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Networking For Your Small Business 

Being a small business owner can mean long hours and taking on many different roles, especially when starting out. For many small business leaders juggling it all, the thought of networking on top of all the others things to do is too much. Networking is, however, a great way to generate leads, stay up-to-date on trends in the industry, and gain helpful hints or creative ideas. 

According to a survey sponsored by American Express, 9 out of 10 Americans agreed that it was important to support the small businesses in their community, and 73% consciously tried to do just that. The people around you want you to succeed – they want to book your services. But they can’t do that if they don’t know about you! And that’s where it helps to network in your own community.

Here are several ideas of how to make networking seem like less of a chore and to get the word out about your business. 

Commit to Local Networking Groups

Whether it is a monthly breakfast meeting or a bi-monthly coffee-house get together, commit to attending these networking gatherings on a regular basis. It is a great way to start to meet other small business owners in your area as well as people within your industry. If your time is extremely limited, be sure to research which local organizations you want to take part in. Even just participating in an industry-specific organization, small business associations, or your local chamber of commerce can be beneficial for your business.

Attend Conferences 

In addition to meeting other professionals in your area and industry, you may also want to expand your networking by attending conferences that are industry specific. Conferences are a great time to catch up with people in your field who are influencers or innovators as well as solidify friendships with local or regional professionals in your field. 

Exhibit at a Trade Show 

Once you get more experience networking with local businesses and industry specific businesses, you may want to exhibit your services or products at a trade show. Don’t forget to bring your business cards and a partner to talk up your business with attendees. 

Volunteer in Your Community 

One of the best ways to make genuine connections with other small businesses and potentially clients in your area is to take part in some form of community outreach. The level at which you decide to volunteer depends on your schedule, but check out local charities or nonprofits that could use your expertise and provide some pro-bono work to not only feel good but to make connections that are meaningful. 

If you need further ideas on networking and connecting with your local community, check out the small business association for more helpful hints. Also check out our calendar of events for great workshops and networking opportunities. 

 

Getting Free Press 

As a small or medium-sized business, you know the power of getting your name out there whether it is on social media, in the news, or by word-of-mouth. Whatever the method, your business’s name being mentioned or your brand being shown can help boost sales and make your brand awareness skyrocket. 

Unfortunately, many small businesses, and even some medium-sized businesses, don’t have a huge advertising budget when they are new. So, how can those companies get free press to give their marketing a kickstart? Finding free press is the answer! 

Getting free press sounds like a dream come true, and it really is. But you have to work at it for it to work for you. Let’s take a look at a couple of strategies that your business can use to get some free press and get your name out there. 

Make Yourself an Expert 

Contact publication in your local area, as well as publications that are known in your field and offer up your services for quotes or articles that they may want for their journals. Sure, you will have to take the time to connect and write but it can be worth it when your name and your company’s name is the news. 

 

Create Your Own Press Releases 

Write your own press releases whenever there’s a newsworthy occasion in your business. Any new products/services, anniversaries, milestones, or special occasions can be a cause for writing up a news release. Send it to the contact pages of your local papers, news outlets, and journals for your specific field. 

 

Engage with Reporters 

As you get more involved with the community and community events, you will also get to know the news reporters at said events. Make personal connections and tell them about your business. This is especially true if you are planning any community events or taking part in any volunteer work in the local area. 

Be a Guest Blogger 

Many online business sites request guest bloggers to add content to their site. Find the sites in your field and ask to be a guest blogger. If the site gets enough traffic, you could get your name and your brand out there for the cost of writing a blog about what your company is up to. 

Need more ideas on ways to get your name out there? Check out our calendar for marketing ideas that can boost your business. 

 

Assembling a Great Management Team

If you have seen the Marvel Avengers franchise’s latest installment, End Game, (and, let’s face it, millions of you have seen it) then you know what a powerful, efficient, and productive team looks like. Your business team may not have Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk or any of the other members of the Avengers, but you probably have just as diverse a group that you are trying to mold into a great management team. Let’s take a look at some of the methods and qualities you will want to encourage in your management team.

