It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. This was the underlying message for hundreds of business professionals who gathered at the recent Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC) Small Business Entrepreneur Conference.
The conference focused on providing tips and strategies for entrepreneurs and business owners to transform their operations and move to the next level of success with one-on-one networking opportunities, panel discussions, workshops, a resource fair and presentations by corporate leaders and city officials.
The first panel discussion, Transform Your Business Footprint, focused on developing a mission-driven business, E-Commerce, business certification and branding. Executives from Southern California Edison, OUE-UE, American Honda, METRO and The Marketing Millennial spoke about steps entrepreneurs can take to separate their business from the competition and gain customer loyalty. The panel discussion was moderated by public affairs consultant Jamarah Hayner of JKH Consulting, who spoke about her journey from corporate executive to opening her own practice that currently plays a critical role in facilitating billions of dollars in community investments.
Metro’s deputy executive officer, Small Business Programs Tashai Smith emphasized the benefits of becoming certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), a Disadvantaged Veterans Business Enterprise (DVBE) or other certifications offered by Metro. Smith noted that on projects funded by the federal government, these certifications can give businesses an advantage in getting contracts or becoming a subcontractor. Information sessions on Metro’s certification program are held on the second Tuesday of each month at Metro’s headquarters in Los Angeles.
Tools for Transformation, was the topic for the conference’s second panel discussion, moderated by Lily Otieno, manager of Pipeline safety Enhancement Plan for So Cal Gas Company and San Diego Gas and Electric. During this discussion, representatives from Bank of America, Lendistry, Netserve, and UCLA Extension provided information on access to capital, cyber security, digital technology and GLAAACC’s Business Evolution Program.
GLAAACC chairman Gene Hale was one of two keynote speakers. During his address, he emphasized the importance of networking at all levels – peer-to-peer, as well as with business owners and employees.
“You never know where the lead for that next big contract will come from,” Hale said. “GLAAACC’s events can provide the access and opportunity to meet the deal makers.”
Tarrance Frierson, principal manager of Supplier Diversity and Development Department at Southern California Edison, also gave a keynote address. He said now more than ever, corporations are recognizing the strength of a diverse workforce. Frierson noted that business readiness programs such as the one Otieno facilitated and this conference are sponsored by Southern California Edison to ensure a pipeline of minority and women-owned businesses are prepared for business opportunities.
“This conference was a one-stop shop for business entrepreneurs in any industry,” Frierson said. “The diversity of information and the expertise of the presenters is unrivaled. Southern California Edison is really proud to sponsor a conference of this caliber to business pwners and entrepreneurs.”
For more information on upcoming GLAAACC events, visit glaaacc.org or call (323) 292-1297.