An essential skill for any entrepreneur the ability to create meaningful connections via networking, also called network development. Creating connections with customers both old and new is important but creating a network of other entrepreneurs and business owners provides value customers can't provide. Typically this comes in the form of insights and ideas from various industry experts looking to exchange tips and advice.
In its simplest form, networking is defined as making social connections with a business objective. If your goal is to receive more value than you give in the process, your efforts will have only short term rewards. With that in mind, go about your network development with long-term goals of giving more than you receive.
At this juncture, you may be wondering how you can go about network development. Every year, businesses across the world come together in different forums. Some of the participants of these events is a group of highly-skilled entrepreneurs with a common idea. They aim to generate, share, and develop ideas as well as meet potential investors and industry experts. The entrepreneurs want to add the right people around them and form meaningful relationships.
Finding Potential Networking Groups
For most people, networking is talking to friends and family members as part of their social network. Networking as a business has a more focused approach on finding like minded individuals even if the company they represent is in a different industry. Creating a network with as many points of view as possible is ideal in helping find solutions to future problems. If an entrepreneur has never looked into creating a network, we've put together some tactics to help them approach networking and how to leverage it.
Social Media and Entrepreneur Events
Network development doesn't always start in-person, but it sure can kick off your efforts with some big wins. Find events that will attract your peers in your area. Call us at the Chamber for suggestions.
For networking in the digital realm, social media has become a powerful tool for entrepreneurs to make connections. Depending on a brand's identity and target demographic, different platforms will produce better results than others.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great at connecting business owners together. If you're looking for something a bit more professional and targeted than a Facebook group, the reigning king to beat for networking as an entrepreneur is LinkedIn, a social media platform created specifically for businesses to interact. Direct communication between entrepreneurs is as easy as searching for others in your industry to get started.
How To Use a Network of Entrepreneurs
The first point we want to point out isn't about how to bolster business using a network but instead how to maintain motivation. Networking builds relationships that often turn into friendships which is important to help balance the grind needed to be successful and avoid burnout.
These friends are also the ones that may present the most opportunity. An opportunity can come in the form of new sales avenues, investment options, joint ventures and customer or client leads. Depending on the industry, qualified referrals may also come down the funnel which turns into easy conversions later on. Having access to a network of entrepreneurs and their clients comes with increased visibility, especially when communication between business owners happens publicly online or in-person.
When a network is established and leaned into, entrepreneurs can surround themselves with positive influences and even find mentors eager to share their knowledge with fresh minds. The more information gathered, the more confidence an owner has in executing business plans and decisions. We're excited to see new entrepreneurs attending networking events within our community and how they'll use them to expand their business.
Aristotle once equated the essence of life to serving others and doing good. While the philosophy seems like a fulfilling endeavor, it's not quite practical given that we lead super busy lives. With our already jam-packed schedules, it's impossible to think of giving away your time and energy for free without a financial reward.
However, volunteering is beneficial for several reasons, and the best part about it is that it doesn't have to take up much of your time and effort. The advantages of volunteering not only benefit the community, or person receiving the assistance, it also benefits the individual or the organization offering the help.
Such benefits can probably explain why there has been a steady rise in popularity in volunteering in the past few years. Research shows that more than 25% of adults in the United States volunteered from 2008 to 2017, with women taking the lead at a staggering 27.8% against 21.8% of men.
So why is there a spike in volunteering? Well, it seems as though more and more people are starting to realize the immense benefits one can derive from volunteering. People are beginning to see how helping each other benefits all parties involved, and more businesses are joining the helping bandwagon.
Benefits Businesses Derive from Volunteering
Connecting With the Community
A huge benefit that volunteering has is its impact on the community. It allows organizations to connect to the community to improve it. Even helping out with small tasks can make a significant difference to the lives of those in need, and it's a two-way street.
Setting aside time to help others helps employees network and make new contacts and friends by sharing activities. Volunteering allows employees from different companies in the Chamber to meet for a common goal and form connections. These connections made during the volunteering process make for an incredible opportunity to expand business ties outside the organization.
