Friday, March 20, 2009

A Positive Spin

Signs of growth and opportunity are everywhere this spring. At the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, we're probably a bit more optimistic about recovery than the rest of the world, but it isn't because we're not realists - it's because we have behind the scenes information about the good things going on in our community that everyone else may not hear about.

Our staff are spending a lot of time beating the streets, knocking on the doors of our member businesses and talking to members at our business-building events. Guess what? The news is good, and growing better by the minute. That's not to say there are not still many troubling issues in our local, regional and national economy, but watching for the positive helps us all move forward. It takes all of us banding together to pull out of the current economic situation, and while we don't want to be Pollyanna about it, we believe there's merit to that approach.

We've heard recently from member businesses Arrowhead Boat Sales ( and Tucker's Furniture & Appliances ( that 2009 is off to a great start, and that's great news considering the state of affairs in the fourth quarter of 2008.

Do you have good news to share? Visit the new Chamber News section of our website ( and tell us all about it, or read the positive posts from others if you're tired of reading about gloom and doom. The good news is out there, and it is up to all of us to find it, make it, and perpetuate it!

Here's to a great 2009!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Being Worthy of Referrals

This article is full of great tips for all of us!

The Moment of Truth - Being Worthy of Referrals - It's All About Follow Up
Glen Gould

Something magical happens when you begin to attend networking events. People begin to give you leads and referrals. Many have been fortunate to have met someone who wanted to do business right away. Others have met someone at a networking event that should be a part of their networking circle. And still others have met that rare individual who just hears what they do and knows someone who needs their product or service. It happens. And when it does it is a beautiful thing.

Other times you have worked hard for the opportunity. You have attended events, met people and delivered a great elevator pitch (Magical Networking Moment). Through planning your networking and working your plan you have received leads and referrals.

Now comes the moment of truth. What happens when you meet someone or when someone gives you a lead or referral? What will you do with what you have been given? Most leads, referrals, and opportunities die. Most people never follow up or follow through. It's sad but true. Nothing will shut referrals down faster than lack of action on your part. The referral you have received will die. Worse still, because you will be known as someone who doesn't follow up, you won't receive more referrals either.

The good news is you can stand out in most any crowd by being the exception. Simply by following up puts you in an elite class. Following up shows respect for the referral. It shows respect for the person who gave you the referral and it shows respect for you, your company, and everyone's time. And following up is easy. You have tools at your disposal that make managing contacts a snap. You must use them.

While it is the least effective, a simple email can get the follow up process going. Be aware that email isn't what it used to be. Most people get at least fifty emails a day, so your email may not receive priority. Using email alone is better than most, but not enough to reach the most valuable prospects. Email does have it's place in the follow up process. It provides an easy way to connect and it provides a simple management tool for contact information. Use email to make quick, consistent contact with people.

Incorporate snail mail options too. Since we get more email today, many forget that regular mail is a powerful tool. The use of letters, lumpy mail (mail with something inside that makes the envelope beg to be opened), and hand written cards and notes is powerful. For those who simply cannot seem to get this done, programs like Send Out Cards can do this for you. Regular mail is an easy way to stand out from the crowd.

One other tool often overlooked is the telephone. Make use of the phone wisely. When you call, treat the gatekeeper (if there is one) like you would want to be treated. Engage them by using their name and by telling them who you are and why you are calling. It is best to ask for an introductory call when you have been referred. This coupled with courtesy for the gatekeeper will usually ensure your call gets through. And when leaving messages make them short and to the point. Your name, your phone number, who suggested you call, your name and phone number again should suffice. Don't try to sell them on calling you back or your product or service in a message. The referral should result in a return call.

Having a plan and process that you put every referral through will ensure that you are known as someone who follows up. Using email, regular mail, the telephone, and courtesy for the gatekeeper will show everyone that you are a professional and worthy of referrals. Being worthy means more referrals and more business. So make it happen, follow up.

Glen Gould is a business growth and networking expert. Article Source:

Monday, March 2, 2009

How to Maintain Enthusiasm!

Paul Vitale is a good friend to the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. After meeting him, we can't think of anyone who would argue that he is far and away one of the most enthusiastic people you'll ever encounter. In fact, we feel more enthusiastic (not surprisingly) just reading his article below - so much so that an exclamation point was warranted in the blog title!

Paul has served as a speaker for a number of our events and our members have heard from him on topics such as customer service and leadership. This article, however, really captures his ability to deliver personal improvement tips that can truly impact a business. We thought it might be of interest to many of our member businesses:

How to Maintain Enthusiasm
“How do you maintain enthusiasm in this whirlwind of life today? No, really – how do you keep your level of energy spiraling upward, not downward?” That’s a commonly asked question, and many people have a variety of answers. In my profession, one of the greatest opportunities I have is being enthusiastic. It’s tough at times, though. Believe me, I too am human and don’t always wake up on the right side of the bed; but over the years, I’ve learned that enthusiasm is a choice. I can assure you that it’s not as hard as it sounds.

Enthusiasm is often defined as simply having a passionate interest in something. But what does that passion really accomplish? For starters, the passion that is generated through enthusiasm sets an important tone and pace that greatly influences our daily lives. It helps define objectives that are important to us and it provides the incredible chance to create positive change.

Now that sounds good, but where do we find that passion and how do we let it shine? There are a few key questions that you can ask yourself to discover where your passions are, how to become enthusiastic about them, and how to help others sustain their enthusiasm.

