Communicate to Impress

Effective communication can impress anyone, at any time, in any place, and through any medium. Some of the best communication opportunities happen in the most unlikely places. A great example when you see someone use an “elevator pitch”. This term was first coined to define the scenario of a chance meeting with someone important in an elevator. The goal is to have a clear, concise message that can be delivered within the time it takes to ride an elevator, which would then lead to an exchange of business cards or an interest to continue that conversation outside the elevator.

The concept of creating an impression in two minutes or less is even more powerful in a world full of urgency and instant gratification, such as ours. Chance meetings can happen anywhere, not just elevators or city sidewalks. They can happen online through social media, online forums, or even within the comment sections of blogs you frequent. Many of the elements of an effective elevator pitch can be translated to social media interactions. Some of the best talent can be discovered through these chance meetings.

Remember, KISS – Keep It Super Simple! Your message should be professional, but able to be understood by anyone regardless of their level of education or literacy. This means replacing complex concepts and jargon with common terminology in such a way that anyone in your audience can appreciate not just the message, but the direction and the impacts that your message communicates.

Know your stuff. Know the subject matter of what you are talking about. Always be prepared for follow-up questions and how they need to be answered. This means doing your research and tailoring your message to the audience. Tailoring your message can be a challenge when chance encounters happen in person. However, when communicating to impress on LinkedIn or other social media sites, it is easier to understand your intended audience.

Secretly sell yourself. Highlight your unique abilities and accomplishments as well as the value you add to the potential relationship. Showing off your assets without overtly selling yourself leaves a lasting impression. Top talent is drawn to leaders that know how to subtly sell the organization, especially when done in a way that they can see themselves blending nicely into the goals and culture of that organization.

Follow up. Timely follow-up via phone, text, or social media keeps the conversation at the forefront of the mind. Regardless of the situation, following up a day or two after the initial meeting shows your interest and professionalism. This could be the difference between becoming memorable or quickly forgotten.

Perfecting your elevator pitch can make a huge difference in how effectively you communicate in a variety of social situations and how you are viewed by those who can be the next great asset to your team or partner to your goals.

8 Ways to Get More Out of Your Chamber of Commerce Membership

There are many reasons to join your local Chamber of Commerce. Some of the obvious ones are networking opportunities, community involvement, political advocacy, and the trust that Chamber affiliation builds with your customers. Of course, there are many more benefits you receive from becoming a Chamber member, but many people don’t fully enjoy them. They wrongly assume that by simply paying their annual membership dues lots of new business and friends will automatically show up. Without understanding how to make their Chamber experience work for them they give up on the Chamber in frustration.

If all you do is pay your membership fee you will get a welcome letter and a nice sticker to put on your front door. However, if you invest in building trusting, professional relationships with others through the Chamber the rewards in leads, sales, and friendships are potentially game changing for your business. Here are several ways to get more out of the Chamber by investing in other members.

  1. Sign up for their newsletters or updates.
    A great way to learn more about your peers at the Chamber and how you can support their business is to sign up for their company newsletter, directory, or weekly email.
  2. Support them online.
    Support other Chamber members through any of the social media outlets they use and tell your network about them as well. Have you experienced their service or product first hand? Show your support by writing positive product reviews online. 
  3. Submit their news to other groups you are part of.
    Be sure to share your Chamber peers’ news with other groups you may be part of. Think about professional, LinkedIn, or civic groups for example. 
  4. Invite them to be part of your seminars.
    Invite fellow Chamber members to come speak at your company functions or the business seminars you are hosting. They will appreciate the opportunity to showcase their area of expertise and you will enhance your event with guest speakers. 
  5. Share or trade skills and expertise.
    We are all experts at something. What is your “something”? Share that something with someone else at the Chamber. If you are good at writing ad copy and someone else is good at printing sales flyers then offer to share skills. You will probably help each attract more business this way. 
  6. Introduce them to your friends.
    Be the first person to approach new Chamber members when they arrive. Be friendly and introduce them to others in the group. Your gesture will be remembered and appreciated forever. 
  7. Bring them to other functions.
    Perhaps you are member of other organizations in addition to the Chamber. Invite one or two of your Chamber peers to attend other functions with you as your guest. Introduce them to your other associates. This will increase their circle of connections and you will look like a master networker. 
  8. Use their business first.
    Support your fellow Chamber members by giving them preference when you shop. For example, if you need replacement windows for your home and one of the window companies is a Chamber member, give that company your business. Even if they cost a little more, the goodwill your business generates can be invaluable.

