The AfroTech 2019 speaker lineup is crazy! Among those speaking is Mandela SH Dixon, founder of Founder Gym, a leading online program dedicated to supporting and educating founders of color on how-tos of startup funding.

Since Founder Gym’s inaugural cohort, nearly 400 founders have graduated and raised over $40 million in startup funding, according to its site. Along with her Founder Gym accomplishments, Mandela also has other success receipts, including seven years in Silicon Valley, where she was invested in by some of Silicon’s biggest investors.

Mandela, who also spoke at AfroTech 2018, took over AfroTech’s Instagram and dropped some gems that will help attendees take full advantage of this year’s conference! Here are some take-home points:

Don’t Show Up Unprepared

As DJ Khaled would say, “Don’t ever play yourself.” To show up to AfroTech ready to execute your plan, you first have to develop one.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” Mandela said, advising attendees to consider their entrepreneurial needs when devising their plan.

“What are my top three needs? What are the top three things keeping me up at night?” Mandela said.

Whether it’s the lack of financial backing, quality team members, or time stopping the success of your business, write them down. Mandela advises you come to Oakland prepared.

Set Your Intentions

“What is your intention going in?” Mandela said.

She advises attendees to write down their intentions before heading to AfroTech, but not vague intentions. Mandela gave us the juice behind how she writes her intentions.

“Beyond your intentions, what I want you to do is, I actually want you to give thanks for receiving those things,” Mandela said (gems).

The CEO explains how aligning yourself with the gratitude frequency will allow you to ultimately attract the opportunities you seek. So chuck the deuces to the “I want” mindset and follow Mandela’s lead by adopting a “Thank you for…” mentality.

Be Prepared Before Drawing Attention

“Do not draw attention to yourself if you are not ready for that attention,” she said.

Make sure you are ready for the attention you may draw. She suggests you do so by cleaning up your social media accounts and LinkedIn profiles before AfroTech.

“Make sure your online personality is legit before you start asking people to follow you,” said Mandela. Word to the wise tighten up your LinkedIn beforehand.

Get Your Uniform Ready

We all know first impressions are lasting, so don’t sleep on your physical presentation.

“For the aspiring business owners, your uniform needs to be, however you want to be seen by other people, and it needs to be intentional,” said Mandela.

Don’t wait until the last minute to pack your outfits and make sure they align with your brand.

Bring Some Swag

Don’t come to AfroTech empty-handed. Bring some swag from your brand that you can give to others to promote your business. However, make sure the quality is up to par.

“I would rather spend money on 30 pieces of swag that are high quality that I can give to 30 people who I feel like are a good fit for my company, than buy 300 pieces of crap swag,” Mandela said.

Practice Your One-liner

Who are you? What do you do? Why should others care? No doubt, you’ll meet tons of fellow entrepreneurs during your time at AfroTech. You want to have your introductory one-liner down packed.

Mandela’s one-liner goes like this: “Hi, my name is Mandela. I’m the CEO and founder of Founder Gym. We are the premier online training center teaching underrepresented founders how to secure the bag.”

Remember, keep it short and to the point.

Don’t Hide

You’ve traveled all the way to Oakland, now is not the time to clam up. Mandela suggests showing up early to the venue to get a front-row seat.

“Do not go to the back row. Don’t punk out on yourself. Don’t punk out on your dreams,” said Mandela.

If you get a front-row seat, you will be in a better position to ask questions, get dope pics, and a better chance to greet the speakers coming off stage.

Study the Speakers

Make sure you study the speakers before you attend their session and during the session.

“Success leaves clues,” Mandela said.

She encourages attendees to not only study what the speaker is saying, but also peep their stage presence, quote arrangements, and audience engagement.

Download the AfroTech App

Stay organized and make sure you map out the sessions you want to attend. The app allows you to see who will be where and when.

Follow Up

“Success is in the follow-through,” shared Mandela.

Follow Mandela’s gem and use the email addresses you’ve collected during your time at AfroTech. She spoke from personal experience of sharing her email with aspiring entrepreneurs stating only two out of every 100 entrepreneurs she gives her email to actually follow up with her.

After you’ve come down from your AfroTech high, be sure to follow up with your connects. Word to the wise, Mandela suggests not being too eager with your followup as your email can fall to the bottom of their inbox.

Final Takeaway

Mandela’s IG takeover gems are a taste of what’s to come as she will be sharing more of her knowledge on the AfroTech entrepreneur stage during her session on Friday. Be sure to come prepared, so you can build your business and get the most out of your AfroTech experience.