Sarasota Film Festival Celebrates 20 Years

This year we celebrate our 20th Anniversary of the Sarasota Film Festival.  The 10-day festival will showcase 90 features, 131 shorts and will take place in Downtown Sarasota from April 13 – 22, 2018.

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Our In Conversation With series features in-depth interviews with Eric Stoltz whose award-winning feature Class Rank will open the SFF, Oscar-nominated Virginia Madsen, seasoned actor Steve Guttenberg and Academy Award-nominated director, producer and philanthropist Rory Kennedy.

The educational program will expand this year with the introduction of the 20 Hour Film Contest. As in our past festivals, we continue to provide programming of, by, and for students within the Sarasota-Manatee region.

This year’s special edition poster was designed by local Kelsey Hunt-Dolan, a graduate of New College of Florida.  The iconic statue of David, which serves as the city’s official symbol and the Roman numerals “XX” on the poster commemorates the 20 year anniversary of the festival.

For more information and tickets to the 20th Anniversary Sarasota Film Festival, please visit www.sarasotafilmfestival.com.

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Where Our Delegation Stands

On January 9th, the Florida Legislature began it’s 2018 Regular Session. Much of what transpires over the next 60-days can have a significant impact on our region and on your business. From the bills to the budget, your elected officials are hard at work shaping next year’s path for the state of Florida. We want you to be tuned into what funding and legislation your local delegates are working on in Tallahassee this year.

Please click on the images to view a list of those current efforts:

 

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Siesta Key Crystal Classic Opens This Weekend!

The Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival starts this weekend, November 10-13, 2017. The master sculptors, coming to us from all over the world, will create sand masterpieces, some over ten feet tall, and transform the always beautiful Siesta Beach into an outdoor art gallery. These renowned artists will produce spectacular, ephemeral works of art from just sand and water.

 

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Siesta Key Crystal Classic, November 10-13

 

This year the festival will be open until 9 pm on Friday and Saturday nights with live music, lighted sculpture displays, and drinks from the party tent. Reverand Barry & The Funktastic Soul will be playing Friday night with One Night Rodeo taking the stage on Saturday night!

The festival also features live music all four days, a large shopping village, and a variety of food and drink vendors. Other activities include the “Quick Sand” speed sculpting competition, sand sculpting lessons & demos, an amateur competition, and The Learning Curve – Kid’s Art & Science Lab.

Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 65+ and military personnel, $5 for children 5-17 and under 5 is free. See the full 2017 festival schedule on the website: www.siestakeycrystalclassic.com.


The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is a proud in-kind sponsor of the Siesta Key Crystal Classic International Sand Sculpting Festival. 

4 BEGINNING TWITTER TIPS FOR BUSINESS

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From 2014-2015 the number of Twitter users grew by 50 million, and it’s estimated that close to 1/5 of Internet users have Twitter accounts. The average Twitter user follows 5 businesses so if you’re not trying to reach your customers on Twitter you’re missing an opportunity.

Twitter is easy enough to understand, just share something 140 characters or less. You can share links, images, or videos. Here are a few other tips for businesses just starting out on Twitter:

Use Hashtags

Twitter is as hard to follow as the ticker tape on a stock page. It’s a constant barrage of messaging, particularly for those accounts that follow a lot of people. Hashtags, or pound signs (#), help people search for the information they want.

Using an appropriate hashtag can expand your business’ reach and help potential customers find what they’re looking for. Employ one specific to your business and use hashtags that are relevant. For instance, Jake’s Jewelry Store might use all, or any, of the following hashtags in tweets with images of gifts for mom: #jakes, #mothersday, #gift.

You can also use popular hashtags of trending topics, when applicable, like #marchmadness or #50shadesofgrey.

Share Images

This tip applies to most of social media but Twitter will display images prominently in the stream so it’s a good way to get your followers’ attention.

Rise Above the Noise

Find ways to stand out from others who are merely posting articles they’ve written. Ask questions. Have conversations. Thank people for sharing your content.

One of the easiest ways to create loyal followers, at least initially, is through commenting on what they share – either by providing your own opinions or asking them follow-up questions.

Avoid sending out automated thank you messages to new followers. While the concept seems nice – thanking them for following you – they come off as exactly what they are, robotic. Plus many Twitter users don’t check their messages box because of a large number of these they receive.

In addition to finding customers and potential customers on Twitter, it’s good to connect with influencers in your industry or audience such as mommy bloggers or niche bloggers.

Follow the Golden Rule

To follow back or not to follow back. That is the question and the answer for business is follow back, or do unto others as you would like them to do to you.

There are exceptions to this rule.

Twitter will cap you at 5,000 following (people you follow) if your followers (number of people who follow you) are not fairly equal. For instance, if you followed 2,000 people but only 500 followed you, Twitter will not allow you to follow any more until those numbers get within (about) 200 of each other. Twitter won’t tell you the exact number that it takes but you will be limited until those follower numbers rise.

