7 Ways To Make Your Online Virtual Conference Successful

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Virtual conference with many laptops and technology background and assortment of images with people wearing headsets

The COVID-19 global pandemic has upended the conference and events industry. While some events have been canceled or postponed, others are being moved to an online, virtual setup in order to safeguard the health of attendees and presenters.

Virtual conference events aren’t new (indeed, some very large ones are held each year). However, they are unfamiliar to many meeting planners, and it’s important to understand that the keys to a successful virtual conference event are a bit different than those for a traditional live event. Keynote speakers need to recognize this, as well, since keynote programs that work well onstage might not translate well to an online format.

As a keynote speaker who’s headlined both live and virtual conference events for over a decade, here are 7 tips I’ve learned about how to make digital events successful, from large online gatherings to small eLearning sessions:

1. Use video if at all possible.

Even when delivered by the best speakers, it can be difficult to hold a virtual audience’s attention with a slide-based presentation, alone. Most webinar platforms support videoconferencing, and virtual conference speakers should absolutely make use of that capability. When your audience can see the speaker at a virtual event, it makes for a more engaging, more personalized attendee experience. If video is not available, then consider shortening the speaker sessions from a standard one-hour keynote to something more abbreviated, in an effort to maintain audience engagement throughout the entire presentation.

2. Carefully consider the best available audio option.

One surefire way to disengage a virtual audience is to subject them to poor audio quality. If they’re unable to hear the speakers clearly, they’ll tune them out (if not actually disconnect from the live feed). In contrast to a live event, with carefully controlled, professional A/V equipment – audio quality for a virtual session can be negatively impacted by a wide variety of factors: the quality of the speaker’s microphone, the platform used to capture the audio (landline phone, cell phone or VOIP), and network quality/connectivity (for cell and VOIP audio). The most reliable, high quality alternative is a landline phone – encourage your speakers to use that device, if at all possible. If a landline isn’t available, the second-best option will vary depending on the speaker’s equipment setup and connectivity. Test out those different options well before the event, and select the one that provides the best listening experience for the audience.

3. Make sure your speakers have customized their presentations for a virtual audience.

A speech that works well in a live venue may not translate perfectly to a virtual one. Speakers may not at first realize it, but gestures and other visual cues that they (sometimes unknowingly) use during a live speech won’t work in the virtual event. For this reason, speakers skilled in virtual events will utilize special materials for that delivery medium, such as a modified slide deck which helps convey information or emotion that wouldn’t otherwise be communicated effectively across a digital medium.

4. Keep the session interactive.

Depending on the size of the audience, the degree to which the virtual session can be made interactive will vary. Even large virtual conferences, however, can be made more interactive simply by using the audience polling features which are available in many online event platforms. Explain to the audience how to submit questions via the platform, and encourage them to do so, be it during a designated Q&A period at the end of the session, or during the program. Make sure speakers keep an eye on questions as they are submitted, so they can address some of them on the fly during their prepared remarks.

5. Do a comprehensive A/V check – and take it seriously.

Most speakers can do A/V checks at live events in their sleep, as it’s an exercise with which they are exceedingly familiar. That’s not the case with virtual events. Even if a speaker has done virtual sessions in the past, there’s no guarantee their next virtual event will use the same technology platform as their last. Great speakers leave nothing to chance when preparing for an event, and that approach is especially important with virtual sessions. Check everything in advance – audio/video quality, screen sharing, host-to-speaker private messaging, audience Q&A – and do it all with the same equipment and internet connection that the speaker will be using on event day.

6. Plan for technical issues.

Live events are conducted in well-controlled environments, where skilled A/V technicians are overseeing the entire endeavor. That’s not the case in a virtual conference event, where there are a host of potential breakpoints (network connectivity among them) that nobody has to even think about when putting on an in-person meeting. Develop contingency plans for whatever technical issues might crop up during the session. For example, if speakers are using slides, have them send their presentations to the event host in advance – so if the speaker loses connectivity, the host can at least step in and advance the slides for them.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Best Practices On Running Virtual Teams From Founder Of Company With 1,000 Remote Employees

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Back view of female employee talk with male businessman on webcam laptop conference, woman worker with man employer brainstorm on video call from home, online

There’s never been a time in our life when businesses couldn’t gather in their buildings and offices for work. While we’re finding ways to work virtually, leaders are still looking to understand how to run their businesses without the ability to meet in person. As we navigate this new norm, I want to help you by providing some tips on how to run your teams and businesses remotely.

