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How To Network at Your Local Chamber of Commerce

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How can you make the most of your Chamber of Commerce.

Many of us belong to our local Chambers of Commerce. We can all use tips on how to be effective so when this was sent to me, I decided to publish it. Thanks to the Rensselaer County  Regional Chamber of Commerce located in Troy, New York .

Staff Picks: What is one networking tip you’d like to give chamber members?

Laura Amos, Accounting Assistant: Asking questions and making eye contact will let someone know that you are interested.

 

Debbie O’Donnell, Executive Assistant: Seek out those people who are by themselves and look uncomfortable.  Be prepared with a few standard questions to get the conversation flowing.

 

CJ Harkola, Membership Manager: Be yourself. Join or form a networking group, preferably start with a small group & grow it. While you are growing it, give back to the community!
Kate Ollier, Programs & Events Manager: Be yourself – being genuine is a quality that aligns itself with credibility. The more you’re “You” while still being professional, the more everyone will see you as credible, authentic and a good person to do business with. It will take you far.

 

Stephanie Scully, Controller: Don’t hesitate to talk with other members. They are all terrific.

Ryan Silva, Director of Economic Development & Government Affairs: Ask questions, learn as much as you can about a person you meet at a networking function and always follow up with them


Claudette Thornton, Vice President:
Smile. And remember, everyone is there for the same reason you are. Don’t be afraid!

 

Chyresse Wells, Communications & Marketing Coordinator: Be yourself and ask genuine questions to learn as much about their role within their organization as possible and take note of how you may be able to help them in the future. Don’t forget consistent eye contact, and always smile!

 Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build customer service and sales strategies. She is a member of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce.
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By |2017-03-03T12:07:00-04:00August 16th, 2013|Blog, Networking|0 Comments

Are You Making or Losing Customers?

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Image of a sign that says Help New Customers wantedWithout customers you are out of business, period; if you don’t market to your customers you will lose them. It all makes sense to me, or do I have it wrong?

I went to a women’s group yesterday, sort of a lunch and learn. I spoke with two new business owners who told me they didn’t have a marketing budget. When I asked why they remarked as soon as I get some business I will have money to market. Huh?

I understand that things are tough but things will doubtfully get better for you if you don’t market. Look at it this way. You get a call from a potential customer who asks to see your press kit or your brochures or your testimonials; yes they’re all part of your marketing tools. Or they ask for your business cards and yours aren’t the greatest or consistent with your brochures. Will the customer want you to work for you? I don’t really know but marketing needs to be included in your plan if your business is going to get off the ground.

Despite definitions about what it is, no business can succeed without it. It doesn’t matter where you start, how you do it, you will need relationships to succeed. Relationships with potential customers who want to know you’re professional. You can build them on or off line; it depends on you, whichever works.

Here are some not so simple tips for your marketing that will help you get started.

What do you do that makes you different? Often referred to as your competitive  advantage; according to Jack Welch, if you don’t have one you can’t compete.

This is a good place to start without it you will end up lumped in the field of sameness. Maybe you provide the same services as others; maybe you do it in a different way. That’s what makes you different. So if you’re starting with the 90 second elevator speech starts with the value and then gives your service a name and a category.  Instead of saying you’re a printer, start with the exciting things you’ve made in the past or can make and then say you’re a printer.  Also make whatever you do easy to understand.

You can’t do it all no matter what you think.

Just as customers are trying to decide if you’re the right vendor, you should decide if they’re the right customers. When people start their businesses they think that anyone who walks through the door is their customer. This is the hit or miss, throw some against the wall theory eventually you will get tired of the unprofitable customers. Why not decide upfront who’s profitable and go for them. It will save you time and money.

Select your customers carefully, look for partnerships. Customers are flattered by this approach. Create a checklist of attributes for your partners.

Word of mouth never goes away

Have you customer write why they bought from you on the back of their business card. A simple testimonial goes a long way. Call one customer a day just to keep in touch. Consider at the end of the year that’s 365 customers who have had a personal experience with you. Don’t call for anything other than to see how they are and to update your files. You “one customer” might have a referral for you. Don’t forget to ask for a testimonial while you’re service is still hot.