Focus on Roles

One of the first things a small or medium-sized business owner may want to do is to define which positions are needed for a business to thrive. Make it a goal to hire with those specific needs in mind. Each person should have a particular specialty instead of just a general business resume. Look for someone who will fill a particular need and add a little something extra to your team, like fitting the pieces of the jigsaw together. Just like each member of the Avengers has special gifts or powers, your management team should be stacked with people who have something unique or specialized about them as well.

Excellent Communication

For a team to work well together, there should be multiple channels of communication, depending upon the project or work being done. For example, team members should be able to communicate on an informal level on channels such as Slack, or in more formal ways such as during presentations, client meetings, or emails. Look for team members who possess excellent communication skills and, if you are lucky, you may find people who communicate so well that they can intrinsically coordinate with other team members and anticipate needs.

Goal Seekers

Management teams should always be striving toward a goal, whether it is long-term or short-term. Arrange regular check-ins and meetings to determine whether goals are being met or if they need to be adjusted in any way. This will go hand-in-hand with communication between your team members.

 

Build Rapport

Teams don’t just come together and work seamlessly in unison. It takes time and nurturing for teams to hit their stride – even Captain America and Iron Man haven’t always seen eye-to-eye! Create a culture in your office where team members can get to know one another on different levels. Help them celebrate successes and milestones together, either business or personal. And when there is a failure, talk about it as a team without laying blame on any one person’s feet. The culture you create can help your team grow and learn together. If you are lucky, they will support each other to take calculated risks or get creative when the need arises.

Want to know more about building a great management team one that will rival the Avengers (ok not really)? Consider attending some of our seminars such as, “What Do You Need for a Management Team to Be Successful?”

Networking: Benefits and Opportunities

Whether you own a small business, medium-sized business or a large corporation, business networking is an integral part of growing your company and seeing that it is successful. Building a lucrative business takes a lot of time and drive, so it’s good to have a network of friends and associates to draw energy from and keep you going. What is even better, is to have connections within your industry when things go wrong and you need advice from someone who has been there before. Networking can provide these things and more. Let’s take a look at the benefits of business networking and what potential opportunities abound in a networking event.

  • Referrals – When attending a networking meeting or event, there are always opportunities for referrals. Through word-of-mouth, leads can be filtered in your direction and eventually, those leads can turn into clients.
  • Connections – If the business leader is motivated, this form of marketing can mean you gain a great source of connections in your industry and in industries that work with yours. This can come in handy when you need simple advice or when you need help building and growing your company.
  • Raising Your Profile – With regular attendance at social gatherings and networking events, other business people will begin to recognize you and your brand. Sharing your information and talking about your company is a great way of building a name for yourself as well as increasing your reputation.
  • Sharing Knowledge – Many small and medium sized businesses need “a village” to get off the ground. These meetings are a perfect place to ask questions and share knowledge of the struggles and successes related to your specific industry or company.

BLS Provider CPR (1-day Initial or Renewal Course, multiple sessions available)

(Initial or Renewal Course based on the 2015 AHA Guidelines)
Basic Life Support (BLS) is the foundation for saving lives after cardiac arrest. This course teaches both single-rescuer and team basic life support skills for application in both in-facility and prehospital settings. This course is designed for healthcare professionals and other personnel who need to know how to perform CPR and other basic cardiovascular life support skills.

In addition, BLS training can be appropriate for first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, as well as for laypeople whose work brings them into contact with members of the public, such as school, fitness center, or hotel and restaurant employees.

Students must pass a written exam and skills test in order to qualify for a BLS Course Completion Card.
Upon successful completion of this course, students will receive a completion cad valid for 2 years.

Conveniently scheduled on Saturday, please choose the session that works best for you.

REGISTER NOW!

