 

The Mobile Business School provides a "pop-up" MBA experience, for entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and creative professionals.From the session, attendees learned about the 3 core components of building a business; the customer, the narrative, and the numbers walking away with valuable tips and advice to continue to do what they love. 

With the rise of technology, BAN Expo offered A Career in Tech Panel Discussion to discuss trends in the tech industry, shared economies, entry barriers, being a tech entrepreneur, and career advice that reflected the audience's interests.  

The key focus of this year’s BAN Expo encouraged guests, vendors, and panelist to effectively create opportunities and collaborations within our community. The event brought together not just HBCU alumni but alumni who attended PWI's to create better partnerships for our businesses to succeed. For more information about the BAN Expo visit www.banexpo.org.  Continue to follow our social feeds this month as we will be highlighting many of the businesses who were in attendance.

Monthly Nuggets: Marketing Professional and Author, Lori Flowers

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Meet Lori

"Being an effective woman in business is something that is achievable, but takes a little time and consistent dedication."

Lori Flowers is a radio marketing professional with close to twenty years of experience; and Author of "A Seat at the Table: A Survival Guide for Women in Business," Lori prides herself on motivating women in business to be their best.  She resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband OJ.  

Lori Flowers is a radio marketing professional with close to twenty years of experience. Flowers is the Author of "A Seat at the Table: A Survival Guide for Women in Business," Lori prides herself on motivating women in business to be their best.  She resides in Atlanta, GA with her husband OJ.  

Visit www.loriflowers.com

Marketing Professional and Author, Lori Flowers Shares 5 Tips on How to Be An Effective Woman in Business

Being an effective woman in business is something that is achievable, but takes a little time and consistent dedication. Believe it or not, it is the little things that can make or break you in business.

Here are 5 tips to be an effective woman in business:

Every effective woman in business communicates well. Communication is key in all forms. This includes in person, email and phone. 

In person, you literally want to put your best face forward. Be approachable, smile and extend a strong handshake. If during your face-to- face meeting you have been tasked with something, make sure that you write it down and follow up with the person.

Via email, make sure that you are getting back to people within 24 hours.  Even if you do not know the answer, reply back and let them know that you are working on it. Remember that it is hard to read the tone of an email, so make sure that you are upbeat and pleasant in your correspondence.  

On the phone, make sure that when you are conducting business that you are smiling. People can sense a smile over the phone.  Also, just like all of the other forms of communication, make sure that you follow through on what was discussed.

Every effective woman in business has a positive image.

An image is everything so be sure you are putting your best foot forward.  This includes their clothing, hair, makeup, and nails. The old adage of “Dress for the job you want” is still relevant and as a woman in business (any form of business), you need to take heed to this.

Every effective woman in business has an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a 10-15 second pitch all about you. Whether you work for a corporation or own your business, you need to have a solid pitch that you can share with anyone you meet.  

The elevator pitch consists of:

  1. Your intro - Hello my name is___________ and I attend/or work______________________.
  2. What do you hope to do - In my current situation, I hope to be able to______________________________ and then advance to _______________.
  3. How can they help you?  It is my hope that we can__________________________________.  

Write out your elevator pitch and memorize it.  Make sure to practice it in the mirror.  After all, you never know who you will be in the elevator with next.    Be ready!

Every effective woman in business is a networker. Networking is extremely important as networks provide you those opportunities that you may not be privy to if you were not in that network. 

When attending a networking event, it is best to work the room and stay away from the people you came with. I mean, after all, you know them already. Once you connect with someone and get their card, it is always good to pull something personal about them from the conversation.  This little tidbit of information is what you will follow up with them on. For example, you meet Mary who is a VP at a major corporation. She just moved to the city and loves gardening. After you meet her at the networking event, follow up within 2-3 days.  In your follow up, send her a link to some great restaurants in the city and maybe even suggest a local nursery where she can look at purchasing plants for her garden. This is the start to organically building a relationship. Then, if you happen to need her for a recommendation or even consideration for a job opportunity within her company, she knows who you are and may even consider you.  

Every effective woman in business knows her industry and is always learning. She reads leadership development books frequently and knows the ins and outs of her industry or the industry she hopes to get into. 

One way that she grows and keeps learning is to seek out job descriptions of possible positions she would like to be in. If there is anything in that description she is not able to do, she learns how to do it. This keeps her learning and growing.

Women in business are constantly evolving. While these are only five tips, they can still make a difference. Be consistent and intentional about your professional growth and you will continue to rise to the top!