Use online marketing

I think that businesses are intimidated because they can’t spend money to create the best web site, the best blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts. Nonsense, this is the way you keep yourself from being successful. Start getting involved online; instead of talking to people who haven’t gotten business and think it’s a waste of time talk to those who are doing business. You can be sure your competitors will not talk to you about how much business they’re doing on line. And on line is mostly free. Start a discussion on line or post a question.

I know I’m not the best writer but I believe I have a message that is useful so I plug away at it. For years I was told I couldn’t write and so I didn’t had it edited over and over again. If you’ve got a good message, people will listen.

Quit selling and help people buy

When you truly put your customer’s interests above your own you become a team member, a consultant, a partner for your client.  Help them determine what they really need instead of trying to sell them anything. This is true customer service. Help your customer find other partners that will help them grow; in the process you will find new partners.

Shift the risk to yourself and you will profit

Give the best guarantees possible; the absolute best. Give money back warranties whenever possible.

Be as personal as possible

This is the age of transparency and being personal. Send a handwritten note, a link to your page, or give a free eBook. Why not?

Create free publicity.

Ask people to review your book and post their comments; review an article you’ve written or a fund raiser you’ve hosted! Post surveys of way your customers think about your service or a special award you’ve received. Did you just run a race for charity? You don’t have to win to post you were there supporting the cause. Write articles for magazines in your industry or in your home town. Get the word out.

Integrate your marketing message.

Even if you’re small and can’t afford much, have all your literature create the same message

Whether you are high tech or need to use the shoe leather approach to your marketing, determine the best methods for you to create prospects and build relationships on a regular basis. The main secret of successful marketing to get started , keep  doing something on a regular basis and get yourself in front of the decision makers.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:12-04:00September 19th, 2010|Blog, Networking|3 Comments

Treating Your Customers to a Good “Networking” Time

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About a year ago I was asked to help develop an event for Jack Laurie Home Floor Designs in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Interestingly enough, the idea was to plan a networking event for interior designers, architects other trade people and friends. Usually events seem to be about “selling things” but this was more about helping others build their businesses.
The event was the idea of John Hoffman, general manager of Jack Laurie Home Floor Designs.

"We really appreciate our area interior designers and customers in general," says John. "They create business for us and it would be nice if we could do something to help them grow their business. We see our relationship with our customers as a partnership and we are happy to add a little extra to the relationship. We have been very successful with these events in the past but it’s time to try something new." 

The event, “Using Social Networking to Grow Your Business,” was not only fun but very informative, with lots of chatter and good food, I was also able to introduce my book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 Ways to Heat up Your Business and Ignite Your Sales, and share it with everyone.

One of Jack Laurie Floors’ past events has grown into a yearly event: the pilgrimage to NEOCON in Chicago. John says this is one of their most popular events which everyone loves. Jack Laurie Floors rents two luxury buses and shuttles approximately 100 interior designers to the event. This makes it easy to attend; we play games on the bus, sing, enjoy good food all day and generally have a good time. According to John, "We get to spend time together away from business and get to know each other better. We also discuss what we saw at NEOCON and what we liked and didn’t like. Talking about products helps us know our designers better so we can buy the right samples for their customers."

With the economy suffering, generosity goes a long way. Getting out and meeting people is time consuming as well as difficult to mix in with busy schedules. Combining fun with information is a great double header. This was the basis for their event.

So, do these events really help a business? Everyone seems to thinks so. If nothing else, it pays off in good will and everyone gets a chance to network and meet new people.
I spoke with Phil Troyer, Architect and Owner, PA Troyer Architect, about why he attended this networking event. His response: “You always have to look out for new ways to build your business.”

I was amazed to find Joe Bjerk, COO, Guardian Relocation/Home Moving and Storage with locations in Indianapolis, Ft. Wayne and Columbus at the event. Even though he's not in the flooring industry, Joe told me he was excited to be invited to this event. 

"I got to network and picked up some ideas for marketing my own business," he said.

Planning an event? Take some advice from General Manager, John Hoffman:

  • Know your audience, what they need and what will help them with their business.
  • Don’t forget students from your local design college. This is a great opportunity to get to know them, share information and build new contacts for your store. The college can also provide you with great interior design interns.
  • Have enough staff to talk with all the customers; it’s up to them to meet and greet their guests.
  • Plan a program that’s fun. If it’s too serious it just gets boring.
  • You don’t have to talk about business all the time; this is a good way to get to know people.
  • Invite people with different backgrounds and different needs; mix it up. This makes it more interesting and better networking.
  • Serve good food and drink so your guests feel special. They are special!
  • Get your vendors involved so they can network with your customers.
  • Be sure and follow up with your guests. In the case of Jack Laurie Home Floor Designs, the educational part of the event encouraged them to create a new Facebook fan page; then they emailed all attendees to ask them to become fans.
  • Every business needs customers to grow their business and growing your customer base means putting in time networking both face-to-face and through the Web. If you love your customers, this is a good way to show them.

