The Times West Virginian

Business

May 11, 2014

Networking, collaborating is focus for Morgantown conference

FAIRMONT — The Teaming to Win Conference is all about networking and collaborating to achieve success.

The event will take place at the West Virginia University Erickson Alumni Center in Morgantown on Wednesday, May 28, and Thursday, May 29. The conference co-directors this year are Stephanie Pethtel, program coordinator of the Affiliate Services Group of the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation in Fairmont, and Jennifer Neptune, program analyst for NASA’s Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont.

Pethtel explained that Teaming to Win was a vision of former Congressman Alan B. Mollohan, who wanted to see businesses partner with federal agencies. The conference evolved from the idea of small businesses collaborating with one another in order to obtain contracts with federal anchors.

The conference, in its 24th year, has been held in different locations over the years but has always stayed in West Virginia, which sticks with the event’s mission of helping businesses in the state grow, Pethtel said.

Last year, Teaming to Win also took place at the WVU Erickson Alumni Center. That location was very fitting for the conference, and the attendees seemed to really enjoy their time there, she said.

While the event lasted two and a half days in the past, it was condensed down to basically a day and a half last year. Because of the great success of that format, the organizers decided to stick to the same plan this year, Pethtel said.

The 2013 conference had more than 300 attendees from across the state, and she expects to see that many people come out for the festivities this year, too.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Devora Zack, author of the book “Networking for People who Hate Networking.” Pethtel said Zack will give her presentation at breakfast so people can take what they learn and use it throughout the day in order to benefit from the conference as much as possible.

There are eight total learning tracks, which address everything from security to health care and feature different speakers.

“This year, we’ve added a lot more tracks with different businesses in mind,” Pethtel said.

She said the conference is geared toward small businesses, and time is extremely valuable for these entities. For this reason, the Teaming to Win directors and planning committees really tried to make learning tracks that would be helpful to a variety of businesses.

For example, Craig Ridley from FWD Think LLC will offer insights on how businesses can take their operations to the next level through different training programs, and Rob Holder

from Emagine IT will address the topic of “Leadership Growth, Generation Y, and Business Integrity.”

A “Hot Topics” discussion on the Affordable Care Act is also on the agenda.

During the event, there will be an exhibit showcase for the corporate sponsors and federal agencies, who will set up booths and provide prime networking opportunities for the small businesses that are present, Pethtel said.

In addition, small businesses can take advantage of an offering called “Small Business 101.” For this activity, small businesses will sign up for times to network with some of the government agencies and will have 15 minutes to talk about their company and get their foot in the door, she said.

Other networking opportunities are part of the schedule as well.

Teaming to Win will also feature the 2014 Small Business Awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office. Pethtel said the SBA is a perfect partner in the conference, as the awards will serve as a platform to celebrate the successes of businesses in the region and the state.

Another feature of the conference will be a reception titled “Bowties, Ballet and Bluegrass,” which will include a piece by the Morgantown Ballet Company, remarks by WVU President Dr. Gordon Gee, and music.

Teaming to Win also allows attendees to see both new and old faces and to make connections and reconnect with others, Pethtel said.

“We’re excited for this year,” she said. “I think we’ve really found a (lot) to help small businesses. We really think it’s going to be successful.”

The cost to attend the conference is $150 per person, which includes the SBA awards dinner. To register or for more information, visit teamingtowin.org.

Email Jessica Borders at jborders@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.

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