Small-business owners gain insight at networking event -- Gazette.Net



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About 100 business owners attended a first-time conference Monday organized by Montgomery Community Media, gathering tips on marketing, exporting, gaining contracts and financing.

Some — like Doug Dolan, director of operations for Re Vera Technologies of Kensington — had recently helped found a business. Others such as Sepideh Behram, CEO and founder of Gaithersburg-based Capitol Legal Collections, had been business owners for years.

“Even if you’ve been in business for a number of years, you always pick up some good information, or meet someone who can help you, at these conferences,” said Behram, who is involved with a local chapter of networking organization Business Network International.

A session on multiplatform marketing yielded some good suggestions, such as going on social media sites like Yelp, Dolan said.

“There are a lot of social media sites out there. You really have to prioritize your time when you are with a small business,” he said.

Montgomery Community Media of Rockville has hosted networking events before, but this was the first conference held in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week, said Tony Spearman-Leach, development and communication director.

Representatives from the SBA, U.S. Department of Commerce, Montgomery County, Shulman Rogers and TD Bank were among those on hand to speak and answer questions. Partners for the conference included the SBA, Montgomery County Department of Economic Development, The Gazette and Montgomery Village information technology firm Taylor Leonard Corp.

The SBA’s week will culminate with a national awards luncheon and dinner Friday in Washington, D.C. The Maryland SBA office held a statewide awards luncheon in April that recognized Rocky Point Farm and Creamery in Frederick County’s Tuscarora as Family-owned Small Business of the Year, among others.

In addition, Montgomery’s Economic Development department last month hosted the inaugural Montgomery County Small Business Awards luncheon. The county has about 33,000 small businesses, with 96 percent of them having fewer than 50 employees, according to the department.

kshay@gazette.net