Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dive into social media to better your business!

It's been very gratifying to be able to serve our members by brokering information about social media as an absolutely free marketing tool to grow their businesses. This is a no-brainer for the Chamber, since we have always positioned ourselves as a clearinghouse of information for our member businesses. It's exciting to see our staff helping both members and the general public understand these tools.

In fact, literally as I type this I am listening to our Director of Workforce and Small Business, Gretchen Laffoon, explain to a job seeker that LinkedIn is an "online resume that is changing the face of job hunting." I agree - think of it as your virtual business card.

To many, social media is written off as the fad of the day. In fact, an article by Steve Millard in the Summer 2009 issue of Chamber Executive magazine regarding social media reads:

The topic might surface at a staff meeting, or in a board discussion, or at a workshop... and all of a sudden, someone is saying how their chamber needs to do this "social media thing." The twenty-something program coordinator looks up with a glimmer in her eye - after all, it's about time! The senior leaders and volunteer leaders over fifty arch their eyebrows and wonder aloud what the value of getting involved with this new type of tool will be, while those in between are both excited and vexed about what it all means for their chamber and their members.

Here's the next sentence in Millard's article, and it is a gem:

These are the same types of conversations we were having just ten to fifteen years ago regarding websites and email! And in most cases, we all came through that evolution reasonably well.

At the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce, we don't see social media as a way to make a buck or position ourselves as expert in something we are not. We DO see an absolutely incredible opportunity to serve our members by offering easy, painless access to information (in layman's terms!) on how to use social media to the benefit of your business. While there are plenty of purely social sites out there, we focus on what works for professionals and businesses.

And here's the caveat: we're not tech wizards or media experts, but we do know where you're coming from. Let us help you navigate the social media waters (and save you plenty of time in doing so). Whether you've explored these tools a little or don't have the foggiest idea what they are and how to use them, this is a learning environment for every level. Join us at our next workshop on July 24 by registering here:

Monday, June 15, 2009

No, seriously - get your booth NOW for this event!

Ok, so we have repeatedly ( and and perhaps even maniacally mentioned the Northwest Arkansas Business Conference & Expo scheduled for August 6. You know, you get it.

And while August is a long way off and may give you unpleasant thoughts of the end of summer and back-to-school time, you have to face the music: time is running out to participate in this fantastic event!  Admittedly, we are a bit biased since it is our event, but our enthusiasm is sincere.

The keynote and luncheon speakers are falling into place (promise, you'll love them!), the seminars are just about finalized, and all in all it is stacking up to be a phenomenal (and inexpensive) day with positive impact for business people throughout Northwest Arkansas and the state, whether a one-person shop or a 500 person team.  You must attend.

More importantly, however, the Expo portion of the event is just about full!  We are now sold out on all Class A, B and C booths... except the booths that come with a handful of remaining sponsorships!  There is just ONE Business After Hours sponsorship remaining ($1,500, includes microphone time and a prime Class A booth), THREE gold sponsorships ($1,000, includes a class A booth) and THREE silver sponsorships ($750, includes a class B booth).  

Additionally, we have a couple of session sponsorships remaining ($650, includes microphone time with 30 - 50 business people attending the session PLUS the opportunity to distribute information about your business).

Granted, it's part of our job (and our commitment to businesses of all sizes) to put on this event and sell booths and sponsorships.  Seriously, though, you will regret it if you do not showcase your business in the Expo portion of the event.  Tickets will be available up to the event day (, but jump now to grab a spot to highlight your business.

As Brian Solis states in this excerpt from his article "Fear Kills Businesses, Dead" on TechCrunch (

Businesses, and customers, do not stop making decisions—they’re just more discerning during volatile economic climates. But make no mistake, if you choose to stop vying for customer attention, the world will move ahead without you.

This is your time to vault in front of your competition, to earn rapid and sweeping visibility, for a fraction of the time and money that was required to excel during the “good days.”

Your rivals are retreating right now, so what are you going to do about it?

Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu advised in The Art of War:

When weak, feign strength…Attack him [your enemy] where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

Whoever inspires you, remember, tomorrow’s leaders are born, tested, and proven, today. This is your moment.

So, you'll be there with your product, your service, your business cards and your sales pitch, right?  See you at the Northwest Arkansas Business Conference & Expo on August 6!

Northwest Arkansas ranked #2 in U.S. for recession recovery!

Here's what ( said about Northwest Arkansas:

Cities poised for a rebound--and cities with a long slog ahead.

The three most important things in real estate: location, location, location.

It's true for recovery from a real estate bubble too. Overall, many economists expect the national economy to return to growth later in 2009, perhaps as soon as this summer. But that won't be the case everywhere. While some cities are poised for a quick rebound, others face a slog to recovery that could take years.

To find the 10 cities that look best poised for recovery (and the 10 cities likely looking at the longest climb back), we examined estimates from data provider Moody's of the projected gross domestic product of metropolitan areas across the U.S., as well as unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and home prices, incomes and affordability data from the National Association of Home Builders. Because, in general, healthy cities were not victims of as severe a housing collapse, home prices were not used in ranking the cities poised for recovery.

#2.  Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas

Current GDP: $13.9 billion

End of 2010: $14.5 billion (projected)

Unemployment: 5%

What better way to sit pretty during a recession than to have the ultimate recession-proof company headquartered in your neighborhood. The Fayetteville region is home to Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart. Wall Street may be struggling, but the presence of the world's most powerful retailer keeps northwest Arkansas' business community humming.