Pictures from the event!

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For more information on building a networking event, check out:

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:14-04:00March 24th, 2010|Networking|1 Comment

Join Me for Thanksgiving Festivities on Facebook!

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Turkeyfb There's a party happening right now on my Facebook page today and through tomorrow. Call it my "Virtual Thanksgiving Day Festivities," and you're invited!

Come on over and post recipes, share stories of Thanksgivings past, post images and video and connect with your fellow friends. 

I truly hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with your friends, families, neighbors, communities, and anyone else you'll be sharing it with. I'm grateful for knowing you and for all you add to my life.

Now, come on over!

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:15-04:00November 25th, 2009|Networking|0 Comments

Want To Do More Business? Get Out and Attend That Business Networking Event

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As a business consultant, I often talk with business owners and salespeople about the importance of networking: basically getting out and meeting people. Unfortunately many people aren't too positive about the whole idea. They tell me it's a lot of work, that they don’t know what to say and they won’t know anyone at the event. I would agree with a couple of them—it does take work and you might not know anyone. But as Woody Allen once said, "90 percent of success is showing up."  

I guess to win the game you’ve got to be willing to play.

It’s more than just showing up, though. I would say it’s showing up with a purpose. Sometimes things "just happen," like forgetting your umbrella and getting drenched, but maybe that’s not even a "just happen" type of thing. As Dr. Ivan Misner, the Founder & Chairman of BNI, the world's largest business networking organization, put it, "Networking isn’t about netsit or neteat. It’s about network."  

Many of you know or belong to BNI but might not know that last year alone it generated 5.6 million referrals resulting in $2.3 billion dollars worth of business for its members.

Last week, Internet Marketing Inc., located on 1115 Broadway in NYC, with additional offices in Las Vegas, San Diego, and Miami, hosted a networking party at their offices.

Who is Internet Marketing Inc. and what do they do? As they say, "They build, market and manage your online presence. They don’t create proposals and reports, they create and experience and build relations." 

I would call them a company with expertise in the future. I haven’t met everyone, but if the rest of the offices are like the New York one, they do it with excitement, enthusiasm and good will. I recently met Todd Soiefer, President of the Northeast Region, when I was speaking at an event in Princeton, NJ. Speaking about networking, I offered a business consultation as a door prize and guess who won it? Now you know how I wound up speaking at the Internet Marketing event.  What did I speak on? What else: Growing Your Business through Social Networking. 

I consider Todd Soiefer and Nicole Stillings, Senior Marketing Consultant, as masters of networking.  Throughout the night over 60 people stopped in to meet, enjoy some food and spirits as well as each other’s company. 

The event was held at their offices, in Select Office Suites, on the 12th floor and all the businesses in the building were invited as well as clients and friends. Nicole Stillings was in charge of seeing that everyone got to the event and felt welcome. Nicole had mobilized her interns, had them on the phone calling people and seeing that the arriving guests were comfortable while she went off and managed the caterers. It was obvious that Nicole is comfortable making things happen as well as hosting large events.  

"It’s most important for people to feel welcome and comfortable," Nicole says. "We appreciate them coming to join us in making the event successful so we want them to take away what they need. Not everyone is comfortable speaking to strangers so it’s our job to make sure that the event works for everyone." 

After speaking, I took the opportunity to eat some good food and speak with a couple of the guests to see what would bring them out on a rainy, New York night. They came out to meet people and hopefully do business, since this was a serious crowd.  

Drew Franklin, Senior Marketing Manager for ENT and Allergy Associates, LLP (the largest ENT Doctor group), headquartered in Tarrytown, NY, talked about building relationships.



"In order to be pioneers in our business, we have to know what we can do to attract customers," Drew said. "We might be experts in our own field but we have to learn from the experience of leaders in other businesses if we are going to grow."
Drew seemed to enjoy the event and meeting new people. 