Volunteering Has Immense Health Benefits
Scientists coined a term for the physical effect doing good deeds has on the human body. The term is known as
Teaming employees up outside of the work environment to participate in a worthwhile activity fosters a sense of teamwork. Pulling together to partake in a common goal, especially a community project or charity, helps employees build bonds that last long, thus making for a renewed sense of commitment to the job and one another.
According to research, organizations that integrate social impact into their daily processes can increase sales by about 20% and productivity by 13%. Such organizations also drastically reduce employee turnover while increasing the company's share price by up to 6%.
Volunteering lets employees use their already learned skills to better the community. They can also use the opportunity to acquire a valuable skill that can come in handy in the work environment. Employers don't require financial investment to offer opportunities for employees to develop or enhance their skills.
Increased Brand Awareness
Organizations that go out of their way to help the community by working in new environments usually earn a positive reputation for their good deeds. Nowadays, people want to associate themselves with brands that are working to create change in society. Therefore, volunteering in new or familiar environments helps establish relationships with customers and helps build brand awareness and loyalty.
With the benefits of volunteering being evident, we hope that more enterprises become more involved in helping. The more value we add to others, the better our world becomes. So why not start today?
Communication is a vital cornerstone of any business meeting. As the CEO or team manager, you have to use the best skills to keep your employees motivated towards achieving personal and professional goals. To succeed at this job, you'll have to possess the right communicating skills so that your meetings are smooth, effective, and pleasant for everyone.
Unfortunately, a considerable number of people don't know how to communicate effectively while holding meetings. Ineffective meetings can make you and your employees feel misunderstood, unacknowledged, discouraged, and frustrated. Strong communication will make you feel heard and understood, which leads to positive company culture and a successful business. Therefore, understanding how to run effective meetings is an important part of business gatherings. Continue reading as we outline some vital communication ideas to implement in your meetings.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
When holding a meeting, communicating to your audience involves more than just the usual speech or written mode of communication. Body language also plays a significant part in the way we communicate with other people. Research shows that 55% of your communication is through body language. As a result, you need to pay close attention to your body language. Note that your audience is always keen on your body language, and they make snap judgments based on them. Therefore, before any meeting, think about how you will stand and sit. Adopt a good posture, maintain eye contact with many people in the meeting, and avoid cross body language.
Keep Unnecessary Distractions to a Minimum
Keeping distractions to a bare minimum is essential in improving the quality of your communications in meetings. Try to keep the room soundproofed or choose a location that is far away from background noise and eliminate any possible distractions such as mobile phones. In fact, one study found that up to 80% of employees know that mobile phones can be a significant distraction in meetings. However, approximately 50% of workers still use these gadgets anyway. Before starting any meeting, politely remind your audience to keep their electronic devices like laptops and phones away. This ensures that they pay attention to the messages you convey. If it's necessary to use any devices, restrict them to only those who need them.
Enhance Communication With the Best Technology
You can take advantage of technology to help you organize your thoughts and say the right things. This is primarily applicable in instances where the meeting involves participants in different locations under varying time zones. You will need a software or intelligent device that supports hybrid and remote meetings. Look for a device that provides multimedia and other visual details for clearer communication and incorporates solutions such as Zoom to communicate with remote participants more effectively.
Ask Questions to Bring Others into the Conversation
Although it might not always be possible to involve questions in a meeting, bringing your attendees into the discussion works better than listening to long speeches. However, note that some of your audience may be reluctant to volunteer or answer your questions. You can try asking intelligent questions to push them into offering specific ideas. You can ask random questions aimed at particular individuals or groups, allowing your audience to volunteer in giving answers. This keeps people engaged, and it ensures that everyone understands your message.
Good communication is crucial in ensuring that you have an effective meeting. By implementing the above ideas, you will have productive meetings that deliver the intended objective. The key thing is to pay attention to your body language and also bring attendees into the discussion.
So, your muscles are aching, your bones are cracking like a box of Rice Krispies, and there is even a pop and a snap here or there, thrown in for good measure. You are exhausted, and you need help. Actually, what you need is a really good massage.
Tips for Choosing the Right Massage Therapist for You
What is a massage therapist? Northwestern Health Science University defines it as "Massage therapy is manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person's health and well-being".