I recently interviewed my friend Bryan Miles, Chairman & Co-Founder of BELAY – a leading virtual services company. While this time of operating remotely is new for many, it is business as usual for Bryan and his team of nearly 100 employees and 1,000+ virtual contractors who have been operating virtually for 10+ years.

Bryan shared with me how his company successfully operates remotely by offering tips on the best platforms and technology to use, adapting your leadership style, how to maintain collaboration and productivity, and how to offer grace and trust in a virtual environment.

Here are the 8 components of successful remote working I learned from Bryan:

1 – Have the Right Video Conferencing Tools

Bryan mentioned that businesses operating virtually must have trustworthy video conferencing tools. While there are many options on the market, such as Skype and Google Hangout, Zoom has taken the lead as the preferred system. Ensuring you have a dependable way to communicate when working remotely is the best way to maintain collaboration, trust, and productivity.

Tip: Use these video conferencing tools to continue or instate morning check-ins with your team or company. This will help you all feel more connected and get a closer look into each other’s personal lives, which will build strong bonds of trust between team members.

2 – Ensure You Have Solid Equipment

To maintain daily business operations while remote, it’s crucial to have a good computer, high-speed internet connection, a webcam, a good microphone, and any other necessities required to do your job and communicate with your boss and co-workers. This seems like a no-brainer, but these are often things we don’t think about until a remote situation arises. It’s important to make sure you have access to these necessities at all times.

3 – Maintain Your Routine

When you work from home, it’s easy to forget your normal routine. But the best way to show up for work, ready and prepared is to continue the same routine you would do on any working day. Whether that’s a morning quiet time, going on a walk before work, exercising at lunch, or prayer breaks throughout the day, be sure to keep that going. It’s also helpful to have a designated workspace. Ensuring you can work without the distraction of household responsibilities or family members will help your productivity throughout the day.

4 – Create Company-wide Guidelines

You don’t want to create a company policy just for the sake of having guidelines, but setting expectations in a remote environment helps people know where boundaries are and sets them up for success. It’s good for leadership to set expectations about when people should be online or how to best communicate under these unique circumstances.

Tip: One expectation that will help employees stay focused is to hold calls with mandatory video and audio access. Asking your team to share their workspace on video will ensure they’re actually attending the meeting, paying attention, and in a focused-environment.

5 – Ask Your Boss for Clear Expectations

Every boss is facing hard decisions right now, so have grace with your boss and do everything you can to support them. They will be adapting how they lead in this unprecedented time, so have understanding and patience as they navigate. Make sure to maintain open communication as you navigate this space together.

6 – Over-encourage Feedback and Communication

On Bryan’s team at BELAY, they use a “fist to five” system. When the team needs a quick read on how people are feeling about a topic, they ask participants to use their hand to put up a fist (a 0 on the comfort scale), or five fingers (a full-fledged approval) to show their acceptance. If most people are a five, you know things are going pretty well. Easy forms of feedback like this will help monitor morale even during periods of distance.

7 – Extend an Overabundance of Grace

This applies to your bosses, co-workers, and vendors. When remote, you don’t have body language to help communication, you can’t ask your office-mate for a quick favor, and it probably takes some adapting to work as efficiently as you were in your office. Giving people the benefit of the doubt in these situations will build strong bonds that will transcend this temporary time.

8 – Remember – Culture is Not an Office, it’s a Shared Vision

Bryan reminds us as business owners that it’s not your pool table in the office that creates your exceptional culture, it’s how you trust and treat your employees. While it’s easy for leaders to micromanage in times of uncertainty, try to allow your team space to prove their competence and drive. Give them the freedom to work creatively toward a united goal and vision, rather than creating a list of tasks for them to complete.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

First Native American-Owned Film Studio Shoots Post-Civil War Drama

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Camel Rock Studios

Many people would be familiar with the idea of Native American-owned casinos—but what about movie studios? Last year, the Tesque Pueblo Tribe of New Mexico was looking to move out of their old casino building into a bigger space—and while in the process, they realized the 75,000-square-foot facility that they were leaving behind would make a perfect movie studio.

Thus was born the first ever Native American-owned production studio and location set in history: Camel Rock Studios—where the Tom Hanks post-Civil War drama News of the World was filmed.

Located in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in northern New Mexico, the beautiful plot of Tesque Pueblo land has now been the backdrop for over 20 films that needed its rolling desert hills, including Cowboy and The Man from Laramie.

The Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation has invested $50 million in expanding the facilities at Camel Rock Studios to include a movie ranch with standing sets, prop studios, a filming-equipped water tank, and 1,000 parking spots, which anyone who has been part of a movie production would agree is a huge plus.

“Casinos, inherently, if you take out all the games, are big empty spaces,” Timothy Brown president and CEO of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corporation told Variety. “So we had an events center that we did concerts in and large parties that was a big vacant space. Once we removed all the casino equipment and furniture from the casino area, that became another large vacant space, and then with any business we had an entire administrative area with cubicles and offices that became perfect for their offices to move in.”

Along with Hollywood’s enduring love of western films, Camel Rock and the Tesque Pueblo Nation are looking to take advantage of a filming boom in New Mexico, with recent successes behind shows like Breaking Bad luring more projects to the area.

“You don’t realize it but this area looks like a lot of places in the world…especially the Middle-East, with the mountains and how rugged it is,” Brown added, explaining the Tribe’s thinking.

Netflix even made Albuquerque its U.S. production hub, purchasing Albuquerque Studios as part of a plan to spend $100 million in filming and production for original material in the state over the next 10 years.

Continue on to The Good News Network to read the complete article.

4 Tips for People New to Working from Home

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Woman looking at computer while working remotely from home office

The impacts of COVID-19 are being felt throughout the U.S. right now and one of those is the fact that many people who previously commuted to an office are at least temporarily working from home, some for the first time. While this surge in work from home employees may only last for a relatively short time, I also wouldn’t be surprised if many new companies embrace the policy going forward. As someone who has worked from home exclusively for the last few years, I thought I would provide a few useful tips for people who are entering this new territory in their workplace culture and environment.

First off, let me say that I love working from home. It suits my work style, personality, and role with my company. It may be that your situation is very different in any of those areas or others. However, I think these strategies should be beneficial for just about anyone adapting to a remote work environment.

You Must Be Disciplined

This is the single most important part of being both happy and successful in a work from home situation. For many managers and companies, a hesitation they may have had around letting their team members work from home is the idea that they won’t actually work as much as at the office. This is certainly a fair point. Working from home naturally introduces a whole host of new distractions and situations that may pull employees away from their jobs.

One big key for new home-based workers is the ability to shift from home to work mode, while not actually leaving the house. The daily commute and office setting help people make this transition. But, if you work from home, your commute may simply involve getting out of bed and walking to your home office or kitchen table. The fact that you’re working in a place where you previously were able to decompress and get into personal mode may feel a bit strange initially. This is where discipline first comes in. You have to make the switch regardless and be able to stay focused during the day, when distractions like your TV, dog, kids, significant other, etc. are right there. This takes discipline and focus.

But, the flip side of this is that people who work from home can also fall into a situation where they are now at the ‘office’ all the time. It may suddenly become easier to work earlier and later every day. Your evening family time might now be pushed aside in order to finish up a project, answer emails, or otherwise stay caught up with work. You also may find that without the distraction of interacting with other team members or needing to leave the ‘office’ to get lunch, you spend much more time in front of your computer.

Neither situation (being easily distracted or working 24/7) will make your work from home situation successful in the short or long term. So, you need to find ways to stay focused while you’re ‘at work’ but also unplug after hours. Whether this means simply adopting the same work hours you had when you went to the office or setting an alarm for yourself in the morning and evening, find a way to keep some level of balance between your work and home life.

One challenge that many remote workers encounter is feeling disconnected from their company and co-workers and potentially even loneliness. You aren’t going to be able to walk over to a team member’s office (or vice versa) and have a quick chat about a work topic or even last night’s baseball game. This can be a real adjustment for even fairly introverted people and if you are more of an extrovert it really can be challenging.

While it isn’t a true substitute for in-person conversations, there are plenty of communication and collaboration tools that can help address feelings of disconnection. Platforms like Slack or similar chat-based systems can do a great job of keeping team members connected on work-related topics and also provide a social outlet for just catching up and chatting about personal topics. When it comes to projects, there are numerous tech platforms like Google Docs, Confluence, Hive, etc. that support collaboration on projects and documents. Hopefully, your company has already adopted many of these tools or will do so to better support remote team members. Make sure you are taking full advantage of them. While they aren’t a complete replacement for in-person contact, they can go a long way toward helping everyone feel more connected.

