Category Archives: opportunities

here comes the……….’wedding expo’

April 9, 2011 there will be a phenomenal wedding expo at the Holiday Inn/Carol Stream ...call 630.665.3325 for infoSo I said to my chamber board, “Board? In tough economic times, people are still spending alot of money on WEDDINGS. May I put together a wedding expo at which our members can showcase their businesses?” The board said to go for it, and we’ve been planning the April 9, 2011 ‘the wedding expo’ ever since.

Yeah, we’ve picked the ‘colors’ and the graphic and already have vendors lined up. We offer our chamber members opportunities to be:sponsors, vendors, exhibitors, taste-test sponsors, or flyer sponsors. And there is always that volunteer op which builds relationships with other members.

Have you heard of a Man-cave? Sure, there are guys who have turned their basements into a “Boys Only” area…or should it be called “area-that-only-boys-want-to-enter”? What does this have to do with a wedding expo? We will have an area nearby so that brides-to-be can BRING their men without boring their men. They can be in the MAN-CAVE which is down the hall, able to be reached for important consultation on a wedding decision. Or not.

Why would an engaged female want to attend? The atmosphere will have them IN THEIR GLORY…it’s all about THEM. They can choose many items on their TO-DO list and check them off after this event.

Giveaways, vendors, food, fashion show, focus on the bride — a perfect venue to visit for the bride and her friends!

What is your favorite piece or feature of this type of event? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Chamber members and prospects….if you could benefit from this exposure…visit the website and say “I DO!” — fill out the Exhibitor Application for “the wedding expo” at the Holiday Inn in Carol Stream.

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Get With It — They Did!

It was a new event, never done before. They came. They learned. They won. Networking 2.0: Social Media Face 2 Face MeetUp on October 6th presented by the Carol Stream Chamber of Commerce was a success. It succeeded on several levels, not just as an ‘After Hours’ type event.

This uniquely designed event was meant to let all worlds collide: chamber members, LinkedIn contacts, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. What did they do in the two hour time period?

Checking in at the registration table, each attendee was given a blue lanyard and a nametag. Attendees could paper-punch their business card, to let it hang from the lanyard around their neck. They proceeded to the next ‘station’ where I explained a bit about QR codes. Had they seen one? What were their uses? Want to generate one?

And generate they did!!! Using the QR code generator on the http://zxing.appspot.com/generator/ they entered their contact info. Those with Smartphones downloaded Barcode Reader apps and a demo was done to show how effective this way. See, when they entered their contact info in the ‘form’, it generated a QR code. Right-click, copy, paste to Word doc and PRINT ..and..voila!! This cute, unique-to-them squiggle-box-shape contained their contact info. All they had to do was the old-school CUT and PASTE onto the back of their biz card hanging from the lanyard and they were ready to share with others.

I’d like to think this is a “GREEN” biz card exchange. By the way, we did the non-green biz card exchange, too. They dropped a card into each of the 40 ‘french-fry-cardboard-containers’ and while they were networking, our staff gathered and rubber-banded them. On the way out they each had a neat stack of everyone’s info who attended.

But there was more before they left. Oh, yes, there was food and soda included in the $10 fee, but more importantly there were two distinct opportunities for them to take advantage of.

SOCIAL MEDIA – Dana Plazyk/No Excuses Mobile Marketing and Heidi Thorne/Thorne Communications were on hand, ready to answer those burning questions, such as “I have NO idea why, how or when to use Social Media” and “Ok, I’m trying it, now what???” Both SoMe gurus, Dana and Heidi gave one-on-one attention to those who needed it.

ACCELERATED NETWORKING, OUR WAY – We do it at our ‘Business Before Hours’ and we did it here: face-to-face networking. This is how it works:
Two lines are formed, facing each other, taking care that each person is lined up with just one across from them. A ‘noise’ is made (could be a yell, whistle, bell, etc) and the right side line begins their 45 sec. infomercial. Yes, they say their name, company, what they do and what is a good lead for them. Always repeating their name and company at the end, the ‘noise’ is made again and the opposite, or left line begins their spiel. After another 45 seconds and another ‘noise’, the movement is initiated. Resembling the Ice Capades or Rockettes portion where the last in line fervently tries to catch up with the line, one person on the end ‘drops off’ and goes the the head of the line, with everyone shifting over one person. And thus it begins again. Effective? Heck, yes. Noisy? You got it. Valuable? Absolutely.

Will we hold the Networking 2.0 event again? DING-DING-DING!!!!!!!