 

 

 

 

 

The Reason Why Your Company Website is Better Than Your Social Media Page

Websites today connect us to the world on a local and international level. Your company website is a tool for engaging potential clients, connecting with contributors, and a tool used to identify talent. Having a website is key because we can not solely rely on social media accounts to spread messages and here is why. With recent social media hacks, especially affecting Facebook users, businesses using it face the risk of potentially being hacked. Facebook business and group pages are automatically connected to one's personal account. Unlike LinkedIn, the businesses pages do not stand alone to engage new clients and audiences.  Nearly two in three U.S. adults with personal social media profiles believe they’ve been hacked, according to a 2016 survey by the Harris Poll. IF social media profiles are being hacked, you can only imagine the toll it takes to get those business pages back. This is one reason why a website is so valuable to anyone's business. 

Creating a separate website reduces the risk of losing your content on a digital platform. There are several tools to get your business online but there are key tools and techniques to getting it set up to reach your business goals.  BBNE provides services with your company in mind. We have the knowledge, time and capabilities to design a site that meets your business where it is and where it has the potential to go. From copywriting, photo selection to project management and custom design we've built a team that is ready to help shape your company's brand.  Social media will continue to be a component of your business (given the right security measures) but let's start with the most valuable form of communicating your brand with a reputable website.

Monthly Nuggets: Founders of Modish Moms

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Meet Modish Moms
Courtney & Ciarra

"Being a mom is a job that you can clock in for, but never clock out for. It is important to support these women because we are the future."

Modish Moms is a DC based 501c3 nonprofit organization created for millennial mothers in pursuit of a better lifestyle, career and parenting opportunities. We provide information, support and resources for mothers balancing the many trials and triumphs of motherhood. 

Founders of "Modish Moms" Speak On The Balancing Act of Motherhood & Entrepreneurship

What are some unknown challenges mom's may face when in pursuit of entrepreneurship?

"Mompreneurs" face the challenges of balance, support and staying encouraged. It is important for aspiring mompreneurs to find the balance between motherhood, lifestyle and career. We have to make daily sacrifices that some women entrepreneurs may not have to make, because we have another person depending on us. Being a mom is a job that you can clock in for, but never clock out for. It is important to support these women because we are the future. That's what Modish Moms is all about. Supporting women who are, as Beyonce says, "strong enough to bare the children and get back to business".

What advice do you give to mom's who are building their own empires?

  1. Your business is your baby. Take care of it as such.
  2. Don't be afraid of the word "No." Not everyone is going to understand or support you, but that doesn't mean it can't be done! Keep pressing on!
  3. Connect with other mompreneurs. We are all in this together. There is a seat at the table for all of us.
  4. Seek Mentorship.
  5. Make sure you do all the legal paperwork FIRST: LLC, 501c3, Trademark, etc.
  6. If you need a team or help, don't be afraid to ask. Everyone needs a hand sometimes.
  7. Take care of yourself. You can't pour from an empty glass.

How can mom's balance their business pursuits with their day-to-day motherhood responsibilities?

Balance is difficult but doable. Find kid-friendly business opportunities. We attend all Mommy and Me events, because you never know who you are going to meet. Also, think of some things you like to do with your little ones and host your own events. For example, have a mommy movie night where you connect with other aspiring mompreneurs while the children enjoy a movie. Host events or meetings that are kid appropriate yet motivating for mompreneurs. You can also find balance by working when the kids are resting. Nap-time is an ideal time for moms to get work done. Mothers are selfless and are always working, whether its parenting or providing. Find time to say "thank you" to yourself for being the best mom while remaining true to yourself and reaching your goals. 

What business and support resources are available to "mompreneurs"?

Well, Modish Moms is definitely a resource! We love supporting and connecting with moms. We felt like there was no support for the millennial moms that want to get out there and change the world. To us, in this society, Modish Moms was necessary. Our goal is to create a community of mothers that support and empower one another in all walks of life. We will reach mother's and their supporters through community outreach and events. We want to inspire and empower young modern moms to explore life as a mother, all while achieving personal goals. We strive to provide unity and appreciation to all moms while recognizing their need for support. We plan to collaborate with other modish moms to create a conglomerate of mothers who vow to be the best mom they can be while remaining true to themselves. We also suggest connecting with organizations such as:

  • BlackGirlsDo: Celebrating black women through action and activities that foster sisterhood
  • M.A.R.C.H.H (Making Awareness Reach Challenging Hearts and Homes): Special needs resources for children and families
  • BlackGirlVision: Crowdfunding meets pitch competition for women of color entrepreneurs
  • EyeCStyleBrand: Connecting entrepreneurs in the DMV  through events and community involvement
  • District Motherhued: Organization for millennial moms of color
  • The Beacon DCAn initiative to make DC the #1 city for women entrepreneurs

Discover Your Brand

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When I first started out as an entrepreneur, I wanted to jump head first into every project that needed my services. I would probably be happier reaching the client's goals before they even knew what their goals were or the basics of working with a public relations professional. Organically I started to introduce clients and potential clients, to what is known as a discovery call or meeting. Some clients didn't even know what 'discovery' meant but quickly learned why it was important for their brand. 

