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

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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.
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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

7 Ways to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Small Business

Grow your small business with LinkedIn by using these seven proven tactics.

There are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States, but only half of them will make it past five years. To ensure your small business is in the successful half, we encourage you to capitalize on the various ways LinkedIn can evolve your business.

With LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you can generate leads, produce sales, and hire top professionals to fuel your growth. Here are seven ways to grow your business using LinkedIn:

  1. Create a LinkedIn Company Page

We’ve found that LinkedIn members are 50% more likely to buy once they’ve engaged with your business on LinkedIn. But they can’t connect with you if you don’t have a LinkedIn Company Page. According to Forbes, only 57% of companies have pages. The remaining 43% are missing out on a free opportunity to generate leads, talent, and, ultimately, revenue.

If you don’t already have one, create a LinkedIn Company Page. Personal profiles don’t have the same marketing, advertising, and recruiting features as Company Pages, making them less effective at promoting your business. As you create your page, think about the kind of impression you want to create among potential customers and employees. This will help you select the right photos and messages to use on your page.

For a step-by-step guide on how to create an above and beyond Company Page, view our LinkedIn Company Page Best Practices.

  1. Promote Your Company Page

Once you have a Company Page, announce it to your clients, employees, and personal network. This will help you gain your first followers, who in turn will help to promote your Company Page on the content you post to it.

Promoting your page on other platforms or via email is also a great way to grow your audience. Here are some simple ways to get the word out:

  • Announce the launch of the Company Page on your personal LinkedIn profile
  • Encourage employees to follow the Company Page by making it a part of your onboarding process—Social Media Today reports that content shared by employees receives eight times the engagement as brand shared content
  • Link to your Company Page in the footer of your marketing emails or newsletters
  • Embed a Company Follow button on your website so visitors can easily follow your LinkedIn Company Page
  1. Share Content Regularly

The more you post, the more people you can potentially reach and convert. Best-in-class LinkedIn Company Pages are consistently updated to ensure that visitors have plenty of new content to consume and share.

To get started, try posting at least once per week. It’s not uncommon for companies to post three or more times per day. Post whenever you have something worth saying. Posting consistently shows Company Page visitors that your company is active on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn’s Company Page analytics to see your top performing updates, your best times to post, and which members of your audience are the most engaged. With this information, it’s easy to make data-driven decisions to optimize your Company Page content.

In addition to posting often, here are a few more stats to help you boost engagement:

  • Posts with links receive up to 45% more engagement
  • Images see an incredible 98% increase in engagement
  • Posts that have relevant “best-of” lists get almost 40% more amplification

When a post gets good engagement, consider promoting it to a wider audience with LinkedIn Sponsored Content. Take the Sponsored Content Tour and discover how Sponsored Content amplifies your best content.

  1. Showcase Thought Leadership

Seventy-nine percent of buyers say thought leadership is critical for determining which companies they want to learn more about. To get started with thought leadership content, try to provide a unique perspective on your industry, product, or organization. Sharing your opinion on the future of your industry or creating a definitive guide to your product are just two ways to demonstrate your expertise and position your company as a credible partner.

For more ideas and advice on expanding your brand’s authority, download our Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Thought Leadership to learn more.

  1. Target Sales Prospects

LinkedIn has over 500 million users to date. That may seem like a lot to sort through, but LinkedIn also provides you with tools to identify and target your ideal audience.

LinkedIn members are more likely than other social media users to keep their profiles up-to-date, making it easier for you to find the right people. Use LinkedIn profile data to search for LinkedIn members based on geographic location, education, experience, and even connections. Once you’ve found prospects using the search feature, visit their profiles. Their endorsements or recent profile views might surface additional qualified prospects, too.

For more ways to reach your ideal audience, learn how to advertise on LinkedIn.