Don't just choose the first massage therapist that you see on the internet. Visit a few therapists to review service offerings, availability and pricing before choosing one.
Be High Maintenance
Respectfully request what you want. If the therapist can not or will not meet your needs, move along. This one tip will save you so much time and money.
Look For Credentials
What certifications does this person have? A fly-by-night therapist or someone without experience and training probably won't have any credentials hanging on his or her wall.
It's not sexist to want a certain gender to perform massage therapy services. Massage therapy is supposed to be a relaxing experience. If you are not comfortable with the person intimately touching your body, you won't be relaxed and the entire experience will be awkward.
When are you available to get massages? Are you a busy professional who works 60 hours a week and in need of evening hours? Or, do you run your business from home and need a traveling massage therapist? Review hours of availability and whether a premium is charged for in-home or off-hour services.
Ultimately, choose a massage therapist you're comfortable with and one who takes time to put your needs first.
Storytelling is a major buzzword in the marketing industry these days, and it is an aspect of promoting your business that you cannot afford to ignore. Rather than focusing your marketing efforts on promoting your products or services, the new business model requires telling the story of your brand to help your customers feel connected to and engaged with your business. Follow these tips to do it right.
Stay True to Your Core
When coming up with your "brand story," it is important to stay true to the foundation of your business. For example, if your company manufactures reusable water bottles, you wouldn't want your brand to be associated with anything that is disposable in nature. Instead, you would want to tell a story that coincides with sustainable values. Viewers these days are becoming more and more discerning in terms of the brands they choose to patronize, and they will immediately identify anything disingenuous.
Tug at the Heartstrings
Emotions are incredibly powerful when it comes to influencing consumer behavior, and your brand can use this fact to its advantage. People love seeing stories of triumph over adversity, personal growth and achievement, and giving back to the community, so try to incorporate these or similar storylines into your brand storytelling. Of course, any content you produce should still align with your company goals at the same time as telling your story.
The primary goal of brand storytelling is to get prospective customers excited about your brand. Whether you do this through associating with popular local events or by offering frequent promotions and discounts, the goal is to keep your customer base interested in your offerings and excited about buying from your company rather than your competitors. Aim for a high energy level in your marketing materials and branded content online so that your customers are excited to share your content with their friends and followers, helping to expand your reach even further.
Tie in Your Company's Offerings
At the end of the day, the ultimate purpose of brand storytelling is to attract new customers, and you can't accomplish this without letting people know what your company has to offer. With any content you create, whether it be blog posts, social media posts, advertisements or videos, there should almost always be an element that speaks specifically to your company's products or services. Without this critical aspect, your audience won't know why your brand is sharing its story. You need to help them make the connection between the story and your offerings.
Overall, brand storytelling is about more than just selling products; it is about helping your customers to feel more connected to your business, increasing the likelihood that they will continue to buy your products or services in the future. Keep this end goal in mind at all times to help guide you in creating your brand story. With a bit of creativity and effort, you'll draw in customers and establish dedicated brand loyalty, setting your business up for ongoing success in the future.
Lower Back Pain: Did You Know?
A study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Medicine estimated that over 80 percent of Americans will experience an episode of lower back pain (LBP), over the course of their lifetimes. An estimated 31 million Americans are affected by lower back pain (LBP) at any given time. The American Chiropractic Association notes the following: Low back pain (LBP) is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Outnumbered only by upper-respiratory Infections, back pain is the leading cause of missing work. The average cost of a back injury related workers comp claim can be $40,000 - $80,000 per employee.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that the loss of productivity, (Hours of work lost, days of work missed, and lower wages combined) is over 300 million dollars a year. When the costs of medical care for lower back pain (LBP) is added, the total annual cost rises to over 500 million dollars per annum. In addition, the incidence of chronic lower back pain (LBP) is a major contributor to the opioid crisis, in America.
The above statistics are shocking, and the bottom line is that lower back pain (LBP) affects all businesses. The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce would like to offer some tips on how to choose a chiropractor.
How to Choose a Chiropractor: A Few Good Tips
Choosing to use a chiropractor, much like choosing a General Practitioner, it is a personal and practical decision. If an employee chooses to make use of a chiropractor, here is a little advice.