Is the Chamber a Government Entity?

A Chamber of Commerce, or a Board of Trade, is a form of business network. The Chamber of Commerce is a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members, and they elect a board of directors, or executive council to set policy for the chamber. The board or council then hires a President, CEO, or Executive Director, plus staffing of an appropriate size to run the organization.

A Chamber of Commerce is a voluntary association of business firms belonging to different trades and industries. They serve as spokesmen and representatives of the business community. They differ from city to city, and region to region.

In many areas Chambers of Commerce are a source of private sector information. The information is usually gathered by surveying Chamber members. This can be used by official governmental departments as a guide to the performance of the economy in the Chambers area.

As a non-governmental institution, a Chamber of Commerce has no direct role in the writing and passage of laws and regulations that affect businesses. It may however, lobby in an attempt to get laws passed that are favorable to businesses.

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4 Benefits to Networking

Active networking is vital to career growth. Often confused with selling, networking is actually about building long-term relationships and a good reputation over time. It involves meeting and getting to know people who you can assist, and who can potentially help you in return.

Here are some key networking benefits:

  1. Strengthen business connections

Networking is about sharing, not taking. Regularly engaging with your contacts, and finding opportunities to assist them helps to strengthen the relationship. By doing this, you sow the seeds for reciprocal assistance when you need help to achieve your goals.

  1. Get fresh ideas, knowledge, and support

Your network can be an excellent source of new perspectives and ideas to help you in your role. Exchanging information on challenges, experiences, and goals from experienced peers is a key benefit of networking because it allows you to gain new insights that you may not have otherwise thought of. Similarly, offering helpful ideas to a contact is an excellent way to build your reputation as an innovative thinker.

Networking is also a great opportunity to exchange best practice knowledge, learn about the business techniques of your peers and stay abreast of the latest industry developments. A wide network of informed, interconnected contacts means broader access to new and valuable information.

  1. Advance you career

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Networking expands your contact which can open doors to new opportunities. You can then help to build your reputation as being knowledgeable, reliable, and supportive by offering useful information or tips to people. Active networking helps to keep you top of mind when opportunities such as job openings arise and increases your likelihood of receiving introductions to potentially relevant people, or even a referral.

  1. Build confidence

By continually putting yourself out there and meeting new people, you’re effectively stepping outside your comfort zone, and building invaluable social skills and self-confidence that you can take with you anywhere. The more you network, the more you’ll grow and learn how to make lasting connections.

If you are interested in networking opportunities, and are a Chamber member we invite you to join us on the first and third Wednesday of every month for Wake Up Wednesday. You can contact Sarah Javins at sarah@dallasoregon.org  or visit our website for more information.

The 10 Don’ts of Networking

Don’t dress down. Looks matter, whether you like it or not. Before you can “wow” people with your impressive set of skills, you’ll need to awe them with your appearance and body language.

Don’t dismiss people who don’t look important. “You should behave here like everyone you interact with has the potential… to get you a cover story in The New York Times.” Sometimes it’s the secretary that will get the job done, not the president.

Don’t expect a job. Getting a job might be more about who you know than what you know – but don’t be so obvious about it.

Don’t be uninformed. No card, no contact. Be up to date with what is going on in your field and in the field whose business you are trying to get. It’s okay to learn something new, but if you don’t know something crucial then you have just lost their faith in your abilities.

Don’t collect business cards like candy. “Don’t trick-or-treat for business cards.” Make an honest connection with someone before you start soliciting for business. They are more likely to give it after a positive interaction verses a cold call.

Don’t only think about yourself. “Networking can be described as the process of interacting or engaging in communication with other for mutual assistance or support.”

Don’t be vague. “I want to go back to school… maybe do something in the business world.” Almost everything has something to do with business. Have clear goals in mind.

Don’t reach too high. Having Mark Cuban, Warren Buffet, or John Maxwell on speed dial would be great – for you. But would you really be able to offer them much help? Maybe… but probably not.

Don’t monopolize anyone’s time. This isn’t a phone call or an email exchange, so give people space to mingle. If they are giving hand signals to a partner across the room to help them escape, you’ve lost the opportunity.

Don’t follow up with a sales pitch. Before you ask for a favor, you need to develop the relationship further, Sue Clement writes on Businessknowhow.com. She recommends referencing something you spoke about at the networking event and then offering the person something they can use – whether that is an introduction or a helpful article.