Tradeshow Checklist

Mark your calendars for Wednesday, November 7! The Sarasota and Manatee Chamber of Commerce have teamed up once again to offer our members the greatest of networking opportunities, Chamber Expo 2018.

Attended by hundreds of Chamber members and guests, this networking event offers complimentary light bites, lots of door prizes, and the opportunity to make valuable connections and learn more about local businesses so we can all “shop local.”

Never been to a trade show? No problem! This checklist will help exhibitors successfully prepare for and pull off their first show or 50th.

Gather a team and set a goal.

Having a small team and being relaxed shows professionalism and puts out a welcoming vibe for your visitors. Set specific goals you wish to achieve, other than just getting a positive ROI. This way you’ll be able to better evaluate the level of success you had from your event participation.

Clearly market your unique selling propositions.

First impressions matter, and you only have a few moments to show visitors why they should consider you.

Create buzz using PR or social media.

Don’ wait until the date of the trade show to promote yourself using press releases or social media. A press release can be a great way to promote yourself online. Sharing this with your social media audiences can also create buzz, encouraging viewers to attend your event.

Assign roles to each team member.

Assigning different roles to team members helps you stay organized and work efficiently.

Have a door prize.

Offer a prize that in some way complements your business if possible, and appeals to anyone.

If you using tech, don’t rely on it solely.

This one’s pretty straightforward. Tech can sometimes fail. Be ready in case it does.

Have inexpensive but nifty (and useful) giveaways.

People love free stuff. When I attend a trade show, I’m always looking for branded canvas bags, calendars, wristbands, and lanyards.

Welcome everyone who comes near. 

People love the right kind of attention. Welcoming and interacting with visitors is a friendly gesture. Invite individuals to check out what you have to offer.

Expect some rejection, but you’d be surprised how many visitors just need a friendly push in the right direction before really getting interested in your products or services.

Network with other exhibitors.

There will always be more experienced exhibitors at the event, and you can learn a lot from how they handle their business.

Networking is always a great opportunity, and it’s especially easy to meet new industry experts at trade shows. Don’t enter the show feeling intimidated or too competitive. You never know when a competitor can become a great partner or inspiration.


Want to Exhibit at Chamber Expo, click here!

Why Exhibit?

Great opportunity to showcase your business to hundreds of business owners and decision makers from Manatee and Sarasota counties at this combined Expo and Business After Hours.

  • Exhibitor Space includes an 8-foot skirted table, two chairs, curtain backdrop and sides, identification sign, and four complimentary admissions to the event.

*Corner booths and sponsorships available.

DON’T DELAY – Booths will sell out!

*Vendors that register for a booth before September 28th have the option to chose their booth space!*

Advertisements

Are You and Your Business Ready for Storm Season?

As you know we are already a month and a half into Hurricane Season, as it started June 1st and lasts until November 30, but it is never too late get yourself and your business ready. Last year, some of us on the Suncoast learned lessons the hard way with unpredictable weather patterns from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that threatened our homes and businesses. Thank you to Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) for creating a plan for the community & businesses to prepare.

Sarasota County FPL skinny

FPL_blueJune2011

Tropical weather in the state of Florida is a way of life. The Sunshine State leads the nation in landfalling hurricanes with nearly 120 – almost double that of Texas, which ranks second on the infamous list. Properly preparing for hurricane season now can save you and your employees’ unwanted stress when a storm has its eyes set on the state. The key is having a plan in place for when that time comes. Here are some tips to help get you going.

Plan ahead:

  • Ensure your employees’ contact information is up to date.
  • Have a plan in place to communicate after the storm passes, e.g. set up a telephone number with a recorded message that will be regularly updated to inform employees of the status of company operations.
  • Consider developing a system to authorize re-entry to company facilities after a storm, e.g. I.D. cards and vehicle permits.
  • Establish a safe area away from exterior glass windows and doors if you plan to take shelter in your business.
  • Determine if your business is in a flood and/or evacuation zone and review evacuation routes, designating an emergency temporary site.
  • Identify what you need to secure your building, important equipment and who will help; outline specific tasks and conduct a training session.
  • Photograph or record your building or office – inside and out – for insurance purposes.
  • Have all trees and vegetation near power lines trimmed by specially trained line-clearing professionals to minimize their potential impact on your business and neighboring businesses.
  • Make sure debris is cleared prior to a hurricane warning announcement – trash pickup will be suspended during this time. Tree limbs and branches are the leading cause of outages and can become airborne during a storm.
  • Bookmark FPL.com/outage and save 1-800-4OUTAGE to your cell phone to report and check the status of your restoration.
  • Download the FPL Mobile App in the App Store or Google Play, or text the word “App” MyFPL (69375).
  • Save your FPL account number to the notes section of your cell phone, or keep a copy of your FPL bill – which has your account number on it.
  • Update the phone number and email address on your FPL account.
  • Consider installing a generator in case of power outages.