  1. Build an All-Star Team

LinkedIn has helped 75% of job switchers make informed career decisions, making LinkedIn a top recruiting network. What are candidates looking for when making those decisions? Our research shows that 66% of candidates want to see company culture over everything else. To take advantage of this preference, consider enhancing your Company Page with a LinkedIn Career Page.

Career Pages allow you to target audiences with a personalized look into your company, culture, and career opportunities. They give you dedicated Life and Career Information Tabs on your Company Page that attracts and engage relevant professionals.

In addition to creating Career Pages, encourage employees to share job postings and “day in the life” content as well. This gives visitors a genuine idea of what it’s like to work for you and adds to your authenticity. If you have a few employees who lead the pack in sharing content, consider linking them to your Company Page’s Life Tab. Their shared articles and recent updates will automatically populate, providing visitors with up-to-date information. Watch our video below on how to use the Life Tab to attract the right talent for your company.

When building an all-star team make sure to do a salary comparison to help with hiring decisions.

  1. Hire Freelancers

You’ve probably had an employee who took on a task outside of their domain. You might have even done it yourself a few times. While the effort is commendable, learning on the fly can also be detrimental.

Fortunately, finding the right talent for the task at hand isn’t as tricky as it once was, even if you can’t afford the salary of a full-time employee.

LinkedIn ProFinder enables you to post your projects, receive free proposals, and hire trustworthy professionals all in one place. ProFinder will even pair you with local professionals to ensure you have the best experience possible. With 172 professional services available on ProFinder, it’s easy to find the perfect professional for any task.

LinkedIn vets all the professionals on the platform to ensure they are qualified and leverages your network to find entrepreneurs your connections have used, so you’re never in the dark about who you’re hiring.

By encouraging entrepreneurship, you get access to outside perspectives & broad experience of professionals of all kinds, from creating websites and designing logos to managing your books or crafting your marketing strategy. Plus, with none of the management or competitive salary overhead of a full-time employee, you can focus solely on the job at hand.


Article by LinkedIn Careers

How to Make Facebook’s 2018 Algorithm Change Work for your Business

As you may already be aware, on January 11, 2018, Facebook announced a major change to its News Feed algorithm that will profoundly impact brands’ ability to reach people on Facebook through organic distribution. The change prioritizes interactions between friends and family over company-generated posts, meaning that content consumed directly from business pages on Facebook will shrink and content that is shared & talked about between friends will grow.

In particular, posts that generate “interactions” such as comments and shares will be weighted more heavily than a post that generates just likes or reactions. In addition, posts with longer comments will be weighted more heavily than those with short ones.

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“Interactions” is the new “Engagement”

Many news organizations and blogs are decrying the move, using terms such as “apocalyptic”, “betrayal” and “nail in the coffin”. We here at Reshift Media are not quite as pessimistic as others about the changes. We believe that the reduction (or even the possible elimination) of the “engagement bait” posts that have been dominating Facebook’s News Feed for far too long is a major opportunity for high-quality organizations with strong customer engagement strategies to finally stand out from the crowd.

Declining organic reach is nothing new. Facebook has been decreasing the amount of organic reach brands are able to achieve for some time – from 50% to 20% to 10% to 5% and most recently down to around 2.5%, on average. Smart brands and agencies that have already been pursuing engagement strategies and building solid content to adjust for this declining reach should see less impact than brands whose Facebook content gets little shares or comments.

The changes to the News Feed are happening quickly, so we recommend brands and agencies adjust their Facebook strategies as soon as possible to minimize the impact to their reach. We have several recommendations that brands can pursue to not only survive, but potentially thrive, on Facebook going forward.

How Facebook’s News Feed is Changing

Facebook announced last week that they are updating the News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts that create conversations and interactions between people. In their definition, these are posts that people share and react to, and that “inspire back-and-forth discussion” in the comments.