Productive Business Networking

Business networking can be a valuable strategy to: get referrals, connect with prospective partners/clients, gather insights on innovation in your field or merely expose your name or brand.  Unfortunately networking can be overwhelming meeting new people, keeping up with conversations and making those connections convert into customers.  Here are some tips to make the most of your networking events.

Before the Event –

  • Gather your supplies including business cards, pens, paper and any marketing brochures you could refer to if the conversation leans in that direction.
  • Know your goals prior to heading into the networking event.  Do you hope to gather names of prospective clients?  Do you want to nurture an existing relationship?
  • Know the audience – Find out who will be attending the event through the online RSVP list so you know what to expect.
  • Remember the dress code.  Professional business attire is usually expected to give a positive impression unless there is a specific theme or location that lends itself to a different dress code.  (golf, harbor cruise)

At the Event

  • Check out the registration table for names that you may want to connect with.  If you are nervous, look for familiar names to start off with to break the ice.
  • Smile!
  • Keep your hands free for shaking hands.  If there is food available you may want to keep eating brief so you can talk freely and have your hands available to shake hands or distribute business  cards.
  • Have a list of topics to refer to if conversations fade.  Be interested and use active listening when part of a conversation.
  • Hand out and gather those cards!  The back of the cards can be used to keep notes on each person. (That may have to happen in the car after the event.)
  • Be confident.  Speak clearly and rely on your confidence to guide you through conversations.
  • Be genuine.  People can tell when you are putting on an act.  So be yourself and speak from the heart.

After the Event

  • Debrief after the event. This may mean writing up notes on items of interest or questions you may have promised to get answered.
  • Follow up – Use those business cards you carefully gathered and follow through with an email or phone call. If you live locally an in-person meeting over coffee may be in order.
  • Connect through social media. Find people that you connected with on LinkedIn or other social media to stay in touch.
  • Enter contacts. Put all new contacts in your list at the office.

Common Presentation Mistakes

A great business presentation can inspire, inform and call a group to action.  Unfortunately, a poorly planned and executed presentation can bore and annoy an audience to the point of harming your brand image or possibly tarnishing your good reputation. What are the most common pitfalls during a presentation and how can you avoid them? Let’s look at the most common mistakes presenters can make.


Lack of Preparation
– The single biggest mistake in giving a presentation is lack of practice. The adage practice makes perfect stands true here.  Practice with colleagues who can give you honest feedback.  Practice in front of a mirror to gauge your facial expressions and body language.  And finally, practice in anticipation of audience questions.  Make sure you know your topic well enough to go off script and answer detailed questions about your content.  During practice sessions be sure to make eye contact, speak clearly and have the ability to give the presentation without the use of your slides to guide you.

Not knowing the audience – Whether your audience is an intimate group of 20 or a large corporate group of 200, know the audience.  Do some research on your audience. Why are they here? How much do they already know about your topic, and what do they most want to learn from you?  Talking far above or far below their comprehension level can create confusion or boredom.

Content Mistakes – There are several content mistakes that you will want to avoid.  Data or content overload is fairly common with speakers that are passionate about their topic.  Use visuals and anecdotal stories to help get information across instead of overloading the audience with data and bullets on your slides.  In addition, know your content well enough that you do not read directly from the slides.  Many speakers who do this leave the audience wondering why they just didn’t print off the slides and skip the presentation altogether.  Finally do not overload your audience with “takeaways.”  Studies show that audiences lose focus after three points.

Technology Mistakes – Most technology problems occur because of a lack of planning.  Check and recheck with your venue about equipment and technology set up.  Familiarize yourself with the room, technology and equipment far in advance if at all possible.  Spend a little extra money and have many different connectors at your disposal “just in case.” Check lighting, sound and layout of the room prior to your presentation.

Slides and Media Mistakes – Choose your slides and visual content carefully.  If it doesn’t enhance what you are saying then remove the slide.  Too many flashy visuals or pictures can detract from your overall message.  Choose a pleasing color palette and whenever possible choose custom pictures instead of stock photography.  Make it unique and show off your company’s personality in your visuals.