You also don’t want your followers and following number too far off of one another because:

  • If you are following too many people, and a relatively equal number is not following you back, it looks like you’re not sharing worthwhile information.

On the other hand,

  • If a lot of people are following you and you’re only following a handful, you look like a bit of a jerk. That’s okay for reality TV stars but people who are using Twitter for business should be a little more congenial.

You can manage your Twitter followers through tools like ManageFlitter, Followerwonk (a Moz app) or Friend or Follow. Many of these tools can help you tell which accounts are spambots or fake accounts or inactive accounts. (You don’t want to spend time engaging those.) They also help you isolate influencers in your area.

There are pages and pages of tips written on topics like Twitter for business but the best thing to keep in mind is your humanity. Don’t make it all about your business and be gracious. Find ways to connect with people on a more personal level and imagine every tweet you’re sending could be seen by your grandmother, unless you’re in the type of business you don’t want your grandmother to know about.


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 Memberclicks.

Congratulations, Janet & Sharon as Ambassadors of the Quarter!

Congratulations, Janet Arena!

Janet Arena HeadshotJanet was born in Philadelphia.  Lived most of her youth on a farm in Bucks County. Went to Penn State—majored in business education. Very active in a service sorority, cheerleading, and the theater. Went on to Pittsburgh where she taught two years before going to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in East Africa where she taught business procedures to government employees. While there, she took the challenge of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro which she did in three days—19,340 feet (with no oxygen).

Came back to the U.S. where she taught at Suffolk Community College and Nassau Community College on Long Island. At the same time, she completed her Master’s Degree at Columbia University.

Janet moved to Connecticut where she accepted the position of Chairperson of the three high schools in Milford, CT. In 1979, she became President and co-owner of Stone Academy, a business and medical training post-secondary institute.

She moved to Florida in 2003. After working at various jobs throughout the area, she accepted the position in the Marketing Department at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. She is presently involved in various committees for four Chambers, ushers at seven venues, house manager at Venice Theater, serves on the Gala Committees for Goodwill, Save Our Seabirds and the American Cancer Society, works Meals on Wheels every Saturday; Vice President of the Penn State Alumni Association; Executive Committee member and treasurer for the Big Ten Alumni Group.


Congratulations, Sharon Litchfield!

 

Sharon Litchfield HeadshotSharon has lived in the Sarasota community for over 40 years and has been married to Andy for 32 years, with one son, Adam, both of which keep her grounded. They have two rescue dogs, Levi and Ziggy, who are inseparable and a joy every day. Sharon enjoys all activities that Sarasota provides, from walking the Ringling Bridge to exploring what downtown has to offer on a regular basis and all the festivals that Sarasota brings to our community. She loves traveling and exploring other areas outside Sarasota and look forward to many fun trips this summer.

Sharon will be celebrating 27 years at one of the finest private golf clubs in Sarasota, FL, home to the Champions TOUR from 1986 through 2001 as part of the PGA TOUR Golf Course Property Inc. clubs for over 17 years at TPC Prestancia in Sarasota.

Sharon’s involvement with The Chamber is extensive as she serves on three different councils within Thc Chamber: Chamber Ambassadors, Member Services & Small Business Support Council, and the Finance Committee.

In 2014, she returned to USFSM to pursue her Masters in Hospitality and Technology Leadership and graduated in April 2017. Her involvement in many fundraising charitable organizations over the past 25 years includes United Way, Susan G. Komen, MDA, BBBS, Southeastern Guide Dogs and Be The Match Foundation as a Registered Bone Marrow Donor.

Sharon’s philosophy that you need to give back to your community and give to those in need to have a meaningful life.


Congratulations, to both Janet & Sharon! We greatly appreciate the dedication that you give to The Chamber and to The Chamber Ambassadors’ program. Janet and Sharon’s longstanding commitment through The Chamber Ambassadors and other Chamber Programs, make them excellent representatives of The Chamber and its’ programs. Thank you & keep up the great work!

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For information on the Chamber Ambassadors program or to join, please contact Megan Neal or Craig McGonigal

Partnering to Build Your Business

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

1945 Fruitville Road | Sarasota, FL 34236

http://www.SarasotaChamber.com

6 Ways to Make the Most of Small Business Week

National Small Business Week 2017 is right around the corner… literally as we turn over our calendars to start May. Now, you’re probably asking yourself how you can support our local small business in Sarasota (at least that’s what I’m hoping you’re asking yourself!). We’ve come up with six simple ways for you get involved in National Small Business Week, April 30 through May 6, whether you own and operate a small business, employed by one, or just enjoy shopping locally!