“We’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Mr. Zuckerberg also stated that people browsing Facebook will see more content from friends and family and less from brands and publishers. In addition, posts that generate comments, shares, and messages will be prioritized more than posts that only generate likes. Not only that, but Facebook has also stated that posts with longer comments will be weighted more heavily than those with short ones, as longer comments indicate a greater level of engagement with the content.

“As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Of particular note is that Facebook has explicitly said that pre-recorded videos, no matter how entertaining or informative they are, will be de-prioritized in the feed as watching video tends to be a more “passive” exercise that typically does not inspire much conversation. This is a major reversal for Facebook, as video has gained incredible prominence in the News Feed in recent years and has been an effective way for brands to organically generate reach and engagement.

“There will be less video. Video is an important part of the ecosystem. It’s been consistently growing. But it’s more passive in nature. There’s less conversation on videos, particularly public videos.”

– Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, Facebook

However, Facebook has specifically called out live video as a continuing opportunity, citing that live videos tend to generate six times as many interactions as regular videos, which is the type of person-to-person interaction they are looking for in the updated News Feed.

A bit of a surprise to some people was that both Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook vice president Adam Mosseri have mentioned Facebook Groups as a growing opportunity for person-to-person interactions. In fact, Mr. Zuckerberg specifically mentioned Groups alongside friends and family as an area of content people can expect to see more of in their News Feed. This is something that has been in the works for some time, as Facebook has been recently increasing their focus on Groups and implementing several improvements. The company held its first ever “Communities Summit” in June 2017 where they announced a number of new features for Group admins to support their communities on Facebook, which looks to have been a precursor to this latest New Feed update. They also announced Groups for Business pages, allowing brands to create their own distinct communities and feeds.

“You can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

The timing of the update has not been specifically outlined, but Facebook has indicated that the philosophy of encouraging “social interactions” more than “popularity” will be rolled out across all of their products over several months. The News Feed is the first area that will see these changes, which are expected to be rolled out very quickly.

Why Facebook is Changing the News Feed

Although many people have speculated that these changes are being made in response to the issues Facebook has faced regarding “fake news,” the company is has indicated that the update is not aimed at their ongoing efforts to address this concern.

“It’s not about addressing false news or other forms of problematic content, though that is a continued area of focus and investment for us.”

– Adam Mosseri, Head of News Feed, Facebook

Instead, Facebook says that the motivation for the changes is to improve people’s happiness and well-being. Instead of simply spending time on Facebook, the company says that it wants the time to be “well spent”. To support this position, Facebook has cited studies conducted by academics and by the company itself which differentiate “bad” effects of social media when it is being passively consumed versus more “positive” effects when the person is actively engaged.

Here’s a brief summary of the rationale (as provided by Facebook in a December 15, 2017 post):

The bad: In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward. In one experiment, University of Michigan students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than students assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook. A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey. Though the causes aren’t clear, researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison — and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often more curated and flattering. Another theory is that the internet takes people away from social engagement in person.

The good: On the other hand, actively interacting with people — especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improvements in well-being. This ability to connect with relatives, classmates, and colleagues is what drew many of us to Facebook in the first place, and it’s no surprise that staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community.

A study we conducted with Robert Kraut at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who sent or received more messages, comments and Timeline posts reported improvements in social support, depression, and loneliness. The positive effects were even stronger when people talked with their close friends online. Simply broadcasting status updates wasn’t enough; people had to interact one-on-one with others in their network. Other peer-reviewed longitudinal research and experiments have found similar positive benefits between well-being and active engagement on Facebook.

Others have speculated that the update is designed to force brands to buy more advertising to reach their desired audience – essentially ending the “free ride” brands have enjoyed since Facebook’s inception. While we can’t say if this is indeed one of the motivations driving the update, there is little doubt that the change will result in brands spending more ad dollars on Facebook to reach their current and prospective customers.

Facebook has publicly stated that they believe the update may actually decrease the amount of time people spend on their platform, but that ultimately people will be happier with their overall experience. If the amount of time people spend does in fact decrease, this will likely contribute to the inflation of advertising costs, as there will be more brands attempting to buy ads in an environment of shrinking inventory.