Generator safety

  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines when using a generator to avoid
    dangerous shortcuts and ensure safe operation.
  • DO NOT directly connect your generator to your business’s breaker or fuse box. Power from a generator connected to a business’s wiring will “back feed” into utility lines – which can severely injure or kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power.
  • DO NOT run generators inside your business or garage, as they produce potentially
    deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Keep generators away from all open windows to prevent the fumes from entering your business.
  • Buy a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you if carbon-monoxide levels become dangerous.
  • Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
  • Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
  • DO NOT touch a generator if you are wet, standing in water or on damp ground.
  • NEVER refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
  • Ensure you have plenty of gas safely stored in gas containers to operate your generator.

Before a storm:

  • Pay attention to instructions from public officials and the media.
  • Secure the exterior of your office and protect interior furniture:
  • Identify outdoor equipment, materials, and structures that could become airborne and move them to a safe location.
  • Park vehicles in safe, protected areas such as a covered garage.
  • Secure doors, windows, and other openings.
  • Move items away from the windows.
  • Lock drawers and filing cabinets.
  • Unplug all lamps, radios, computers, and equipment in case of a power surge; cover important equipment with plastic bags.
  • Gather any important supplies and documents.
  • Charge your cell phone and keep it ready by obtaining portable chargers.
  • Make multiple back-ups of computer files and data and store records off premises.
  • Run a special voice message informing employees and customers of the status of company operations.
  • Close your offices with sufficient time to allow employees to secure their own homes, and inform clients that you’re closing early and when you plan to reopen.

After a storm:

  • Make your safety and the safety of your employees a priority.
  • DO NOT travel, or ask employees to travel, until it is safe to do so.
  • Watch for downed power lines. Call 911 or FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE to report fallen power lines that present a clear and imminent danger. DO NOT attempt to touch any power lines. Always assume that every power line is energized.
  • Read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions and safety guidelines if you use a portable generator. Remember to NEVER wire your generator to your breaker or fuse box – the power you generate may flow back into power lines causing severe injury or death.
  • Turn off your circuit breakers, disconnect all electrical appliances and turn off all wall switches immediately in case of interior water damage. Remember to never stand in water while operating switches or unplugging any electrical device.
  • Stay away from standing water and debris, which could conceal a live wire.
  • DO NOT venture out in the dark because you might not see a downed power line that could be energized and dangerous.
  • Make emergency repairs only when it is safe to do so. Repairs that prevent looting or further damage should have top priority, but only if the repair can be done safely.
  • Take inventory to determine and record losses – based on the photos and recordings you took for insurance purposes.

Staying in touch with FPL following a storm

When outages occur, we know our customers want and need information on when their power will be restored. FPL will provide updated restoration time estimates and other progress reports via mobile if a storm strikes:

For more storm and safety tips, visit us at FPL.com/storm.

To download a PDF copy of this plan, click here.


FPL has invested more than $3 billion since the historic 2004-2005 hurricane seasons to build a stronger and smarter energy grid you can count on in good weather and bad. The improvements we have made to the grid have improved service reliability for our customers by more than 30 percent over the past seven years. And, we’re not stopping there. Here’s what we’ve done in Sarasota County since 2006 to make the energy grid more resilient in storms and more reliable during day-to-day operations:

  • Strengthened 39 main power lines, including those that serve critical services, such as Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota Emergency Operations Center, the American Red Cross – Southwest Florida Chapter location, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and 9-1-1 emergency communications centers, that are necessary for communities to recover faster after a storm;
  • Cleared tree branches and vegetation — a major cause of power outages — from 8,841 miles of power lines, an average of 737 miles every year;
  • Inspected all 85,728 power poles every eight years, strengthening or replacing those that no longer meet FPL’s standards for strength;
  • Installed smart grid technology, including 2,055 automated switches on main and neighborhood power lines to help detect problems and restore service faster when outages occur; and
  • Inspected 252 main power lines and equipment using infrared technology to detect issues before they cause a power interruption.

Welcome, CareerEdge Funders Staff!

Deborah Chapman

CareerEdge Program Director

deborah-chapman-2016-180x300.jpg

Deborah manages the major workforce development initiatives of the collaborative, including sector-focused employer partnerships, job seeker training programs in high demand occupations, an internship reimbursement program and youth career and college access strategies at CareerEdge Funders.