Jim Bond, Managing Partner of The Private Travel Group, a company providing customized private jet travel also located in New York City, was of the same opinion. 

"The only way people will want to do business with us is if I can identify and fill their needs," he said. "It takes time to build relationships and the only way it will happen is if I spend time meeting and getting to know other people." 

People were laughing, exchanging cards and really getting acquainted. Interestingly enough there were musicians as well as agents, bankers, investment brokers, teachers, public relations firms and people looking for employment. 

One of the things that was most noticeable was the atmosphere of good will. Even though they say the economy is "challenged" this was definitely a positive place to be. I asked Todd what makes an event like this work and why do it. 

"Everyone is so isolated and over worked that we that we need to have events where people can do business and have fun," Todd says. "Since we talk networking we should walk the walk." 

Todd’s suggestions for a successful event: 

  • Make it simple — not too much to drink or eat, since the purpose is networking. Keep the party moving. The party doesn’t have to be long or elaborate, just inviting and friendly. 
  • When inviting people, consider who would benefit from the event. We like to invite our customers so they can make new contacts and hopefully do business from the event.  
  • Vary the age group and the experience level of the guests, this way people get to meet people they wouldn’t ordinarily meet. 
  • Hosting a face-to-face networking party is part of building your online presence. It’s important to take pictures and/or videos and then connect them to your social networking sites. Put out a tweet or two so people will know what you’re doing. 

"The most important thing for us," Todd adds, "is to keep the buzz going. We are an internet marketing company; we need to show our customers how traditional networking events paired with social online marketing can help grow their business. They need to be comfortable with the social networking tools that we provide for them. This is a good way to show them we know how to talk-the talk and walk –the-walk." 

Exactly!

Check out the recap of the event on Internet Marketing Inc.'s blog, which includes the below video they shot of my presentation.

Enjoy!

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:15-04:00October 20th, 2009|Networking|0 Comments

You Never Know Where the Next Best Idea is Going to Come From

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Dollarbillorigami2 In Search of New Sources of Revenue

Like many of you, I am working harder than ever to maintain the level of business this year versus last. As I work on the core of my business – consulting, training, writing books, etc. – I am always searching for new revenue streams.  Who isn’t looking to make more money?  

My search led me to look into the field of direct selling. I know what you’re thinking: "What’s Lis gone off and done now?"  Hear me out.  

Direct selling, also known as multilevel marketing (MLM), is sometimes confused with what people call "pyramid schemes." According to my research, although seemingly the same, direct selling and pyramid schemes are very different.  By definition pyramid schemes rarely involve a product of value. The income from a pyramid scheme comes primarily from the recruiting of other associates.   On the other hand, multi-level marketing is a marketing strategy that compensates promoters not only for product sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of others they introduced to the company. With multilevel marketing, you can continue to make money by selling the product even if you never recruit another person.

The products and company are usually marketed directly to consumers and potential business partners by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing, basically another form of retail marketing. In a 2007 Wall Street Journal interview, economist Peter Vander Nat stated, "If people are buying because they want to use a company’s products, those sales can count as retail. So now I'm wondering is, could network marketing simply be another retail business without a store?

The most recognized MLM businesses have been Amway, Avon Products and Tupperware, to name a few.  These days, you see MLM businesses for all kinds of products and services.  Health and wellness is a huge MLM segment (think Herbalife, Melaleuca, etc.).  The majority of direct sales companies use a compensation plan where the seller is paid not only for their own sales, but also a percentage of the sales of other representatives they introduced into the organization and helped train.  The key to success in any MLM business is in duplicating a system and then leveraging that system through the work of other associates on your team.  You do not need to be successful sales professional to be successful in direct selling. 

The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations reports that its 59 regional member associations accounted for more than US $114 billion in retail sales in 2007, through the activities of more than 62 million independent sales representative. The United Sates Direct Selling Association reported that in 2000, 55% of adult Americans had at some time purchased goods or services from a direct selling representative and 20% reported that they were currently (6%) or had been in the past (14%) a direct selling representative.

You can see why the multi-level marketing industry has experienced growth in each of the last 20 years.  I can’t think of any other industry that can say the same.

