Posted in Business Articles, Content Marketing, Housekeeping

Cleaning Up Your Networking Plan for Convention

600600p3069EDNmain692business card networking 300x250Networking – like any other business activity – requires a plan, measurement, and correction/improvement if you’re to be successful at it.

With over 16,000 people to meet at the annual ISSA/INTERCLEAN Trade Show and associated conventions for ARCSI, BSCAI, and IEHA, your post-convention tasks can stack up pretty quickly. It’s easy to get bogged down in turning new marketing strategies into a marketing plan for the next year. It’s even easy to make a list of all of your products, prices, and long-term costs and make some supply switches. But what usually gets lost in the melee is your follow-up networking. After all, the people you meet are the most constant and the most concrete resources you’ve acquired at the convention.

Networking is perhaps the single most effective tool you have toward meeting your business goals. Whether you are trying to buy a business to expand your empire, sell your business, add divisions and specialties toward diversification, solve a problem or exploit an opportunity, a healthy and thriving network offers you the opportunity to talk to experts on any issue you might have, especially business owners who have “been there; done that.”

Now before you begin to craft a networking plan, know upfront that networking is money-cheap but time-expensive. As you create your plan and work through each step, be careful to make choices that clearly benefit your business. Your time is expensive, and you want to be able to measure the ROI of your networking.

 

1. Start networking before the convention

Yes, your networking starts before you actually meet anyone. All of the organizations convening in Las Vegas next week provide a list of others who are exhibiting and sponsoring various events.

The key here is to think of the vendors not simply as suppliers. With many having more years in the cleaning industry than the average cleaning business, these vendors are rich resources. They work closely with cleaning contractors on a daily basis and spend their time developing solutions to custom projects and unique problems. And they are also humble; if they can’t give you the insight you are looking for, odds are they will know someone who can.

 

Of particular value is the ISSA app where you can browse the list of more than 690 vendors who will be showing at ISSA/INTERCLEAN. Using this app and the online schedules from the other associations, you can review vendors and presenters you’d like to meet. Reach out to them NOW and make appointments to meet, even if for only 15 minutes.

You may also be able to review a list of association members who are registered for the conventions; take a look at those names, think of who has been a thought leader on LinkedIn or other professional discussion boards, and reach out to make plans to meet those people as well.

 

2. Organize those names and contact information

Between business cards, flyers, presentation handouts, and random notes on napkins, receipts, and tiny slips of paper, sorting through the collection of new contacts can be daunting.

With each contact you gain, jot down a note on their card about how you think you might work with that person now or in the future at the time you meet him/her.

Later, you’ll be able to make priority piles based on when you think you’ll want to work with them: 3 months, 6 months, 12 months. A twelve month pile is as long as you want to go because, if they’re still around in 12 months, you should see them again next year at the convention.

 

3. Send each a personalized message

Set a schedule for sending out personalized messages to each of those contacts. For your 3-month pile, make it a priority to get that message out about 10 days after the convention ends. Why delay? You want to avoid getting caught in the pile of emails that stacked up while you were all at the convention together.

It’s equally as important to follow up quickly with the folks in your longer-term piles. You’ll want to establish and nurture a good relationship with those new contacts so that later when you’re ready to initiate a project together, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

So what should you write in these messages? Business writing expert Lynn Gaertner-Johnston offers a simple formula for that first message, one that is designed to promote continued dialogue:

  1. Mention the meeting and conversation – to jog their memory
  2. Refer to something specific from that conversation, especially something you want to make a mutually-beneficial activity
  3. Suggest a way to continue the conversation – a meeting, phone call, site visit, etc.
  4. Attach an article or include a link that supports and strengthens your connection
  5. Tell them what you will do next in relation to your connection

Click here for examples.

 

4. Connect in a variety of methods

It’s easy to get stuck in the electronic mode – connecting by email – but don’t forget that phone calls and even face-to-face with local representatives can lead to even richer networking opportunities.

  • Enter the contact into your address book – whether that’s manual or electronic
  • Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other shared platforms
  • Sign up for each other’s newsletters – yes, encourage even the vendors to sign up for your business’s newsletter to give them a way to keep up with your business without always having to call you and ask what’s going on.