With over 25 years of experience in the consulting field, Deborah has spent her career working with organizations, teams, and individuals to achieve their transformational goals. Her focus is on improving strategies, structures, systems, and cultures to drive results-based outcomes. Her analytical style, attention to detail and engaging demeanor have made her a respected and sought-after advisor. As a skilled strategist and researcher, Deborah has proven acumen in:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Project Management
  • Organizational Development
  • Meeting Facilitation

As the former Director of Customer Research at Kaset International (now part of MHI Global) an international customer service training and consulting firm, Deborah managed a team of consultants providing client services in customer satisfaction research. She developed and validated survey instruments, designed supporting research processes, and implemented internal customer satisfaction & training product research functions. Prior to this role, Deborah was Director of Strategic Planning & Development at Kaset. She worked with CEO to define and integrate quality concepts into the organization’s core programs; developed service quality consulting materials for executive workshops; and led the Strategic Planning Committee.

Prior to Kaset, Deborah worked as a consultant at Vantage Consulting Group where she evaluated stakeholder relationships, developed strategic communications plans and designed and implemented customer satisfaction surveys. Deborah began her career with Behavior Management Consultants where she analyzed performance deficits and developed appraisal systems to improve productivity; trained supervisors in behavioral evaluation processes; and co-taught a Performance Management course to business professionals and government employees.

Deborah graduated from Florida State University cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and received an MBA from the University of Alabama, where she was awarded the Graduate Council Fellowship.

You can contact Deborah at dchapman@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4038.


Lauren Meyer

CareerEdge Program Coordinator

lauren-meyer-headshot-300x300-e1529937104836.jpgLauren joined CareerEdge Funders Collaborative as the Program Coordinator in 2016. She is responsible for assisting with data management, social media, and community/media outreach. Lauren is thrilled to be a part of the CareerEdge team! In her free time, she likes to dance ballet, read books, and travel.

Lauren is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree Cum Laude in Communication Digital Media Studies, with a Business minor. Her main focus has been in areas such as public relations, marketing, and digital media.

Before joining CareerEdge, Lauren held internships in television and news production at Florida State University with University Communications. She was responsible for planning news stories, interviews, and developing branded content. She also has participated in the Disney College Program and has interned with an event consulting company Suncoast Connections assisting with event planning and logistics. She was responsible for coordination with clients, social media outreach, press releases, and the overall management of the planned events. Lauren also assisted a tech start-up, Viva Green Homes, as their Media and Communications Coordinator. She was able to develop a branded press and social media campaign for the new company and assisted the president in market research to grow and bring awareness to the company.

You can contact Lauren at lmeyer@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4029.


Want to learn more about CareerEdge Funders?

Please visit careeredgefunders.org.

Herald-Tribune’s Best Places to Work Annual Ranking

Is your company one of the best places to work in our region?  Now is your chance to find out!

Nominate your company for the Herald-Tribune’s 2018 Best Places to Work. Registration is open through July 13 and can be entered at HTBestPlacesToWork.com.BestPlacestoWork_2018_logos

Best Places to Work is a survey competition to determine which participants are the best employers in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The two-part survey process recognizes companies that demonstrate workplace excellence and are known for retaining and recruiting the best and brightest employees.

Independent firm Best Companies Group evaluates the selection and ranking of entries and winners are published in the Herald-Tribune. The contest is open for for-profit or nonprofit companies as well as those publicly or privately held entities. All must maintain a facility in Sarasota or Manatee and maintain a minimum of 15 permanent, non-contract employees working locally.

Companies that choose to participate are assessed on two factors: A questionnaire about company policies, practices, demographics and benefits; and, a survey of randomly selected employees at each firm. The employees will respond anonymously to 78 statements on a five-point agreement scale, as well as a handful of open-ended questions and demographic inquiries.

Best Companies Group analyzes and ranks participating firms in eight areas: leadership and planning; corporate culture and communications; role satisfaction; work environment; relationships with supervisors; training, development and resources; pay and benefits; and, overall engagement.

The Herald-Tribune will recognize the 2018 Best Places to Work in a special section that publishes in November. A celebration luncheon will be hosted on Nov. 7 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota to announce the results of the surveys and list the Top 25 local employers.

Apply today!

How to be a better networker for people who hate networking

With Sarasota Summer Showcase just around the corner (June 27), we thought this article from The Washington Post was very relevant and helpful for our members who are not very keen with the ins-and-outs of networking.