The second part of this recipe for success involves the explosion of the Internet.  Every day over 100 million videos are viewed on YouTube.  In the last 5 seconds, 10 million emails have been sent! According to a New York Times article, overall, 57 percent of Internet use was devoted to communications like e-mail, instant messaging and chat rooms, and 43 percent for other activities including Web browsing, shopping and game playing. Users reported that they spent 8.7 percent of their Internet time playing online games. I guess what it says is that people are online.

Direct selling has seen entrance into the world of email, video and the video email business.

What’s next? Stay tuned for my experience with direct selling  and new technology. 
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By |2017-03-03T12:07:17-04:00June 27th, 2009|Networking, Success|0 Comments

A Homecoming Can Be All That You Make It and More

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CN-liz1 Several weeks ago I was invited to speak at Carpet Network’s Homecoming 2009 in San Antonio, TX. Carpet Network is a shop-at-home franchise founded in the early 90s by Christine and Lenny Rankin. At the time they had a very successful floor covering store and decided to take their concept to the next level. It was obvious to Chris that it was often difficult for customers to make decisions in the store. It was much easier when the customer looked at the products in their own home. "With that," says Chris, "the shop-at-home concept that was to be Carpet Network was born."

CN-liz2 Chris continues. "At the time, when retail stores are struggling to survive, our mobile concept is booming. Our state-of-the art Unicell vans allow our customers to view thousands of carpet, floor and window covering selections from the comfort of their homes or business."

Just a note about franchised business, they are successful for one main reason: they have a proven system in place. There is no question McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts have survived because of their systems.  Franchise businesses have a failure rate of only 25% within the first five years, and traditional businesses have a failure rate of about 80%. It’s the system that works. By buying a franchise you are buying into a set system of rules and regulations that have been tested and work.

Fiesta Time!

CN-liz3 So, what better place to hold a “homecoming” but in San Antonio during Fiesta time. A local nonprofit group or military organization sponsors every one of the 107 official Fiesta events of 2009. Fiesta is one of America’s truly great festivals. It began as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto. For over 100 years Fiesta has celebrated the diversity and culture of San Antonio.

The theme of Homecoming 2009 for Carpet Network was all about how franchisee members could take advantage of new ways to build their business. Social networking with Facebook and Blogging spurred much great discussion. Facebook seems to be a way of communicating for everyone these days — including the Fiesta — with their page hosting hundreds of comments as well as information on events.  With golf events, carnival, great food and music, San Antonio at Fiesta is a wonderful place for a convention. 

CN-liz4 Speaking of social networking, Lenny Rankin, CEO of Carpet Network, gave some interesting facts on social media*.

  • 85% of Americans believe a company should not only be present via social media but also interact with its consumers.
  • 60% of Americans interact with companies on a social medial web site, and one in four interacts more than once a week.
  • 56% of American consumers feel both a strong connection with and better serviced by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.

Of course no business event is compete without its stars. Dave Fitzwater was chosen for the President’s Award, Carpet Network’s highest achievement.  I had the opportunity to talk with Dave and get his thoughts about Carpet Network’s mobile business and why they are so effective. Here's what he said:

  • The ability to go to the customer is key. You don’t have to wait for the customer to come to your place; you have been invited to theirs. It’s important to be professional and organized.
  • Without a storefront your overhead is greatly reduced. Having a well-equipped mobile showroom is just as effective as a brick and mortar business.
  • People get connected to the person with the products. Not the products or the storefront—but the person. Often times this gets misinterpreted by salespeople. They push their products instead of building their own credibility.
  • You must have good training and support from your home office. Having a good franchise behind you keeping up with trends and providing good back up is key.  

Great weather, wonderful town and great people; what could be better?

Resources


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By |2017-03-03T12:07:17-04:00June 16th, 2009|Networking, Reaching the Consumer, Success|2 Comments

A Smokin’ Good Time

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So what are 200 men — paying $150.00 each — doing at the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany, NY on a Thursday night? You got it, smoking good cigars, eating great food, talking with friends and getting a shave!

Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe's annual Habanapalooza event was so big that it had to be hosted in the huge Washington Avenue Armory. Guests received cigars, amazing food as well as raffles and door prizes. I caught up with chef Carmine from the eponymous Carmine's to gush over his chicken dish. I was hoping to get a doggy bag but there was nothing left at the end of the night. More spectacular food from Lo Porto and Yono's.

