Sunday, May 26, 2013
10 things I learned at the B.E. Entrepreneur's Conference:
1. Network = Net Worth: Some of the wealthiest people at the conference were also the most connected individuals. One great example is Mr. Earl Graves Sr. who has connections with Magic Johnson, Bob Johnson as Robert Townsend as well as others. It's my hypothesis that more than any speaking fee that might have been offered it was the established network that Mr. Graves has built over the past 40+ years that convinced the great names above to attend and speak at his conference. Mr. Graves is without a doubt the most influential black businessman in the country and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet him.
2. Conferences are completely what you make them: I met 50+ new people. (again) I shook hands with Mr. Earl Graves Sr., Mr. Bob Johnson (first black billionaire and founder of BET) and Dr, Dennis Kimbro - the author of Think and Grow Rich a Black Choice and his new book The Wealth Choice.. Not to mention learned a lot about business throughout the length of the conference.
3. The early bird gets the worm: I missed out on getting a book signed by Dr. Dennis Kimbro - he ran out of books. However, I did get a chance to interview him by being ready when his book signing was over.
4. Conferences take a team to produce: I had a chance to speak to one of the event organizers - Toni. She gave me an idea about how much the annual event cost. Let's just say it was several multiples of my current annual salary. It took a team of fantastic people and sponsorships to make the event go well.
5. Speak to the speakers - (if you can): I think read this somewhere - not sure where, but speaking to speakers and/or panelists is something everyone should do or at least attempt to do when at conferences. I did my best to do that at every session I attended.
6. Treat everyone with respect: I made the mistake of being impatient with a fellow conference attendee during a conversation. It was only later that I learned this attendee was also both a speaker and a multimillionaire.That mistake won't happen again.
7. You never know who's sitting next to you: I was able to sit next to Millionaires, Doctors, Lawyers, Directors and stand up to shake hands with local CEOs form across the country. It was a great experience overall.
8. You pay for access: Some of the people I met this past week are people I would've never crossed paths with in normal life. Paying a fee of $500 was (to me) well worth the price to rub shoulders with greatness. To be honest, I was concerned that I was throwing away $500 of my money as the conference approached by the end of the conference I realized it was an investment - well worth its price.
9. It pays to be in the right place at the right time: I had the good fortune of being in the right place and the right time to meet Dr. Dennis Kimbro, Mr. Earl Graves and Bob Johnson. It helps that I'm from Columbus and know how to navigate our convention center somewhat.
10. If you make it more about them (than you) you can win: No one cares about you, your business or your body of work until you start to show some level of concern for their issues. I did my best to adhere to this rule and I think I developed some great relationships as a result.