Most species hang out only with family members. Everybody else is a potential enemy. Good ol’ Homo sapiens have been successful because we’ve extended the definition of family by using mutually agreed upon stories — “fictive kinship” as Israeli researcher Yuval Noah Harari points out.

Families are not merely blood relatives. We’re in many families: We’re Americans. We’re IBM employees. We’re on the same softball team. Most simply, we’re friends. This allows us to collaborate on a scale that’s impossible for other animals. This is the secret to our success as a species. It’s also the secret to your success as an individual: friendship.

networking

Even so, you might feel awkward about going up to that person who could be important to your career with what feels like the thin veneer of “friendship.” But that’s a false distinction. One of the primary things every romantic couple has in common is not magic, it’s proximity. It’s really hard to fall in love when you never encounter each other.

Sure, reaching out may feel awkward at first, but there’s no need to be afraid of networking. The truth is, we often underestimate by as much as 50 percent how much others are willing to help us when asked. Remember, the rule of thumb is simple when making friends: Assume other people will like you, and they probably will. Here are some other tips to help you become an effective networker.

Start with the friends you already have

Research shows that one of the quickest and easiest ways to boost your network isn’t to pass your business card out on street corners; it’s to reconnect with old friends. And there’s no sleazy element to it at all — they’re already your friends. You just haven’t caught up with them in a year. Go through your Facebook friends list, your LinkedIn connections, or your address book, and send a few emails every week, asking, “What’s up?” Research shows that those dormant friendships can actually be bigger boosters to your career than any new connections you make.

Find your ‘Superconnectors’

Not all people in a network are created equal, contact-wise. Northwestern University professor Brian Uzzi and journalist Sharon Dunlap did research and found that there’s an 80/20 rule of sorts in networking. You probably met the vast majority of your friends through a handful of “superfriends” — your buddies who are the most socially connected. So when it comes to trying to expand your network and make new friends, do what works. Reaching out to these “superfriends” and saying, “Whom do you know that I should meet?” will produce disproportionate results.

Make the time and the budget

People say they want to increase their networks but few really make it a priority, dedicate time for it, or commit something specific to it, such as “I’m going to allocate an extra $50 a week to having coffees and lunches in which I connect with people.” Entrepreneur and best-selling author Ben Casnocha saw that top networkers committed a certain amount of time and money to their networking goal so that when opportunities came up, they didn’t hesitate.

Join groups

No, not some corny “networking group.” Again, that’s awkward and borderline gross. Do you know a bunch of friends who have lunch every week? How about a group that watches football every Sunday? A book club at work? These are fun, passive ways to make sure you stay in the mix and connect with others organically.

Always follow up

We all meet people but we rarely take the time to follow up and actually begin a friendship. Analyzing 8 million phone calls between 2 million people, researchers at Notre Dame found that what makes close friendships endure is simply staying in touch every two weeks. Now, you don’t need to connect with people that often if they’re not close friends, but the principle still stands: Checking in every now and then matters.

Just like your mother taught you, say thank you

Research from the journal Cognition and Emotion shows that gratitude is the quality that makes people want to spend more time with you. Gratitude is the tactical nuke of happiness and the cornerstone of long-lasting relationships.

If it’s that simple — just taking time to say thanks — why don’t we all do it? Researchers call it “hedonic adaptation.” I call it “taking things for granted.” When you first get your new house, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to you. A year later, it’s that money pit that needs a new roof. The joy of the new never lasts. And this happens with everything.

Making time to feel gratitude for what you have undoes the hedonic adaptation. And what’s the best way to do this? Thank the people around you. Relationships are the key to happiness, and taking the time to say “thanks” renews that feeling of being blessed.

So here is my final recommendation: Do a gratitude visit. This isn’t just some cute idea. Research by psychology professor Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania shows that doing a gratitude visit is one of the most powerful ways to feel happier and to make someone else happy in the process.

It’s quite simple. Seligman says to write a letter of gratitude to someone. Make it concrete; say what they did for you and how it affected your life. Then set a time to sit down with them, but don’t say why. When you meet, read them the letter. Both of you will be happier for it.

An email or text is fine, too. Studies show gratitude gives our friendships a “booster shot” and predicts relationship satisfaction. Gratitude doesn’t just help friendships. It also improves work relationships. One study showed that although we say “thanks” regularly to family, only 15 percent show gratitude at work. And 35 percent of those surveyed said their boss never says it.

You’re not too busy — and neither are they — for a brief show of sincere gratitude. You may think they already know how you feel, but showing it is where the real magic is.


This article is By Eric Barker and adapted from “From Barking Up The Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong.” Copyright © 2017 by Eric Barker. Reprinted with permission by HarperOne, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers. Barker’s popular blog can be found here.