Carmine The event was hosted by Scott Bendett, owner of Scott Pipes and Cigars. I caught up with Scott and asked what the purpose of the event was. His reply was, "These are my customers who have stood by me all these years and I love having them all here."

Scott talks about the "old days" when, 13 years ago, he started the Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe with 15 boxes of cigars in a cart in Colonie Center. Today, Scott not only has two locations in the Capital District but is a leader in the cigar industry.

"What did it take to get where you are?" I ask Scott. "A lot of hard work and loyal customers," he says. Scott is also proud to have been voted the best cigar store by Times Union, Metroland and Capital Region Living. Scott has at least 15 events scheduled through the next two months. He also hosts a weekly radio show, The Good Life, on Paul Vandenburgh's TALK 1300 AM on Saturdays at 1:00 PM.

Okay, so what was I doing there? I don't get to go to cigar events that often, but I do have a favorite place
in Oklahoma City called Makers Cigar and Piano Lounge, where they also have good music
and cognac. My client, Sim’s Barbershop, was asked to provide complementary shaves to the guests at the show. Armed with lots of product, two barber chairs, and lots of good humor, owners Greg Zorian, Steve Vilot and barber Jill Sbrega start the shaves and the fun begins.  Greg and Steve love to do what they call their "extreme shaving" — shaving any place any time. Men have been shaved on ski slopes, golf courses, race tracks and at Habanapalooza. I have to admit, not having attended this type of function, I was unaware of male camaraderie. Sure, sporting events are one thing— though I wonder if maybe this is a sporting event.
Shave1
According to Greg and Steve, getting out of the shop is a way to build business and get to know new people. Greg's been in the barber business since he was 14 and says "Men love to have a place of their own to get pampered just like women. High-end barbershops have never been out of style, there just aren't many of them."

With business tight, networking is a solid way to add to your customer base.

  • If you want to make new friends and get new customers, you have to get out of your place of business.
  • Be different, have fun and give value. What's value? It's more than the customer would ever expect.
  • Be willing to partner with other businesses. These don’t have to be aligned businesses, just good businesses that provide great service and are willing to share their customer base.
  • Remember that in order to get, you have to give. Be willing to get out and invest in your community.  Greg, Steve, and Scott are huge supporters of their local chambers and attend as many functions as possible.

I interviewed many guests and asked the question: why come here? The answers were almost always the same: good food, a good cause and good friends.

I guess it can’t get much better that.

Resources

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:17-04:00June 9th, 2009|Networking|0 Comments

Want to Give Back to Your Community? Try Your Local Chamber of Commerce

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Commerce What do you know about your Chamber and how often do you go? I’m guilty of not participating; many reasons but my excuse is  because of my travel schedule which changes every week. Like many other small businesses, we are lucky enough to get our health insurance through our chamber and that’s where it ends. I decided it was time for me to “give something back” and get involved. Many of you have business expertise that would be valuable to others, how about contacting your chamber and share that expertise.

Since I knew I would be home the month of April I called Katherine Burbank, Executive Director, Guilderland Chamber of Commerce and talked with her about providing a presentation for the members.  We came up with Tough Times Require Tough Strategies, an hour presentation with ideas for expanding business during the  present business climate. The  focus was on social networking, building a competitive advantage and providing an unforgettable experience for the customers. I offered a free business consultation as a door prize. Of course I brought magazines from Fabulous Floors  and biodegradable golf tees; Can’t forget the importance of green. 

With plenty of publicity from Cyndy Myers, Member Services Coordinator, the idea was born. The next thing I knew I had a new gig!

The Guilderland Chamber maintains maintains a membership of approximately 600 businesses, and strives to help their members succeed and grow. The Chamber also promote community life in the area and partners with schools, towns and other organizations that promote the areas.

Social-networking I did a little research on the history of the chambers. It seems the Chamber of Commerce of the 21st century is constantly evolving but the first  chamber was founded in Charleston, South Carolina in 1773.  The early associations were organized to protect and promote commerce in their areas. The chamber was set up to protect and develop programs for its members, Today the modern Chamber of Commerce  can no longer just ask its members, "What do you want your chamber to do?"  Instead, it needs to ask, "What kind of a community do we want ours to be?" If something is to happen in a community, much of it can be fueled by the chamber of commerce members—but it takes a big commitment. The basic mission of the chamber of commerce is to create and promote a climate where business can operate in a productive and profitable manner. So the members are the chamber and it’s up to us to make things happen.