Do a Little Research Before Making a Final Choice. Know who your doctor is, and what their credentials experience is. Take a little time check reviews. A quick online search for reviews could save you time, money, and frustration. A good chiropractor should be accredited by independent and peer reviewed organizations. The Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) is one the largest such groups in Canada.
Get It for Free. Just like a lawyer, most chiropractors offer a free consultation to discuss your injury and pain, as well as to answer any questions, including future costs.
Know What Your Insurance Will Pay For. You should absolutely know what your insurance plan will pay for additional costs will come out of your pocket!
Should the time come when one of your employees is the next person to suffer lower back pain (LBP), you will now be prepared to offer them some advice. The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce hopes to encourage business owners to be proactive with their employees and thus reduce potential costs.
Spoiler alert! Long-stemmed red roses continue to be the most popular flower for Valentine's Day. But that doesn't mean you can't find beautiful alternatives. Whether you are buying flowers for your wife, mother, daughter, or someone you just started dating, we have this year's most popular Valentine's Day flowers ready to help.
Valentine's Day gifts including flowers, chocolate, and jewelry have been exchanged for centuries. The popularity of the red rose goes back even further, as it was believed to have been the favorite flower of the Goddess of Love, Venus.
This Year's Most Popular Flowers for Valentine's Day
Although we have already mentioned red roses, pink roses are also very popular. They are associated with perfection, beauty, love, and romance, making them apropos for the holiday of love. White roses stand for purity, light pink for admiration and gentleness, and dark pink roses symbolize appreciation.
Red is the color of the day, and red carnations are the second most popular, and less expensive option for Valentine's Day. They are associated with new love and freshness, making carnations the ideal gift for a budding relationship.
Orchids continue to climb up the list as they denote similar meanings as roses, including beauty and love, while adding strength and luxury.
Tulips in red or pink are a popular option for new relationships. As with roses, each color of tulip symbolizes a unique quality. White is for forgiveness and yellow for cheerfulness.
Gardenias represent love, purity and joy. They are one of the most fragrant of Valentine's Day flowers and may be given individually in a bowl.
Peonies represent a prosperous marriage and are the 12th anniversary flower. They are a popular choice for giving to a loved one as they also symbolize romance and good fortune.
Lilies, including stargazers and alstroemerias are popular Valentine's Day choices. They can be mixed in with roses, carnations, and other flowers, or presented as a bunch in a vase. Perhaps the most popular lily for the season is the Casa Blanca lily, which makes a stunning presentation with its large fragrant blooms.
Giving one of this year's most popular flowers for Valentine's Day is the perfect way to show someone you care. Our local florists can help you choose the perfect gift based on your budget and relationship status. Whether you choose a single gardenia or a dozen red roses, they will be a hit.
Looking for a new ride? Shopping for a pre-owned vehicle can help you save thousands of dollars on your next car, van, or light-duty truck, given the steep depreciation rate on new vehicles.
According to data from Edmunds.com, a mid-sized sedan that sells new for $27,660 will lose about $7,419 in value within the first 12 months, despite the fact that most new car warranties extend well beyond the first year of ownership.
Depreciation in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year of ownership slows down significantly - in general, vehicles depreciate less in years 2-4 than they do during the first year of ownership, which is why the top used car dealers focus their business model on delivering savings and great service to their customers.
Today's Used Car Dealers Are Different
In the past, used car dealers were widely viewed as unscrupulous, fly-by-night operators who would take advantage of shoppers by concealing damage and mechanical problems.
Thanks to widespread efforts to improve the image of the used car dealership industry, along with online resources like the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Service (NMVTIS), buying a used car from your local pre-owned dealership is a safe, viable alternative to purchasing a new car.
Better yet, buying used gives you access to vehicles that might otherwise be priced outside of your budget, giving you the chance to shop for a more expensive make or model than you might be able to if you were to buy a new car.
Most used car dealers also offer warranties on the vehicles they sell, giving you the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you're protected against mechanical defects or maintenance issues just like you are with a brand-new vehicle. Known as Certified Pre-Owned programs, these extended used car warranties often come along with added perks like free oil changes, car washes, and special financing options.