View original article in The Washington Post

Welcome to The Chamber Team, John Vitolo!

John-Vitolo-SQ

John Vitolo joins us as our new Membership Investment Representative, responsible for bringing in new Chamber members and connecting members with advertising opportunities. John’s career began in New York’s magazine industry, marketing publications such as Good Housekeeping, Bon Appétit, and Condé Nast Traveler; he also spent time in Boston, MA with Yankee Magazine.

In 2007, John made his way to Sarasota with Miles Partnership, representing advertising programs for travel destinations such as Visit Florida, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana. Both John and his wife are graduates of Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. The Vitolo’s have three children; 26, 21, and 11 and they reside in Sarasota.

You can contact John at jvitolo@sarasotachamber.com or (941) 556-4058.

For Third Straight Year, Sarasota County Schools Lead State in Pell Grant Pursuit

Print

The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, a collective impact team of local organizations focused on increasing college and credential attainment in Sarasota County, announces that the Sarasota County School District has been recognized as having the highest FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion rate in the state, according to the Florida College Access Network (FCAN). This is the third year in a row that Sarasota County has been named number one in the state for “Large Districts” in FCAN’s annual Florida FAFSA Challenge.

2018 FAFSA Photo 1

Completing the FAFSA is the first step to accessing financial aid for college, as well as a leading indicator of college attendance. But research indicates that Florida high school graduates leave behind over $100 million in federal Pell Grants alone by not completing the form. Through targeted efforts developed by Talent4Tomorrow in partnership with the school district, 47.8% of Sarasota County high school seniors completed the FAFSA as of March 31, 2018. According to FCAN, the incremental increase in FAFSA completion over the last two years has resulted in approximately $800,000 in additional Pell grants available for Sarasota County graduates to pursue their higher-education goals, with the average student award approximately $4,000.

“The Talent4Tomorrow initiative demonstrates an example of a true collaboration between a broad range of organizations coming together for a common goal – the future of our community’s youth.  The Chamber believes strongly in this alliance and the outcomes are a testament to the strength and commitment that the partners bring to the table,” said Kevin Cooper, President of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce which serves as the ‘backbone’ organization for Talent4Tomorrow.

Innovative Strategies

Talent4Tomorrow partners worked with the District to implement several strategies that assisted graduating high school seniors and their families with completing the financial aid form. Talent4Tomorrow hosted FAFSA labs at high schools, with support from local college financial aid officers and other community volunteers, to assist students and their parents in the application process. It also implemented a communications plan to raise awareness about FAFSA that included flyers, text messages, emails, classroom visits, morning announcements, outreach to youth-serving partners and the faith-based community, press releases, and social media posts.

2018 FAFSA Photo 2

The Partnership developed some new techniques this year, such as the innovative use of Snapchat geofilters, introduced by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative and piloted at Booker High School. A geofilter is similar to a frame or sticker that can go on a Snapchat photo and is shared with the user’s friends. An organization or individual pays to have the filter available in Snapchat for a specific location and period of time. With approval from the school, the electronic FAFSA lab filter was made available in the cafeteria for the students. On lab day alone, the filter was swiped by 367 students, and 64 of them posted these framed photos on their account, which resulted in 2,900 views of the FAFSA filter.

According to FCAN, Booker High School had the second-highest completion rate improvement in the District compared to last year, with a 9% increase.  The Snapchat strategy was seen as a positive application of a platform used by students daily. The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership plans to expand the use of this social media tool next year and will continue to look for ways to engage and connect with students on the value of completing the FAFSA.

Support for these programs and events comes from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with matching funds from the Florida Philanthropic Network through its College Access & Success Initiative (CASI), which is supported by the Helios Education Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

More information about FCAN and the FAFSA Challenge Winners is available here.


About the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership

Talent4Tomorrow was launched by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce in 2013 to cultivate a competitive regional workforce by developing a talent pipeline for area students to enter local jobs that are in high demand. Initially a broad-based regional business and education collaborative, it has since sharpened its focus on improving college attainment for Sarasota County youth. It serves as Sarasota’s “Local College Access Network,” or LCAN, coordinating the diverse efforts of a team of community partners to increase college and career preparation, access, and completion. It is one of nine such regional groups, representing 22 counties, aligned with the statewide Florida College Access Network (FCAN). Leadership of the collaborative includes the following organizations: Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Sarasota County School District, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, UnidosNow, and United Way Suncoast. Additionally, more than 30 other nonprofits, businesses, and educational institutions participate as implementation partners, making it possible to deliver programs and services to students and their families.