That was the goal of the Latin Business Association Institute’s day-long event yesterday at the Castaway Restaurant in Burbank.
“This is an opportunity, in our community, to do business with each other—to encourage minority women to engage in fields in which they are currently underrepresented –and connect them with contracting opportunities,” said Ruben Guerra, Chairman of the LBA.
Guerra believes helping women succeed in business will help boost the economy.
Keynote speaker – former CEO of eBay and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman – said fostering entrepreneurship and reforming public education are the keys to economic recovery.
Whitman focused heavily on empowering the individual, whether by lowering taxes that scare small business-owners away to friendlier climates such as Texas, or ensuring California’s public school system is equipped to place Californians in jobs that would otherwise be shipped overseas.
Whitman said that the loss of manufacturing jobs in California will gut the middle class segment that Latino families occupy at a rate that far outpaces other ethnicities.
Education is crucial, and if the oldest child in Latino families goes to college, the younger ones are likely to follow their older siblings path.
With the right reform and backing from the state, this cycle could allow Latinos to play a huge role in keeping California’s economic engine humming throughout the 21st Century.
Networking – the key theme of the event – is the number one social anxiety in the U.S. A recent survey found 75% of people are uncomfortable networking because it reveals something about them.
But Julia Hubbel, author of several books on the art of networking, said it is the foundation of success in business and encourages all business owners to develop strong relationships with their colleagues.
When asked how smaller businesses can compete with the big guns, Hubbel said cut to the chase! When trying to sell your company, remember corporations are looking for problem solvers.
People should also do their homework, demonstrate value, and make sure the product is up to the best standard of quality. This will help women in business break through to territory that was once unfamiliar.
Energized and armed with new ideas and tools, these women are ready to do business.
By Cheryl Getuiza, California Forward