Set up an Office Space

This ties into being disciplined and it may or may not be as readily available to every home-based employee. One good way to help separate your work and home life is to set up a specific place in your home that will function as your dedicated workspace. The best-case scenario is likely a dedicated home office with a door you can close. This allows you to closely approximate your actual work environment, with a desk and other typical office supplies.

However, if you don’t have a spare room that you can use as a dedicated home office, look for another area of your house, apartment, etc. that can feel separate from the rest of the house. This isn’t to say you can’t have a laptop and work from the couch in your living room, but that is also an area that is likely to offer the most distractions during the day. It might be setting up a small desk in the corner of your bedroom, or setting up in the dining room that you don’t use very often. Whichever option you choose, try to set up a semi-permanent location that you can identify as your ‘office’ and it should help you maintain that separation from the rest of your home.

Embrace the Positives

While the last few points may have seemed to focus on the challenges of working from home, there are also plenty of benefits. As I mentioned previously, I absolutely love working from home and wouldn’t change it, even if there was an office for me to commute to each day. Here are just a few obvious benefits to keep in mind.

    1. No commute – Who enjoys commuting to an office every day? I know people who spend 1-2 or more hours per day in their cars just driving to and from work. You get to add all that time back into your day. This alone can be a life-changing experience for people making the shift to working from home.
    2. No dress code – Want to wear shorts and a t-shirt to work every day? Chances are you have that option when you work from home. Even if you need to jump on video calls during the day and need to look presentable, no one knows if you’re in shorts and flip flops out of view of your webcam. Take advantage of this benefit and be comfortable!
    3. You pick your office atmosphere – Like to crank up the music while you’re working? Want the heat turned up or down? Lights up or dimmer? Basically anything you can control in your home environment is now also under your control for your work environment.

There are tons of others that may apply to you as well. You might be able to throw in a load of laundry in the middle of the day, run to the grocery store over lunch, or take care of other quick household chores when you need a short break. All of these offer real benefits that aren’t available when you commute to an office.

Working from home isn’t for everyone and I’m sure many people who are required to work remotely in the upcoming weeks or months may find it not to their liking. They may breathe a big sigh of relief when they get to go back to their old working routine at the company office. But, I also bet there are a lot of people who will enjoy the experience and may just push their companies to let them continue working from home either permanently or at least more often than previously.

This article was written for Business 2 Community by Tom Wozniak.

Two Upcoming Webinars-Business Resource Group Leadership Development and the Impact of Supplier Diversity Outreach Activities

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NUDC Web Series

Join Us for Our FREE Webinars on 3/25 and 4/21!

MARCH:

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Developing Business Resource Group Leadership

Kristine Maciolek Small, PPL Corporation and Deb Dagit, Deb Dagit Diversity

Business/Employee resource groups can be one of a company’s hidden treasures, helping to identify new sources for the talent pipeline, shining a spotlight on current and high potential leaders and creating a cross-functional multi-level team of advocates to help retain valued employees. BRGs are also a key component of a successful diversity and inclusion strategy, helping to improve culture, serving as advocates and allies for awareness and change.

Successful BRGs have effective leaders who know how to connect and collaborate with members, colleagues and more importantly, the company’s leadership.

Join Kristine Maciolek Small, PPL and Deb Dagit, Deb Dagit Diversity, to understand how leadership development opportunities for BRG leaders and members can improve professional skills and foster BRG collaboration across demographic and business lines, thereby increasing the effectiveness of not just the BRGs, but the enterprise. Register today!

This webinar will offer useful insights and ideas for BRG leaders and members, human resource professionals, business managers and both formal and informal executive sponsors.

APRIL

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 10am PDT/1pm EDT

Impact Analysis: Supplier Diversity Supporting Activities
How does data inform the impact of outreach activities to advance opportunities for diverse suppliers?

Jose Espinoza, CalWater
How do you prioritize activities? Why measure impact? What does impact look like? Join Jose Espinoza, as he reviews a data-driven program: the importance in measuring impact, top-five activities; he will share tips for supplier diversity managers, advocacy organizations, and diverse suppliers. He’ll conclude with how to implement a similar approach.

In addition to going beyond demonstrating diverse spend, this webinar will illustrate the importance of each step in the supplier diversity process including why it’s important to know where diverse suppliers are coming from, so you can identify barriers. More importantly, when you have current metrics on suppliers, those metrics can be used to encourage supplier diversity growth. Register today!