A discovery meeting or call helps us and the client form a meaningful relationship. Clients have the opportunity to share more about their business, background and their personal goals and objectives. All of this information helps us to work effectively. This is also an opportunity for us to learn more about your industry, target audience and competition. These meetings are meant to be open, honest and create a collaborative environment for both parties to share ideas and insights.  It is all about relationship building. During a discovery meeting, it's important, we lay some groundwork for this new relationship.  We learn: 

  • Client communication styles

  • Goals and objectives the client would like to achieve

  • Designated point of contact 

  • Prior marketing successes and failures we can learn from

In a discovery meeting we also set our clients expectations by implementing some simple to do's to ensure we are all on the same accord. We: 

  • Ensure measurable goals are attainable and achievable based on the engagement 

  • Establish check -ins regularly with updates and ideas for the project 

  • Define our roles and responsibilities

  • Create an outline for tasks and deadlines to be met between us and the client 

With these few steps we are off to a successful discovery in defining the purpose of your brand, business or next big idea. 

Be a Smart Event Sponsor

Event marketing is smart marketing. Events allow you to physically see what your clientele looks like in the flesh. You can see what wows your consumers, what sparks their interest and learn about their routines.

Picking events to sponsor should be very strategic. Companies who place the quantity over the quality of events don't end up with the best results. Sponsoring multiple events that don't necessarily fit your company's mission isn't the best way to spread your company's message. The events you select to spend your dollars on should be so selective, that it could almost be an extension of your very own brand.

You may already be an expert at picking the right events for your brand, but in the "event" you need a refresher consider these 7 suggestions before signing that sponsorship check. 

1. Have a new perspective on your spending: Don't become hesitant when it comes to spending dollars on event sponsorships---its a great marketing strategy. However, you must keep your marketing budget in mind. If you look at sponsorships as an investment you'll value the experience more. 

2. Study your audience: Analytics are simply your friend. You can learn so much about the crowds that follow your company on social media. Dedicate time to compare trends in your audience dashboards monthly. Twitter does a great job of showing the interests of your followers as well as background information (education, gender, age and work industries). The more you know about your followers, the better your company will be at selecting the right sponsorships. Also, ask coordinators of the event you want to sponsor, for an audience demographic chart and compare it with your own.

3. Pick a message to convey at an event: You need to be strategic about what role your company will play on-site. It's ineffective to promote too many messages at one time. Prior to the event, it should be decided as to what message you want to push. Is your company launching a new product? Or is your company trying to sell memberships for an outstanding network? Whatever your message is, it should be clear, garner leads and most of all it should be attractive. Events are made to be interactive and entertaining. An exhibit with tons of paper and business cards and no interactive elements won't keep a crowd.

4. Be responsible: As a sponsor, it is also your job to promote the event. It essentially helps your brand and enhances the partnership with the company hosting the event. You should retweet and share posts about the event and create original content to let your followers know where you will be. Cross promotion could boost ticket sales and introduce your brand to new clients. 

5. Have measurable goals: Prior to the event create a list of goals. Having measurable goals will determine how successful the event was for your company and if you would participate again. Examples of measurable goals would be, setting a number of emails you want to collect, or how many products you want to sell, or a number of items to giveaway. 

6. Think about your staff: Your staff is important. They are the ones that sell your company, so you want to make sure they're accommodated. If you are fortunate enough to have multiple team members work at your exhibit during an event, make the shift times for 4 hour periods. More than likely the event you'll sponsor will be after work hours on the weekday or during the weekend. Make your staff feel good about working off the clock. This can be done by providing a stipend for lunch and parking or giving your staff time off the following week. These accommodations should be included in your marketing budget as well. 