STRONG LEADS, REFERRALS, NEW BUSINESS, OH MY!

The Carol Stream Chamber kicks off ROCS! Leads Group this week, Jan 20th at Augustino’s.

A lead by any name is still a lead!

Or is it?

What do you do to get new business? How do you reach out to companies that could benefit from your products or services? Who is that ‘gatekeeper’ and why won’t she let you talk to the ‘Big Kahuna?’

It is definitely the challenge of most business professionals to reach way down, deep into their souls, down to their toes and come up with ways to grow their business.

What do you have to offer that sets you apart from others in your field? Be ‘known” as the one who goes that extra mile, offers a quirky item or service to your customers that endears you to them. A local auto business thanks their patrons with a note on the invoice, a thank you card, and candy with a giveaway — a holder for your auto documents in the glovebox that is easy to spot. It’s more than giveaways, which are also a plus to most — it’s the extra caring and kind words that bring repeat customers.

Do you help others? Are you able to connect business colleagues in another field with one in need? In “The Go-Giver”, Bob Burg and John David Mann tell a story of a man seeking success. He’s at a desperate point, the end of the quarter, and he needs to GET, GET, GET more sales–he’s a real ‘Go-Getter’. But when he happens upon a wise man who points out the benefits in giving, rather than receiving, he is in for a life-changing lesson.

Do people know how good your product is? Do you give ‘free samples’? Years ago, I was in local craft shows, selling home-cooked caramels. Making samples, however small, was nearly as time-consuming as cutting and wrapping the real thing. But people, who had no pre-conceived notion to buy, would happen upon my display, take a free sample (who can turn down a FREE SAMPLE??), and declare that they needed to buy a bag! Bingo! Does a free sample of your product reach out, draw in, tantalize, and seal the deal? For many, this is a successful venture.

Getting your business’ name ‘out there’ front-and-center to prospects can be key. Partnering with others in associated industries and joining in on cold-calling, presentations or even some forms of advertising can be a way to think outside the box to cut costs and open doors.

You’ve heard the list of groups to join — local business associations, your town’s chamber, the next town’s chamber, the gym. Being a part of an organization, even socially, brings you to meet others with whom you have a common bond. When you bond on a different level or subject matter other than business, relationships form, trust ‘happens’ and business can follow. Now, if you sell steel for a living, and you’ve joined a knitting club, you may be stretching it a bit, but you get my drift.

Your luncheon or “After Hours” events at the local chamber afford great, warm networking opportunities. More formal leads groups take the networking and kick it up a notch. Whether it be a national organization such as BNI or LeTip, or a group of community businesses who band together, focusing on quality leads for your group-mates helps grow their business, while they do the same for you. The frequent meetings — weekly or every other week — benefit all by the repetition of the ‘elevator speeches’. You get to know and understand exactly what the other members of the group have to offer and you are able to, pardon the term, regurgitate it, when you run across someone in need of their type of product or service. The one ‘in need’ is happy they have been helped; the group-mate is ecstatic that they receive a solid referral for business. Win, win, win! It is a reflection on you. You win, too.

Whatever your plan of attack, best of luck as you forge forward and do what needs to be done to grow YOUR business.

2010: 365 Days…Starting…NOW!

Is 2010 a new decade or just a New Year? Different people have different opinions on that topic. Whatever you decide, I hope you’ll decide to make 2010 a great one. What will you do with your 52 weeks – your 365 days – 8766 hours? Is it just me or do the days, weeks and months fly by faster than they used to? We cannot get back yesterday or a great day we had last year; we can just make the most of today…and tomorrow.

How will you make the most of this year when it comes to business? Will you vow to be more organized, spend more time with family, improve follow-up on leads, seize opportunities you have otherwise taken a pass on?

Realizing the economic situation affects most of us, how do you view your chamber membership? Do you look at the luncheons as the most efficient 1.5 hours you can spend per month? Do you check out the chamber advertising and sponsorships and consider them when planning your year? Are you taking full advantage of the free online resources and free Business After Hours and Ribbon Cuttings?

What will 2010 bring? Speaking for the Carol Stream Chamber, I can tell you it brings some new and unique opportunities. Watch for Member Benefits such as the new Mobile Alerts, a Leads Group beginning, a Candidates’ Night and a ‘meeting’ to help introduce you to ‘power partners’ and beneficial connections. We continue our Chamber Video Opportunity, New/Prospective Member gatherings and multiple Expos, so that you can have the chance to meet others, learn from others, and build your business through others.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season, new decade…or not!