B2B Expo Energizes, Inspires, Connects
By Gary Kauffman
Being new to the CSRA, Julie Swearingen, University Development Representative for Grand Canyon University, is seeking ways to connect with businesses in the area. She found that at the 1st annual B2B Expo and Conference.
“There were a lot of types of businesses here, which inspires more creativity in who I reach out to,” Swearingen said. “And the speakers were amazing. They’ve inspired and energized me, and sparked a few new ideas.”
Swearingen was one of more than 200 area business leaders who attended the all-day B2B Expo on Oct. 19 at The Foundry at Rae’s Creek. The Expo meshed more than 35 vendor booths with six educational and inspirational speakers and a panel discussion in a format that both attendees and vendors enjoyed.
“People were in tune with the speakers,” said Tony Canell, co-owner of InkBoy. “They helped me a lot, to think about how to grow my business and to make some changes.”
But Canell also was enthusiastic about the response he got from people who stopped at his vendor table.
“We got a lot of leads and a lot of interest in our products and services,” he said.
Neil Gordon, founder of Buzz on Biz, said that was exactly the kind of harmony between expo and conference that he and co-sponsor Chad Trollinger of Welcomemat were looking for.
“We know that small businesses and
entrepreneurs are constantly looking for products and services to do businesses better, but at the same time they also crave information about how to run their businesses more effectively,” Gordon said. “This format allowed both to occur in one day.”
The day was broken into chunks of 45 minutes of networking, interspersed with speakers. Since it all took place in the same room, it gave vendors a chance to listen to the speakers as well.
Pam Hanson, who had a vendor table for her Local Trade Group, said the format allowed for more interaction throughout the day.
“I think it kept it interesting,” she said. “I talked to a lot of people I didn’t know but also a lot I do know, but you need to deepen those relationships, too. The speakers were fantastic – I enjoyed every single one of them.”
Caroline Turner, development officer for Golden Harvest Food Bank, also enjoyed the format.
“It was a good blend of educational information and networking,” she said.
Vendors represented a wide variety of companies that do business with other businesses. Most vendor tables were busy throughout the networking breaks.
“I’ve got a whole stack of business cards to go through,” said Beth Pence, co-owner of Alphagraphics.
She said it was good to be out where she could meet people face-to-face.
“One gal said, ‘Now that I met you I’ll definitely consider doing business with you,’” Pence said. “Even if I just make one sale from this, it will make it worth it.”