First, where does your self-confidence measure today? Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become. Having self-confidence is not about being arrogant, but possessing a belief in our true ability to succeed. Accomplishing or succeeding in anything takes a state-of-mind that is passionate, resilient and willing to learn from the trials and tribulations of everyday experiences. As we know, life’s battles don’t discriminate. If we think we have been beaten, we definitely have; if we like to achieve, but think we can’t, it is almost certain we won’t; if our self-confidence is lost, so is our will.

Remember – preparation creates confidence and through continuous practice, confidence evolves into competence. At that point, we find ourselves accomplishing tasks gracefully and with great assurance.

Second, are your reactions calm, steady and composed? By demonstrating grace under pressure, each of us inspires others to stay calm and act intelligently. When issues arise, it’s natural to want to hide in a hole, instead of taking a stand or position. Through a calm, steady and composed reaction, we have the opportunity to respond to what has to be done, when it needs to be done, for however long it takes. Things will continuously happen and people will always act and react in certain ways. We might not be able to control that, but we can keep this in mind – maintaining our composure is in the details. It’s not what we say; it’s how we say it.

Remember – at times, composure’s greatest enemy is anxiety. Try not to worry – you can’t change the past, but you sure can ruin the present by worrying over the future. The large majority of the things we worry about never happen and the rest are going to happen anyway. Calmness is an extension of our self-confidence and faith that in the end, everything will work out.

Third, is your communication flow moving freely? Two people can look at the exact same thing, but perceive it totally differently. Just as two people can hear the exact same thing, but interpret it many different ways. The quality of the exchange of information between individuals sets the table for either success or failure. When each of us has a true understanding and connection to those around us, the exchange of feedback and the value of accountability are made easier. Keeping the lines of communication open helps eliminate misunderstandings that can jeopardize our level of enthusiasm.

Remember – explain to people what you expect. Develop a plan for accomplishing your objectives and goals and then launch it. Be the first to listen for feedback that may signal the need for a strategy change. When things go wrong, take two things – charge and responsibility. When things go right, share two things – glory and praise.

Fourth, are you emphasizing the good qualities of others? Emphasizing the good qualities of people is extremely contagious. It has a domino effect. When we hear others building people up, it’s easy to join in. However, we know how easy it is to stray off in the opposite direction as well. People want to feel valued and respected for their place in life. A kind and sincere word of appreciation doesn’t cost anything, but pays big dividends in loyalty and dedication. Finding the good qualities in others is a selfless act of placing others first, more often than last. In return, much more is received than given. You are able to feel good about yourself and that helps sustain your enthusiasm.

Remember - research has shown that individuals who receive regular recognition and praise are more likely to commit to the team, become more productive and even tack on additional years to their lives. Studies indicate that increasing positive emotions can lengthen a lifespan by 10 years; whereas being in negative surroundings consistently can increase the risk of stroke by up to 33%.

Fifth, do you recognize the strength of influence? Every relationship in your life will affect you one way or another. Those who do not increase you will decrease you. Take note of those who readily share your vision and complement your efforts, because they are the ones who will make you better. The strength of our influence has the power to affect the minds and actions of many in a direct or indirect way. Realize we are where we are today because of the many who have influenced us along the way.

Remember – our attitude is not determined by circumstances, but by how we respond to circumstances. Our minds determine our attitude. We can respond positively or negatively. It’s how we react to the events, not the events themselves, which determines our attitude.

Sixth, are you continuing to look inward — then outward? Most people don’t want to be managed. They want to be led. Who has ever heard of a world manager? World leader, yes. Education leader, political leader, religious leader, scout leader, community leader, business leader. They lead – they don’t necessarily just manage. Individuals who are able to look inward and get excited about their own lives, are then in turn provided the incredible opportunity to look outward and enthuse others. If we concentrate on managing ourselves first, and do that well, then we’ll be able to stop just managing, and start leading.

Remember – no great leader ever succeeded alone. There is always a team of followers. It’s much easier to find great followers if the leader is able to generate excitement for the cause.

Life is chaotic and it is easy to feel beaten down. However, find what motivates you, what you can be passionate about and what drives you to get up in the morning. Focus on these things and use the energy that you derive from that and channel it into the things you may be less enthusiastic about. Do this and you may even find yourself enjoying some things that you were dreading. Soon, you’ll find yourself answering the question, “So how do you maintain enthusiasm in this whirlwind of life today?”

C. 2008 Vital Communications, Inc. — Paul Vitale, professional speaker and author, presents keynote presentations and seminars across North America. For additional information, visit or call 501-663-1454 or 501-868-8195.

Generate business with FREE e-coupons!

According to the New York Times, coupons are hip - particularly online coupons. While the article below was published about three months ago, we believe the current economic environment makes the message resonate even more:

It's obvious coupons can drive business your way, and it's even better when they don't cost you a dime! We're extremely happy to offer free e-coupons to all members of the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. To post an e-coupon for your business, visit and click on "Members Only" in the upper right corner. Forgot your login information? Just give us a call at 479-636-1240, or e-mail

The e-coupons appear in our Business Directory, the most popular section of Visitors may view a list of all e-coupons by category under our Quick Links, but e-coupons also appear next to the contact information (and locator map) for member businesses. If you have any questions on posting or logistics, just contact Shelle Summers directly at 479-619-3187 or

Let e-coupons work behind the scenes for your business!