Career Tech launches lunch and learn networking sessions

Henry Dumas

Entrepreneurs care about the success of their company. They want the best for the company — including the people that work for them and with them. Most are eager to sharpen their business savvy but have little time to spend in a classroom.

The Moore Norman Technology Center has the resources to help guide and grow businesses to the next level.

Its Business Excellence Workshop Series is designed for today’s busy professional. Classes are focused on issues that affect individuals, teams, and organizations. They are offered in various formats that allow for quick learning, and provide techniques that can help attendees immediately take what they’ve learned back to their work setting. Workshops and webinars are available; one of the most popular choices has been the Lunch & Learn series.

Small Business Management Coordinator Henry Dumas introduced the Lunch & Learn series and began scheduling speakers last October. Subjects have included tax updates for small businesses, how businesses can avoid legal traps and strategic planning. Each session continues to meet Friday mornings at the South Penn campus and features a guest speaker. Sessions are open to the public and cost $19 each, which include all learning materials and a sack lunch for each attendee. 

“I didn’t want the price to be a barrier with what I’m doing, so I charge just enough so they can have lunch,” Dumas said. “I do them in the morning because entrepreneurs don’t have a day or half a day or two or three days to spend, and I feed them (attendees) lunch. I try to make it very easy for them.”

Surveys are conducted after each session, Dumas said, and on a scale from one to five — one indicating low satisfaction and five indicating high satisfaction, attendees tend to give a high rating in addition to overwhelmingly positive feedback.

“They’ve all been essentially fives,” Dumas said, “which is phenomenal and they’ve told us to do some more (workshops). We have a group that’s gone to every one of them, so we’re just getting the word out. They’re catching fire because they matter.”

Most speakers allow for introductions during their sessions, allowing attendees to network, find more resources and strengthen their presence in the business community.

“There’s a group that shows up a little early and stays a little later, and they’re building their own affinity, network and contacts along with getting good information. I think that’s been very helpful,” he said.

Dumas picks presenters from his own personal list of contacts and said he has chosen speakers that have a wealth of information to share with others. Past guest speakers have included a host of accomplished professionals, including GiANT Partners CEO David Woods, President and CEO of OMS Technologies Agi Lurtz, ActionCOACH business coach Rob Graibay and Certified Valuation Analyst Ted Blodgett. Dumas then coordinates with the MNTC department to promote each workshop, providing the speaker’s background and a brief synopsis of what he or she will speak about during the workshop.

“I have a database of entrepreneurs in the private sector that I’ve known for the past 25 years and I reach out to them to make them aware of it so they can block out their schedule. I think that’s why I’m getting a good group on a consistent basis. I try to make it easy for people to learn important material.”

Information is presented at a comfortable pace, Dumas said, making it easy for attendees to absorb material and engage with the presenters, who often dispense their contact information should attendees want additional help and resources.

“It’s a very relaxing atmosphere,” Dumas said. “It’s about building relationships, and it’s not a formal affair. We like to keep it about the topic and getting to know people.”

Dumas said he looks forward to each workshop and has planned for the rest of the calendar year.

“I think this is a gift to be able to give to entrepreneurs and other people in the community who want to continue to learn. I get a charge out of people taking the information and watching these workshops grow.”

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