“I want to be clear: by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

– Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

This blog post is the first of a 4-part series. Read what’s next:


Jen McDonnell

VP of Content and Social Media. Jen has worked in online journalism for a decade, most recently as the Managing Editor and Director of Dose.ca

Post first seen on Reshift Media. Click here for the original post.

5 Tips to Get The Most Out Of Your Chamber Membership in the New Year!

A chamber of commerce membership is oh-so-much more than just an “I’m a proud member!” sticker to put on the front door of your business. Member benefits like website listings, participation in exclusive promotions, invites to chamber events, and more put you at the forefront of the community when you’re a member of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

But Chamber membership is a two-way street. While there are certain benefits you’ll receive year after year with your membership — interactive listings on our website, printed listing in The Chamber directory, invites to events, etc. — there is certainly a way to get more bang for your buck no matter what investment level you come in at. Let us highlight a few ways to get the most out of your membership.

1.) Attend Chamber Events

This one is a pretty obvious membership benefit that often goes overlooked by many. While we understand that you won’t be able to attend EVERYTHING with the dozens of networking events, workshops, and lunches we hold throughout the year, it doesn’t hurt to show up to an event once or twice if your schedule allows. This is a great way to get your name out there and to meet other business professionals in our community. Chamber events aren’t open to business owners or management only – staffers, please come!

2.) Interact with us on Social Media

Want to know a great way to get a conversation rolling online? Tag us in your posts! We’re active on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Instagram to name a few. Chances are if you tag us in a photo or post, we’ll give you some social media lovin’ back. That means more interaction for your profile, and for The Chamber. Win-win!

3.) Post on our Website

With your Chamber membership comes exclusive access to sarasotachamber.com for you to post events, coupons, job postings and more. Use this access – you pay for it! The Chamber fields dozens of phone calls and email traffic every week with people looking for events, jobs, and deals. We can’t offer your awesome information if we don’t have it!

4.) Submit Your News

This one goes hand-in-hand with what was previously mentioned. When you have some newsworthy information to share, send it our way in the Press Release Tool located on the website! We’re always looking to brag about the amazing things our members are doing. Whether your business recently completed a remodeling project, your staff headed out to the community for a volunteer day, your business won an award, or you have other great news to share — we want to know about it so we can share your news on our social media pages, add to the news section of our website, and send member news out in our email newsletters.

5.) Reach Out

Is there an area of your business that could really use some help? Maybe you’re looking for some creative marketing ideas or want to form partnerships with other business professionals in town. Whatever it may be, always be sure to reach out to us here at The Chamber to see if we can help make some connections. If we don’t have immediate answers, just give us some time to think about things and point you in the right direction.

If there are any membership benefits that you have questions about or think that you might be under-utilizing, give us a call or set up a meeting! We want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your investment. Utilizing your membership benefits makes your business, our organization, and our community stronger.


If you have any questions about getting the most out of your membership, we want to hear from you! Please feel free to call Craig McGonigal, our Membership Engagement Manager at The Chamber at 941-556-4034 or shoot him an email at cmgonigal@sarasotachamber.com.

Member Tip Monday: How to Create a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy for Your Business

Social media can be a nice distraction and a considerable time suck. But if you’re doing it for your business, you need it to be much more. So how do you make sure that you’re using your time there efficiently?

This article offers you the steps you need to create a solid social media marketing strategy for actionable items.

1. Know Why You’re There

Before any campaign, whether it’s marketing, social media, or even a military campaign, it’s important to know why you’re there. What are you trying to accomplish? The answer to this will help you create the tactics that will get you there. You can’t forge a path without some idea of where you’re going.

Action item: Create 1-2 SMART goals around what you’d like to accomplish with social media for your business.