Drive Like A Billionaire
If the significant savings on depreciation and extra focus on customer service isn't enough to convince you to consider shopping at your local used car dealer for your next vehicle, maybe this will - Warren Buffet, a.k.a. the "Oracle of Omaha" has long been an advocate of cut-rate cars.
In a BBC documentary about his life, Buffett's daughter disclosed that Buffett liked to buy cars at a steep discount, including cars that had been previously-owned or hail-damaged - despite the fact that Buffet has a net worth of approximately 87.4 billion!
Whether you're getting married for the first time or you're making a repeat trip down the aisle, there's a lot to think about when planning your big day. Thankfully, there are also lots of dedicated wedding experts right here in our community who have the skills and experience it takes to make your big event everything you always dreamed it would be.
Wedding Dresses and Gowns
Wedding dresses are unique in the fact that they don't come ready-made - buying a wedding dress involves choosing your budget, narrowing down the style you like, and having a fitting to try out a variety of dresses.
During your first fitting, plan on wearing the same undergarments and shoes you'll wear on your wedding day, since these both affect the final fit of your dress. You'll be paired up with an expert dress fitter who will make sure you're happy with the color, neckline, and trim - once those details are confirmed, a seamstress will make numerous alterations to give you a truly customized wedding dress.
Whether you plan on having a big formal meal, light appetizers, or even a casual cook-out on your big day, there's plenty of options to choose from in our community. Start by thinking about what kind of food you want to serve, and whether or not you'll be providing alcohol to your guests. Set a budget and contact various vendors for quotes as early as possible - the most popular restaurants and catering companies book up early!
In the past, weddings were usually held in churches, but today's couples are increasingly opting for alternative locations like parks, golf courses, hotels, and even private homes.
Our region offers a wide variety of unique wedding venues which means it's a good idea to start early when looking for your perfect spot to exchange your vows. Some venues also offer on-site wedding services such as food and accommodation, giving you the option of holding your entire event all in one convenient spot.
You've put a lot of thought into planning a renovation for your home or business, you've invested time in researching local contractors and hiring the best one for the job, and you've looked forward to seeing the beautiful results unfold. Unfortunately, things don't always go according to plan. Sometimes it's a small hiccup that you can easily recover from; other times, however, you end up with a massive (and expensive) mess that can only be blamed on your contractor. Here's what to do when your contractor does poor work.
First Things First: Know the Red Flags
Few contractors provide a bad first impression. Most will seem professional at first, but over time, they'll begin to show some warning signs, such as:
Handling a Bad Contractor
If you have a contractor that has done poor work, left you with a huge mess, or perhaps left a job undone, then follow these steps to minimize damage.
Document, Document, Document
Among the most important things you can do when you suspect that your renovation is going to become a bigger headache than anticipated is to document everything. Every single conversation, phone call, email, text message, and every attempt you've made to contact them should be documented. If they've abandoned the job and cannot be reached, send certified letters with return receipt requested, outlining the problems that you're experiencing and ask that they contact you immediately. If you later go to court or seek out the assistance of a third party, these records will play a crucial role in supporting your case.
Use Whatever Leverage You Have
Most contractors agree to accepting a small upfront payment to cover materials and labor and then payment in full when the job is done. If your contractor is dragging out the job, use the money that you still owe them as leverage to encourage them to finish the job. If the job is done, full payment has been provided, and the work ends up being subpar, then the threat of bad publicity may be all it takes to prompt them to come back and make any necessary repairs and improvements. Threaten to take your complaints to a local reporter and post about your negative experience on social media.
If your efforts to resolve the issues yourself aren't yielding the desired results, then it may be time to seek out help. For example, if you've paid your contractor an upfront amount for supplies and he or she ghosted, then obviously that constitutes theft and you should call the police. Other options include pursuing the contractor via the board that approved their license, hiring an attorney, or contacting the Better Business Bureau, your local consumer protection office, or your state's attorney general's office. In the end, you may not be able to recoup your financial loss, but you can have the satisfaction of ensuring that no one else is taken advantage of.
Improving your home or business comes with risks. As with any large project, taking the time to thoroughly vet the people that you're entrusting with your renovation can prevent a lot of frustration later on.