Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Entrepreneur Networking Can Help You

I just recently I attended the 4th annual Colorado Entrepreneurship Marketplace in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I wanted to share my experience with other entrepreneurs and encourage them to attend next year’s event. This is the second Marketplace that I have attended and I am so excited to put to use the valuable the Marketplace information that I took away.

About 70 presenters took part in the two-day event. Workshop blocks centered on finance, marketing and community development tracks. People from all over the state came to share information with entrepreneurs. I was very honored to have been asked to come speak on some of the work I have done regarding an Eastern Colorado Healthcare grant as well as doing a full workshop on marketing approaches. In addition to myself, Michelle Staley of Busy Breathers Oxygen backpacks, also of Morgan County attended as an entrepreneur and as a presenter to discuss her accomplishments with getting her backpacks into retail giant, Walgreens.

As an attendee, I learned about financing options trends from the Small Business Administration, as well as information on Cash flows, marketing budgeting and got to know many other entrepreneurs and their businesses. The major focus however, was on social and digital media. Mikal Belicove, a writer for Entrepreneur Magazine gave two workshops and was a keynote speaker. He share specific information on using Facebook for business development. He also shared information on QR codes, and the importance of developing a solid business model. I was particularly impressed when he took time to sit with me and discuss my businesses one-on-one. He gave me specific tips on how I can improve my own online marketing strategies.

Furthermore, I can not put a value on the networking value that I gained. From making new friends and finding mentors, to gaining potential business partnerships and bringing home qualified leads, the networking was not only beneficial to my business, but it was fun! Entrepreneurs are so innovative, passionate and full of good ideas and I was reminded of that repeatedly during the two days I spent with them.

On a final note, I thank and commend the Colorado Rural Development Council for their diligence and support in making sure that the Marketplace is held each year. It takes a dedicated board of volunteers and the passion of the Marketplace Director, Michelle Alcott to make this large statewide event happen, in terms of logistics and fundraising. I thank each one of them for the opportunity this affords me to learn and the opportunity to share my knowledge and encourage others. I would suggest any entrepreneurs who are reading this to plan to attend the Marketplace next year. It will be in October, with the location to be determined.

Lorrie Boyer, owner of the Colorado Agriculture News Network and Basket Designs and

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