The webinars and the work of NUDC is made possible in part by grants from Academy Securities, ACT-1 Group, AG Tools, Alcoa Traffic Control, American Association of Blacks in Energy, American Water, Anonymous, Arnita Smith, Burns Environmental Services, Inc., C.L. King & Associates, California Water Association, Center for Energy Workforce Development, Conitsha Barnes, Connecticut Water, Consumers Energy, Damian Rivera, Diversity Comm, Donna Ruff, Dr. Alexander Washington, Duke Energy, Edison Electric Institute, Exelon Corporation, Gainesville Regional Utilities, Gunster, Heather McCreary, Hispanics in Energy, Jesse Castellanos, Liberty Power, Loop Capital, MFR Securities, Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, New York Power Authority, NRG Energy, Osceola Consulting, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Penserra, Philadelphia Gas Works, PJM Interconnection, PPL, Ruben Strategy Group, S&H Metal & Fabricating Co. Inc., Salesforce, Sanjay Kucheria/Trinus, Southern California Edison Company, Southern California Gas Company, Southwest Gas, SouthWest Water Company, TAS Strategies, TechSoup, The Dowling-Woo Company, The ELITE SDVOB Network, Utility Workers Union of America, Yolanda Pollard; Support for the Diversity Toolkit also received from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Economic Impact and Diversity; the Supplier Diversity webinar series is sponsored in part bynerous support from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Internet companies won’t disconnect people for unpaid bills for 60 days, FCC says

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Latino family in kitchen on the computer

The Federal Communications Commission has won commitments from phone and broadband providers to support the swelling numbers of adults and children working and attending classes from home, respectively, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A group of broadband and telecommunications firms signed up to the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” which asks connectivity companies to postpone termination of services for the next 60 days on homes or small businesses because of an inability to pay bills because of the outbreak.

Among the companies to endorse the pledge are major and minor internet providers including AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Google Fiber, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile.

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked the FCC to go farther by asking companies to also lift and eliminate data caps and overage charges, and get hospitals connected and make sure there are hot spots for loans to school children.

Internet service providers are beginning to advertise temporary discounts, including for students whose schools are closed because of the coronavirus.

Charter Communications said Friday it would offer free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 or college students who do not already have a broadband subscription. Cox Communications said it was offering one month free service to new customers of its low-income service beginning Monday, and increasing the service’s speed beginning Tuesday.

AT&T said Thursday it was waiving internet data overage fees for customers who did not already have unlimited home internet access. Comcast said it would give its Internet Essentials service away for free for 60 days. (Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.)

The FCC said Friday that Chairman Ajit Pai was “calling on broadband and telephone service providers to promote the connectivity of Americans impacted by the disruptions caused by the #coronavirus pandemic.”

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

Men Design ‘Leather’ Material Out of Cactus—and It Could Replace the Need for Animals in Fashion Industry

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two men fashion designers looking at differnt fabric

Two men have succeeded in developing an alternative to animal leather made out of Mexican cactus—and it could save millions of animals worldwide.

Adrián López Velarde and Marte Cázarez are responsible for creating their vegan fabric out of the nopal cactus. Although it took them two years of research and development to design the fabric, they perfected its manufacturing process in July and debuted it to the fashion world in Milan, Italy back in October 2019.

The entrepreneurs realized the environmental impact of animal leather after they both spent years working in the furniture, automotive, and fashion industries. Upon quitting their jobs, they co-founded Adriano Di Marti to design their innovative leather replacement.

Their patented “Desserto” fabric is made out of cactus leaves that are harvested sustainably every 6 to 8 months. The material is designed to breathe easily while still being durable and partially biodegradable.

In addition to the cactus-based material also requiring a minimal amount of water to develop, it is grown organically in the state of Zacatecas.

The material, which has been made available in a variety of colors using natural dyes, has now been used to make everything from bags and automotive seating to shoes and jackets.

WATCH THE VIDEO:

Continue on to the Good News Network to read the complete article.

Disability in the Workplace: It’s on Us

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Group picture of the Respectability Organizations members

Actor Vincenzo Piscopo shares his D&I experience as a Coca-Cola employee.

After more than two decades of working for the Coca-Cola Company, actor Vincenzo Piscopo knows what it means to leverage opportunities for people with disabilities within a company. Educating employers and encouraging volunteerism in the community are all ways he’s found success within Coca-Cola’s philanthropic endeavors.