I loved it! Everyone seemed interested, I met lots of new people and got plenty of emails. Everyone was excited and seemed very involved with the chamber and each other.. The winner of the free consultation was Greg Zorian from Sims, a high-end barbershop with multiple locations. I am going to pay a visit to Sims this week and see what events we might promote to develop business. I can’t wait to go up and "learn the barbershop business."

I spoke with Chairperson, Roger Lipera, from Roger Lipera Web Design & Consulting, after the event. Roger is very active in the chamber and obviously has committed lots of time and expertise, “ Making the chamber work is important to the growth of the community says Roger, without the members participation it would never work." Roger has plenty of enthusiasm and knowledge I felt energized after our conversation.

I received good wishes from Cyndy who was not able to attend. Katherine seemed genuinely pleased with the turnout and was already looking at another event. "Lisbeth's workshop on Web 2.0 was the most well-attended and captivating workshop our chamber has held in a long time," she said. "It shows the importance of the web and how businesses need to be able to interface with their customers in this era."

I was surprised to see an article about the presentation in Spotlight newspapers in the days following.

What can you do for you community? Just get moving!

  • Take an interest in your city or your town and become part of the solution. These days we all need to invest in the changing of our country.
  • Support others in the chamber, seek their advice, recommend them to others and use their services when possible. We all come with our own associations and are not comfortable changing what works but we can still help others network.
  • Help your chamber grow, talk about it and  get others to realize the value of belonging. Remember when people consider moving to an area one of the first places they contact is the local chamber of commerce. 
  • Take a major role if you can. I spent several years on the Board of Albany Executives and learned so much about my capabilities as well as what we were able to accomplish as a networking group both locally and nationally.
  • Take a stand; we all have our times when we "let others do it." Remember if we all do it, it gets done for all!

Well I’m hooked, what's next? We’ll see. 

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:17-04:00April 30th, 2009|Networking|2 Comments

Keep On Top of Industry Trends at Surfaces 2009

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Once again, Surfaces 2009 is just around the corner! This year, interactive technology makes it so much easier for you to organize yourself before the show. The digital brochure (an incredible piece of software engineering, I must say) can be downloaded to your phone, and you can make appointments online. As usual, Carol Wilkins, Conference Manager, is as cool as a cucumber; I don’t know how she does it but I’m sure she enjoys what she does and has a genuine appreciation for all of those who take part in the show.

The seriousness of the economy is evident in the seminars and events as well as the first-ever General Session, entitled "Prevailing Through the Current Crisis – An Industry Wake-Up Call," scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 3, 8:30 am – 10:00 am in the Palazzo Ballroom at the Venetial Hotel. Keith Campbell, Chairman, Mannington Mills, will provide the welcome and opening remarks, with sponsorship provided by the Floor Covering Institute and Affluent Insights, benefiting the Floor Covering Industry Foundation.

Why go? Sure everyone is worrying about business, but Surfaces gives us all the opportunity to network within our industry, look at new product introductions, bring yourselves up to speed on the trends, and talk with industry experts. Don’t forget to pick up tons of literature for your salespeople—there’s plenty of information to keep them on the cutting edge.

I know for myself, I also feel a sense of pride to belong to an industry that is so innovative and exciting.

Oh, and come join me for my two seminars!

Less Stress – More Success: Balancing Your Personal and Professional Life
Tuesday, Feb 3, 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Working hard has gotten you where you are today, but without balance or boundaries you can cause irreparable damage to your health. Learn ten proven ways to manage and balance your priorities without getting burned out.

Cashing In On What Makes You Different
Wednesday, Feb 4, 8:00-9:30 a.m.
Being successful in business is no gamble. Instead it requires careful planning with a deliberate agenda to stay competitive in challenging times. Learn how to strategically build loyal customers that will buy from you—not your competitors. A must-attend seminar for any small business owner.

What will you take away from the seminars? Competitive strategies designed to get you and your business through these trying times. If you need more information on my seminars, shoot me an email or leave me a comment! They'll also be recorded so you can take them home with you. (See the Surfaces Education e-mailer here.)

Hope to see you there!

Click below to listen to my Surfaces 2009 introduction, highlighting what's in store.

Stripe not working? Click here instead.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:18-04:00January 27th, 2009|Networking|3 Comments