7. Request a recap: To further measure your goals you should request an event recap that shows the analytics of the actual event promotion. You'll want to know how many attendees were present, how many purchased tickets, how many ads were placed, and etc. Having these numbers will help determine your ROI and measure the success of the event. Your exhibit may have had all the works, but did the event live up to the initial pitch that made you a sponsor? A recap is important to keep on file, so if you return as a sponsor for another year you can measure the growth of the event with your team. 

 

Best of luck!

Finding Sisterhood Support

In honor of Women's History Month we want to provide resources to female entrepreneurs, so we can continue to make history. The list below provides information for organizations and grants that cater to business women. Find your sisterhood support today.

Black Founders

Black Founders focuses on providing a ecosystem to stimulate tech entrepreneurs and foster economic growth. They support their mission by creating programming like events, HBCU Hackathons, conferences, and funding opportunities.

BlackFemaleFounders

#BFF is a DC based organization with a mission to provide a platform for Black female entrepreneurs. They want to level the playing field by providing awareness, support, and resources.

Bossed Up

DC based Bossed Up has created resources, expert training, and a community for women to take their power back, while keeping it real a bout the unjust system we’re operating in. Check out their next Bootcamp.

Creative Colony

Creative Colony is a co-working space owned by Brand Calling located in Silver Spring. They provide multiple membership options and host monthly entrepreneurship based events.

DC Women's Business Center

DC WBC assists women entrepreneurs in the Washington, DC Capitol region by providing training and consultation to aid in the growth of their business. Services offered include Business Assessment, Counseling, and Procurement.

Hera Hub

Hera Hub is co-working and meeting space for women entrepreneurs. Besides being a co-working space Hera Hub offers many monthly events for entrepreneurs. Check out Hera Hub DC.

InnovateHER Challenge

The InnovateHER Challenge is a annual SBA competition that awards up to $70,000 to entrepreneurs that provide products and services that impact the lives of women and families. Submissions are being accepted until April 29, 2017.

Pipeline Angels (Investors)

Launching in 2011, Pipeline Angels has had more than 200 women graduate form their investing bootcamp. The Pipeline Angel investor network has invested over $2 million in more than 30 companies. Check out their Bootcamp held in DC, Baltimore, and Charlotte or their upcoming Pitch Summits.

MicroMentor

MicroMentor connects small businesses with mentors from around the world. They also have a online platform that matches volunteers with entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits

Walker's Legacy

Founded by Natalie Madeira Cofield Walker's Legacy is a professional collective that promotes career advancement, skill sets and networks of women in business and women entrepreneurs

Monthly Nuggets: Christian Benjamin

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Meet Christian

"Every seed WILL harvest."

Christian Benjamin is a Entrepreneur, Storyteller, and Partner at Story MKTG. Christian, launched his entrepreneurial career with 12.26 Studios after briefly playing for Washington’s AFL team, Tri-Cities Fever. As a creative agency, 12.26 Studios worked with companies and brands such as KitchenCray, YearUp, Women's Venture Fund, Tiny's Tequila, DJ Beauty & The Beatz, Madieu Williams, and Project Sierra Leone. In 2016, Christian teamed up with Micheal Morrow of The Status Brand and merged their businesses to launch Story MKTG.

Insights on Merging with Another Company

Tell us about 12.26 & The Status Brand before deciding to merge.

Well, I started 12.26 as a creative agency that worked on branding, web development and other visual services, but it morphed into more of a marketing agency, that developed campaigns and ads for startups, non-profits and other brands. The story behind 12.26 led our mission statement behind what branding really means.

The Status Brand was an agency based in Philadelphia, that focused on the experiential side of branding - ie. events, individual and in-person experiences with a brand, and social engagement.

What sparked the thought process of merging with another company?

Really, it was realizing how tough it was to grow my own company just using my own expertise and background and then having offices in WeWork, where I got to see lots of startups with multiple leaders, which I envied in a way.

Once Mike Morrow and I connected just as friends, we realized that we had very similar thought processes on the future of the creative and marketing fields and that we had both not been able to jump over certain humps in our businesses - his being the variety of clientele I was able to develop, mine being that scale of brands that he was able to engage.

What was the decision process like? How did you choose to merge with The Status Brand and launch Story MKTG?

First, we felt that we were so married to our own brands that both had such personal meaning to us that we tried to create an over-arching holding company where 12.26 & Status could run on their own. After awhile we decided that we were really stretching ourselves thin, and needed to come together as one entity in order to be most effective.

We came up with a few names, decided on the one that best fit our ethos (Story) and agreed on our approach, aesthetic and offerings, and went full speed ahead.

What has it been like going from being solo to a partnership?