Piscopo’s career with Coca-Cola has taken him to several different areas of the organization, including finance, IT, marketing and innovation. His extensive background in advocating for people with a disability within the workplace has given him a broad understanding of what other companies lack.

He has been the director of community and stakeholder relations for a year now and has been given the opportunity to “fill his file cabinet,” as Piscopo says, with knowledge about how to advocate for women, Hispanics, African Americans, LGBTQ and people with disabilities.

Marketplace, Workplace, and Community
Coca-Cola created a Business Resource Group (BRG) to promote inclusion in the workplace with subgroups for specific minorities. Each group has three main objectives within the BRG: marketplace, workplace and community.

For people with disabilities, the goal in terms of the marketplace is to ensure the company leverages the opportunity that people bring as consumers. “Yes, it’s the right thing, but it’s also an opportunity,” Piscopo says about the business standpoint of hiring people with disabilities and the value they bring to the workplace.

Vincenzo Piscopo and Vivian O’Neal

The workplace objective refers to increasing the hiring and retaining of employees with disabilities. Piscopo discussed the importance of educating people within the company on disability etiquette, how to recognize when something is not accessible, how to provide accommodations, etc.

The third and final objective, community, works to provide community partnerships, collaborate and promote volunteerism.

It’s on Us: Disability in the Workplace
Many times, advocates find themselves frustrated with those who don’t know how to conduct themselves when working with people with disabilities. However, as Piscopo points out, “it’s on us” to educate and make people aware.

Piscopo worked for Coca-Cola before an accident ultimately left him paralyzed from the waist down. Since his accident, Piscopo’s employees have become more curious about the disability community and genuine accessibility.

Ignorance is often not disguised as discrimination, but rather fear of the unknown. Piscopo says diversity in the workplace expands our “file cabinet” and gives employers more resources to enlighten everyone on disability etiquette.

Piscopo is a proud board member of RespectAbility, a non-profit that fights stigmas and focuses on advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.

Source: respectability.org

MBEs: Get Certified Today

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Young Hispanic couple, woman with laptop computer

Why certify? Businesses that are certified as minority owned are subject to different laws and regulations than other businesses and as such are very different entities from typical enterprises. Unlike a standard business license or registration, a minority-owned business enterprise certification is not required to run a minority-owned business, although certification can provide many benefits for a company—especially in regards to government contracting.

Below are some of the certification processes your company can expect to navigate when seeking minority-owned business enterprise certification. Also listed are the requirements that must be met by businesses that are seeking certification.

  • Manufacturers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 500 or 1500, depending on the product being manufactured.
  • Wholesalers – Maximum number of employees must not surpass 100 or 500, depending on the product being provided.
  • Service providers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $2.5 or $21.5 million, depending on the service being provided.
  • Retailers – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $5.0 or $21.0 million, depending on the product being provided.
  • General and Heavy Construction businesses – Annual sales receipts must not exceed $13.5 or $17 million, depending on the type of construction the company is engaged in.
  • Special Trade Construction businesses – Annual receipts must not be higher than $7 million.
  • Agricultural businesses – Annual sales receipts must not be higher than $0.5 to $9.0 million, depending on the agricultural product being produced.

Business Requirements

1) The company applying for certification must have a racial minority owner who owns at least 51 percent of the company.

2) The same owner must hold the highest position in the company.

3) The company must pay a fee based on company annual gross sales and also file an application that details basic company information, such as what year the business was founded.

4) The company’s primary business locations must be available for site visits.

Getting Bids

Build Relationships. When it comes to winning bids in the government contracting marketplace, contacts are everything. Business owners are advised to take the time to make connections, build relationships and network extensively. The contacts a business develops are often the key to furthering their success in government contracting. Proactively networking with larger companies, agencies and even competitors can lead to subcontracting opportunities while also showing agencies that you are a trustworthy and reliable business partner.

Subcontract. Building a reputation as a professional enterprise is crucial to the success of any business. Winning a government bid isn’t only about the monetary aspects involved with a contract; other factors are evaluated, too. An agency will often look at company financials, work history and reputation before selecting a winning organization. It helps to have contacts who can vouch for your company and the work that you do. By subcontracting, you build your reputation and gain valuable experience.

You never know when the contacts you develop will come in handy. Therefore, you should make each and every relationship meaningful because in the long run, these are the relationships that will further your company’s success.

