achievements of African American business owners and the nation’s largest black-owned businesses. Black Entertainment Television’s Tavis Smiley was the keynote speaker.
“I’ve never come from any be event without getting new business,” says Raymond P. Lewis, the president of RPL Consulting, a 2-year-old event marketing, public relations, and promotions firm in New York City.
Handling logistics for the Pepsi-Cola booth at the Exchange expo, Lewis worked with a Pepsi employee who was so pleased with his efforts that she helped him obtain more business from her division, Pepsi-Cola, and the company, PepsiCo. “I came to work and left with more work,” says Lewis.
The inspiration to start his own company was born out of attending the be Golf and Tennis challenge in 1999. After hearing Earl G. Graves Sr., be’s chairman and publisher, explain that a goal of the event was to offer a venue for the professional to meet the nonprofessional, for the experienced to share their trials and tribulations with the up-and-coming, he went home and laid the cornerstones for RPL Consulting.
“I feel obligated to tell Mr.Graves that I am now a business owner, with three employees. And most of my business and business contacts have come through be’s events. They’ve been very good to me.”
He also met an employee from the MONY Group, an insurance and financial services company. Now the
insurers are helping Lewis implement a “financial infrastructure” for his company, and the MONY Group insures his business.
But what is even more promising for RPL’s bottom line is the relationship he established at this year’s Entrepreneurs Conference with YPB/Christian, a Florida-based marketing and public relations firm. “I’m really diligent about maintaining my relationships and my contacts. I call people regularly to check and see how they’re doing and to let them know what I’m doing,” he says, offering that as another reason why YPB/Christian has recently asked for more information about RPL Consulting.
Networking, needless to say, leads to business, and business leads to more stories about deals. Which brings us to the story of Terrie Williams, founder and president of the Terrie Williams Agency, a New York City-based public relations and marketing firm. Williams met Peter Campbell, director of new business development for the Polaroid Corp., in the lobby of the Contemporary Resort hotel.
One evening, Campbell went to the lobby to see if Polaroid Vice President and General Manager of Marketing Alison Corcoran had arrived. She hadn’t checked in, but Williams was there, and after some initial introductions, she and Campbell started talking.
Williams told him she had just written a book for teenagers, Stay Strong: Simple Life Lessons for Teens, published by Scholastic books, and was keenly aware that Polaroid was going after the teen market. “Now this is how God is in the plan,” Campbell says. “Ironically, the woman that I’m waiting for is the head of our kids organization.”
They began brainstorming ideas and Campbell promised Williams an introduction not only to Corcoran, but also to John Jenkins, the senior vice president of operations, and, says Campbell, the