Posts Tagged ‘networking’

Regional Business Survey: KC Business Activity Growing – Along With Uncertainty

August 30, 2011

August 30, 2011

David Albrecht, Director, International Programs & Business Research

Well, another six months have come and gone, leaving the latest iteration of The Chamber’s Regional Business Survey bobbing in their wake. As always, the results make for interesting reading, assuming you’re someone willing to devote at least a small chunk of your free time to digging into the percentages.

Two trends stand out in the latest report. First is improvement in current business activity reported by survey participants. This growth hasn’t exactly been explosive over the grand total of five surveys since we kicked off the program back in the summer of 2009. It has, however, been quite encouraging. Two years ago, 40.3% of participating businesses characterized their business activity as “Strong” or “Very Strong.” In the most recent survey, over 57% chose one of these two categories, and these combined totals have increased survey over survey for two years now. Clearly, at least for some Kansas City companies, things are looking up.

At the same time, uncertainty hangs over the survey like fog over the Golden Gate Bridge. When asked whether economic growth in the region was heading in the right or wrong direction, a narrow plurality this time around chose Option Three – “Not Sure” – to the tune of 46.1%. The most popular choice among six alternatives for those asked to name the “Most Immediate Problem for Business” was “Unpredictability of Business Conditions.” And nowhere did business uncertainty show up more clearly than in hiring expectations. Just over 25% of those surveyed expect to have more employees in six months than they have now. This is a meaty drop from the 42% expecting more crowded assembly lines or cube farms just one year ago.

What can we make of this contradiction? That’s a tough call. Kansas City businesses haven’t exactly been standing still since things got weird back in 2008. 28.5% percent have indeed cut staff, and nearly 66% have cut spending. At the same time, 41% have expanded products or services, nearly 55% have increased their marketing efforts and nearly three-quarters have spent more time than ever building up relationships and beefing up their networking.

But with jitterbugging stock markets, political food fights filling the cable channels, and plenty of businesses in a tight fight with a short stick for that next customer, it may be that that inherent Midwestern conservatism for which we’re not too-unjustly famed is inspiring companies to wait and see just a little bit longer.

If you’d like to dig into the whole shebang, just click here and have at it!

When networking, be memorable

August 31, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

Whether you want to expand your circle of influence, increase your sales, raise money for charity or elevate your personal or business profile in the community, here are some realistic, tangible ideas to help you accomplish your objectives.

The 4 most important letters in Networking is W-O-R-K, because that’s exactly what it takes. I know, some make it look easy but truth be told, it’s like so many other things. The more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Here are some ideas on how you can enhance casual business contacts and turn them into lucrative long-term relationships for you and your company.

Use memory hooks. These are excellent tools to use when you’re trying to make a positive, lasting, first impression. A memory hook is something in your introduction that so vividly describes what you do. People will be able to visualize it (or you) clearly in their minds’ eye.  And, people remember visually longer than intellectually.

This can be done by:

Personal branding the way you look:

For example… you’ve probably seen Garret Gardner with Full Voice or Andrew Kaplan with Commerce Bank at various chamber functions. They are always wearing their bow ties. Or maybe you’ve met Mary Redmond with Independent Lease Review; she’s always sporting a great hat.

What these people have identified is a unique way to become hooked in our memories because of their own personal branding.

Branding what you say cleverly with a bit of humor:

Using humor, not to be confused with rude or weird, is another great way to be remembered. When you craft your elevator speech, think about ways to say what you do in a fun, cleaver way. For example

  • Accountant – “When you’re ready to work on your taxes, give us a call because we’re the ones that count!” (Thank you John Scholtes with The Taylor Group.)
  • Chiropractor – “You’ll feel fine when your spine’s in line.” Or “We’re always glad to see you’re back.” (Nice work Dr. Robin with Your Wellness Connection.)
  • Electrical Contractor – “For your commercial and residential electrical needs…give us a call and we’ll check out your shorts.”
  • Plumber – “Remember, a flush is always better than a full house.”

This really works! A word of caution though. Make sure what you’re saying is truly funny and not perceived as insulting.

I’ll bet many of you reading this right now has ran into Christy Chester with Boyle Meat Company.  She has a wonderful…memorable…elevator speech that goes something like this…”I can put a steak in your future, beef up your business; help you out in lean times. And, it’s rare that we don’t have a sizzlin’ good time.”

These are just a few ideas of what other members are using to position themselves. And, by the way, they’re great networkers too!

These ideas may not be right for you, your personality or your business type. The point is: Think about what IS right for you. What can you be doing to become more memorable so people will think of you when they need your product or service?

I would love to get your feedback on what has worked for you. Go ahead, feel free to add your comments.

So now please get networking and meet someone you don’t know.

It’s easy, put a smile on your face and just say hello.