Government RFPs are a great way for minority-owned business enterprises (MBE) to win spot and term contracts. Every year, the U.S. federal government spends more than $200 billion on goods and services, all of which are provided by private companies and many of which are minority-owned businesses. From federal to state, local and special districts, all levels of government have programs in place to increase their involvement with certified minority-owned business enterprises. Only companies who have gone through the MBE certification process are eligible for the money that is made available through such programs.

Source: BidNet

This Latina Entrepreneur Shares 4 Things She Kept In Mind As She Built Her New Venture And Raised $4 Million

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Latina entrepreneur Shadiah Sigala pictured smiling wearing a blue dress

Shadiah Sigala co-founded HoneyBook back in 2013 as a business management tool for creative entrepreneurs. Under her leadership, HoneyBook helped creatives navigate everything from invoicing to building community. As the company grew, and Sigala with it, she realized that everyone from the company’s employees to its users were graduating into different chapters of their own lives as well.

“Kinside was inspired by my experience as a first-time-founder and first-time-mother at my previous startup, HoneyBook,” shares Sigala, while explaining the inception of her second venture, Kinside. “As a cofounder and as one of the early parents on the team, my pregnancy left me responsible for determining many of our company policies. Soon, more babies would start springing up in our employee population, and our family leave, parental benefits and workplace culture matured to meet the need. However, when we sought out a child care benefit to enhance our efforts, we found that nothing quite fit our modern workforce. So I decided to do something about it and start Kinside out of the famed Silicon Valley accelerator, Y Combinator.”

Closing in on a year and a half, Kinside has graduated out of Y Combinator and has publicly launched with a total of $4 million in VC funding raised over 18 months. The solution it is offering is both for parents and the companies that employ them — a child care app that works for both the person just launching their career to the executive leading the company.

“I’ve learned that the desire to be the best for your children is universal, and it transcends job title, salary, race, personal beliefs, location,” explains Sigala.

Below Sigala expands on 4 key areas that played the biggest difference in starting and raising funds for her second startup.

Learn from your past experiences

“My first startup, HoneyBook, was a crash course in scaling a product and company quickly—from learning about organizational best practices to managing teams, and making executive decisions,” shares Sigala. “Today, I have the benefit of pattern recognition in a way that’s doubled our pace. We have gone from 10 beta employers to over 1,000 in fewer than 18 months.”

As Sigala noted, don’t be afraid to use prior experiences and transferable skillsets — whether from past startups or corporate settings — to help set yourself up for success in future endeavors.

The right co-founders

Sigala’s first company, HoneyBook, emphasizes how important it is for creatives to build supportive communities around themselves and how the same can be said for founders of startups.

“My secret weapon is my cofounders,” explains Sigala. “I lean on them to steer the ship, make important decisions, and think through tough challenges. It doesn’t hurt that they are both black-belts, wicked smart, and incredibly funny.”

Figure out what grounds you

An entrepreneur’s journey isn’t full of only highs, figuring out what will ground you during the lower moments is what will help you hold on and keep going. Sigala credits her experience growing up Latinx with helping inform her perspective as an entrepreneur.

Continue on to Forbea to read the complete article.

The 50 Most Powerful Latinas in Corporate America

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ALPFA women announce the Most Powerful Latinas

The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA) announced its list of the 50 Most Powerful Latinas of 2019, announced during its Women of ALPFA luncheon at its annual convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

This is the third iteration of the Most Powerful Latinas list.

ALPFA’s Most Powerful Latinas list highlights the achievements of senior Latina executives running Fortune 500 companies, departments, and large private firms, and also includes a few entrepreneurs leading global companies.

They were chosen according to ALPFA’s strict selection criteria.

The full list and rankings are available on ALPFA’s website

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About Women of ALPFA:Launched in 2002, the Women of ALPFA(WOA)initiative provides unique development and networking opportunities for ALPFA’s Latina members and the companies that want to reach them.WOA is dedicated to the professional success of Latina women, offering targeted programs and training through a professional development curriculum. WOA aims to provide professional Latinas with the tools to strengthen their leadership and management skills, fostering both their professional and personal growth.

About ALPFA:Founded in 1972, ALPFA (The Association of Latino Professionals forAmerica) was the first national Latino professional association in the United States. ALPFA’s purpose is connecting Latino leaders for impactand is committed to developing Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation, in every sector of the global economy. Today, ALPFA serves over 92,000 members in 160 student chapters and 45 professional chapters across the country.