It's very different. One person told me before I started to be careful because a partnership is like a marriage, which (though I'm single lol), I see to be true.

If you are really serious about a 50/50 split with someone, you are really dedicating yourself to his or her best & worst personal traits, work ethic and your finances are tied to that person. Also, your processes in terms of working on a project are likely totally different from his or hers, and you need to make sure you are clear on the best methodology moving forward in every aspect of your business.

What are the top three things entrepreneurs should consider when thinking about merging with another company?

Legal Paperwork. Make sure you have every scenario covered, both good and bad, legally before you start. Sit down with a lawyer and run down the whole gamut, from pay-outs to severance and everything in between.

Responsibilities. Who is doing what? Do you fully trust that person to commit to their tasks, without having to check up on them to make sure they are done?

Trust. How much do you trust your counterpart? It's one thing to like and agree with someone, but remember, your lifestyle is directly tied to another person now - do you trust them to make the right decision, even in tough times? How and why?

Tax Season – 5 Tips for the Self-Employed

It’s that time again. If you are just starting a business for yourself, you want to know the ins and outs of filing self-employment taxes. Having your own business requires a lot of recordkeeping you have to do for tax purposes. Remember those gas receipts you accumulated from making that meeting with a client? Yes. You want to keep those.

Here are a few tips that can make tax time less painful and help you take advantage of some of the tax benefits of working for yourself.  

1. Company Form…. Keep it simple

Schedule C, Sole Proprietorship is the simplest way to file if you are self-employed. Its’ an easy way to go. 

2. Automized Record-keeping

No more old school record-keeping (unless that is something you want to do).  Start using personal finance software like Intuit QuickBooks that synchronizes to your bank accounts. Automatic record-keeping not only saves you time, but it’s less prone to mistakes too. 

3. Charitable contributions can be business expenses

Unfortunately, with the Schedule C, you can’t deduct charitable contributions. However, if you give money to charities in exchange for advertising or other means of service, it’s a business expense. A greater tax benefit is what you want to have. 

4. Know your allowable deductions

You know that website you built, email account you made and domain you purchased? These are allowable deductions. You can deduct expenses you paid to run your business that are both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your industry. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and proper for your trade or business. (IRS.com) 

5. Business mileage… Track It

Keeping records of your business mileage does add up and is needed for your records to deduct vehicle expenses. Expenses could be gas, oil, or even maintenance. Your records must include mileage driven, the purpose, and the date. You will also want to know your commuter mileage for the year as well.  Miles add up. 

We hope this tax information has been beneficial for you this season. Make sure to visit the Internal Revenue Services IRS website for more valuable information.  The deadline to file taxes is April 18th. 

Monthly Nuggets: Dominique Broadway

Meet Dominique

"Don't Fear Failure, Fear Regret"

Dominique Broadway is a award winning Personal Finance Coach and the Founder of Finances De•mys•ti•fied. She has been named one of the top Financial Advisors in the U.S. for Millennials. Dominique is a Bowie State University alum and has received many accolades such as Top 30 Under 30 in Washington DC, the DC Future Business Leader of America Businessperson of the Year and a nominated for the Changemaker of the Year for her work with Financial Literacy.

Top 5 Financial Tips for Budding and Thriving Entrepreneurs

Know Your Numbers

As an entrepreneur, it's vital to know exactly how much money your business is making and the amount that it is costing you to run your business every month. Take the time to use a free tool such as Mint or a low-cost tool such as Quickbooks to track your business expenses.

Set Sales Goal

You're in business to make money right? So you need to set sales goals. You should set an annual sales goals and break it down to a monthly, weekly or even daily amount to ensure you are on track to the money you desire within your business.

Keep Your Business and Personal Finances Separate

Commingling business and personal finances is a common mistake that many new and established entrepreneurs often make. To help avoid getting into this situation, be sure to open a business checking and savings account ASAP and ensure your personal expenses come out of your personal account and business expenses come out of your business account.

Establish Business Credit

You can start establishing business credit as soon as you start your business! To do so, make sure you obtain your Employer Identification Number from the IRS and this will serve as your businesses social security number. You also want to obtain your DUNS number from Dun & Brad Street and be sure to use both numbers for all bank accounts, credit card and credit lines for your business.

Remember Your Why

Being an entrepreneur can be tough and in those times when money can get pretty lean, it is very easy to forget why you started! Keep your "why" posted somewhere near your workspace so, in times when money may not be flowing as well as you desire, you can remember why you started and keep pushing to reach your financial goals.