2. Understand Who You’re Trying to Reach

Marketing messaging is very personalized these days. But it’s impossible to personalize your messaging without knowing your target audience. You don’t need the world to love you. You just need to focus on those who would have a need for your product or service. And to do that, you must know who they are.

Action item: Create buyer personas so you know who you’re talking to.

3. Do Research on Your Demographic

Now that you know who they are, find out where your customers are on social media. If you’re fortunate enough to have an email list, you might be able to use emails to locate where they are online but if you don’t, take what you know about your buyer personas and match them to the demographics for each social media site.

You have a limited amount of time in your day so don’t try to be everywhere on social. You’ll likely spread yourself too thin. Instead, concentrate your efforts on where your customers and potential customers are.

Action item: Find out where your ideal customers are on social media by doing research on demographics on the most popular social media sites.

4. Create Tactics That Move You Towards Your Goals

Having goals isn’t enough in social media. Let me show you why. Let’s say your goal is to increase blog shares by 50% by the end of October 2017. That’s a nice measurable goal. It has a deadline and a number assigned to it. You can easily figure out how you would assess whether you were successful or not.

But how in the world are you going to do it?

Tactics move you towards that goal. Perhaps you will:

  • Post more frequently changing from once a week to every day.
  • Share your content to a newly-formed LinkedIn group.
  • Ask for the shares.
  • Approach 5 industry influencers every Tuesday.
  • Start accepting guest blog posts and asking them to share their posts with their network.

There are many ways to get there. You just need to choose a few and get to work.

Action item: Review your goals and map out tactics of how you will get there. Assign them dates, times, and ownership. If no one owns them, they won’t get done.

5. Implement and Analyze

After you have a social media plan constructed from your goal(s) and tactics targeted at your ideal customer, it’s time to take your business’ current pulse and begin tracking your work and its effectiveness towards meeting your goals. Social media is not an exact science. It requires experimentation and adjusting your path according to what you deduce about your audience’s preferences. This type of analysis is ongoing so make sure you budget in both time and money for it.

Action item: Set up Google Analytics and create social media campaigns to be able to watch how your strategy implementation is moving you towards your business goals.

Finally, get a little help from your friends. Social media is always changing. Today’s best practices could make you look like a rookie tomorrow. It’s important to stay on top of social media and assess your strategies periodically not just to ensure they are effective at helping you reach your goals but to make sure they are still best practices in the industry.

Keeping up on all of this while managing your business isn’t easy. Turn to your friends at the chamber for social media curriculum, knowledge, or assistance that can help you stay on top of changes without the time involved in researching them on your own.


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.

She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

Advertising Opportunities in 2018

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce provides multiple affordable visibility opportunities for our members. Advertising through The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is a great way to reach out to the business community and showcase your products and services. Two popular publications that many members find value in promoting their business through is the Chamber Buzz E-Newsletter and the Chamber Bridge Digital Magazine. The SarasotaChamber.com website offers banner ad space throughout the website to build your visibility.

The Chamber Buzz E-Newsletter

Published each Monday, reaches over 4,500 business people in the Greater Sarasota area on a weekly basis. The Chamber Buzz highlights Chamber news and events.

Buzz Ad Example

Chamber Buzz Ad Rates

The Chamber Bridge Magazine

Our quarterly digital publication distributed to 5,000 business professionals in the area. The Bridge highlights Chamber member benefits, photos of events and recognizes members accomplishments. View the Bridge Magazine here.

bride ad example

Bridge Magazine Ad Rates

Website Advertising

The Chamber’s website receives 10,000 visits per month making it a highly visible and trafficked area for advertisers. Whether you are looking to connect with other Chamber members or visitors coming to the area this is a great way to expand your reach.

Orioles Ad Wide Sarasota Corporate-18_728x90

Website Ad Rates


If you are interested or have questions regarding Chamber Advertising, please contact Brittany Lamont at blamont@sarasotachamber.com or 941-556-4040.