Run Small Business Week Promotions

Need some inspiration? Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Reward Loyalty: offer coupons and discounts to your most loyal customers during this week. You can add coupons to your Chamber Directory listing here!

Seasonal Themed Promotions: make this week extra relevant by making spring/summer and outdoor items on sale or by offering warm weather services at a discount (such as A/C Repair or Landscaping).

Special Holiday & Fun Observance Promotions: Get ahead of the game by making Mother’s Day (5/14) & Father’s Day (6/18) gift packages or coupons with purchase that can be redeemed on fun observance days like Bike to Work Day (5/18) or Martini Day (6/19).

Support Other Local Businesses

Take a couple minutes on your way to work to stop into a local small business, snap a photo to share on social media and tag them in it (also, send your photos to communications@sarasotachamber.com so we can share your photos, too!).  Offer special discounts or service to other Small Business Owners. Strengthening your support for another small business will strengthen your messaging to your target audience and will encourage them to support you, too.

Don’t Dip Your Toe In, Jump In

Showing up is 50% of winning. Don’t just promote the week, participate in the week! Google is hosting free webinars and workshops all throughout the week focused on topics important to small businesses. So remember, there is an educational component to the week, as well.

Team Up

Team up with other local businesses to cross-promote each other. Expand your reach by hosting a joint sale, offer to put their business cards or coupons in your storefront for yours in theirs. For maximum success, think of a complementary business to partner with, like fitness centers with nutrition stores or hair salons with boutiques, for example.

Update Your Listings

With more focus on small business during this week, in addition to any promotions you may run, you’re likely to see increased traffic to your website and social media accounts. It’s so simple to update your listings. This means your Chamber Listing, Google listing, Yelp, Social Media Pages (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.), need to have accurate information displayed for customers to find you.

As a small business owner, the last thing you want is a person learning of a promotion you’re running, but not being able to find your business or get the information to be able to make a purchase. Don’t let misinformation deter your customers!

Leverage Your Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA IS FREE! Use it. There are countless ways to utilize social media to your benefit business during Small Business Week!

Use popular hashtags like #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessWeek.

Follow the U.S. Small Business Administration on social media for updates during the week: Twitter @SBAgov and Facebook facebook.com/sbagov

Create a custom hashtag for your business or a promotion you are running.

Tag neighboring small businesses and use local hashtags to spark conversation.

Establish a theme for your Small Business Week social media posts.

While your out shopping at your favorite Chamber Member small businesses, snap a picture and send it to Communications@SarasotaChamber.com to be featured on our social media!

Encouraging awareness, building community, and expressing your passion for small business is the mission for National Small Business Week! Showing passion for small business will encourage your target audience to support you and other small businesses, as well. Have fun with the week and remember to put your money where your home is!

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To search The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s Membership Directory, please click here.


Partnering to Build Your Business

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

1945 Fruitville Road | Sarasota, FL 34236

http://www.SarasotaChamber.com

From the Chair’s Corner: Small Business is Big Business

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is committed to the support of business in

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Chair | George McGonagill | Questar Construction

the greater Sarasota region. As is common in most communities, your Chamber is certainly reflective of the community that invests in it. For Sarasota, that means that your Chamber is comprised mainly of businesses that carry less than 75 full-time employees. In fact, 80% of your membership is made up of those businesses.

Having worked for one of the largest employers in the region, Sarasota County Schools, and now as an entrepreneur with a small business, Questar Construction, I can say with certainty that the Chamber strongly supports the full spectrum of business sizes here in our area. However, it is the small business that drives so much of the economic engine in Sarasota and within your Chamber. It may come as a surprise to many that more than 60% of businesses in the United States have less than five employees. Furthermore, over 30% of workers in the United States are employed by businesses with less than 100 employees.

To be certain, regardless of size, business isn’t an easy endeavor. However, it is the small-business start-up that perhaps best embodies the spirit of entrepreneurialism. Roughly half of all small businesses will close within their first four years. That alone may speak to the importance of community support for small business. Those making the trek forward are our friends, family, and neighbors. It is critical for all layers of the community to support their efforts in hopes that our half is the half that succeeds, that our community be the place where small business beats the average. That’s not just something that would be nice, it is something we should strive for.

The Chamber is focused on promoting, supporting, and connecting the small businesses in our region. We are proud to include our annual Small Business Awards as a bridge across the entire spectrum of activities within those areas of focus. As we look to celebrating excellence in the small business community, I am always reminded of the fact that small business is big business in Sarasota. While your Chamber takes the opportunity to award small business excellence one day each year, it provides support for those businesses non-stop, all year long.

George McGonagill

Chair of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors

President of Questar Construction, Inc.


The 2017 Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Small Business Awards will take place on Friday, June 2 at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. The event is presented by The Herald-Tribune Media Group.

Save Your Seat for Small Business Awards!