What happens from there is largely dependent on the success of that first follow-up communication you sent out. Be sure to track those messages and continue to reach out when at first you don’t succeed:

  • Did the recipient respond?
  • Did the recipient respond in the way you asked or expected?
  • What is your next move?
  • Did you put it on your to-do list and your calendar with a deadline?

As with all business activities, a clear, decisive plan of action, a method for measuring success, and the opportunity for course correction and improvement are essential for networking to be successful…until next year’s convention when you’ll add a whole new group of new connections to your network!

Originally published November 12, 2013 at CleaningBusinessToday.com.

Posted in Being Healthy, Content Marketing, Housekeeping

First Attempt at Comprehensive Database of Household Cleaning Products

healthy cleaningThe Environmental Working Group has been teasing us for about six months about their new Guide to Healthy Cleaning. EWG scientists have examined in the laboratory and rated for safety over 2000 household cleaning products, from laundry detergent to bathroom cleaner to air freshener. And, yes, some of these include the professional products used by the elite cleaning companies around the country.

So how does this new guide and database add value to the professional cleaning industry?

VALIDATION: Many in the cleaning industry have been citing medical and chemical studies that suggest the effect of cleaning products on the increased frequency and severity of many mutagenic diseases such as cancer and reproductive disabilities.

CONSUMER AWARENESS: The more a consumer feels he/she has control over purchasing and lifestyle decisions, the better decisions that consumer can make. One of those “better” decisions is to trust and employ the cleaning company who’s been saying this all along!

CHEMICAL FREE CLEANING: We’ve been advancing the study of safety and efficacy of many cleaning products and equipment toward the development of Chemical Free Cleaning…where no one would need a database like this because the only ingredient is tap water!

REFERENCES: When you search for a specific product or product line, not only do you get EWG’s safety ratings; you’ll also see a list of the ingredients and the various regulatory and/or scientific sources that list their effect on humans. These range from surface irritation to reproductive interruptions to known cancer effects.

CAVEAT: Just because the data revealed through the guide came largely from the science laboratory doesn’t mean that the recommendations come from cleaning professionals. We’ve already spotted a few recommendations that do more to advance home cleaning myths than scientifically validated cleaning or disinfecting methodologies. Here are two reminders just about vinegar…or maybe some new information for those who haven’t yet taken the IICRC House Cleaning Technician Certification class:

Vinegar doesn’t clean or disinfect: vinegar’s use in the cleaning procedure was born of the need to rinse clean the residue left from an alkaline cleaning solution, which is more commonly needed than an acidic cleanser. Vinegar’s acidity neutralized and rinsed clean the residue, leaving a nice, clear shine. Thus was born the legend of the vinegar cleaner.

Vinegar as a disinfectant is based on scientific supposition, not any actual disinfection studies; to be a preservative, vinegar must have some positive effect on keeping bacteria at bay, but as yet, no studies have shown that it actually sanitizes or disinfects to the level of making your counter safe from chicken juice bacteria.

Originally published June 10, 2013 at CleaningBusinessToday.com.

Posted in Being Healthy, Business Articles, Content Marketing, Housekeeping

Profile of the Ideal Chemical Free Cleaner

600600p3069EDNmain83profile_seitzScientists and health professional still seeking the “perfect” disinfectant.

The healthcare profession has long held a reasonably common set of criteria for the ideal disinfectant:

  • be fast acting, even in the presence of organic substances, such as those in body fluid (resistant to inactivation)
  • be effective against all types of infectious agents without destroying tissues or acting as a poison if ingested (broadly active)
  • easily penetrate material to be disinfected without damaging or discoloring the material (not poisonous or otherwise harmful)
  • be easy to prepare and stable even when exposed to light, heat, or other environmental factors (penetrating; not damaging to non-living materials)
  • be inexpensive and easy to obtain and use (stable; easily prepared)
  • not have an unpleasant odor (not unpleasant to work with)

(quoted from the lecture outline of Stephen T. Abedon [Ph.D., Microbiology] of Ohio State University for Microbiology 509)

Veterinarian Dr. Shawn E. Seitz agrees in his 2012 white paper “The Ideal Disinfectant,” citing the same six plus a few more (highlighted) to consider:

  • Neutral pH (preferably 6.5 – 7.5)
  • Excellent cleaning ability
  • 1:64 concentrate (2 oz per gallon of water)
  • Cost effective
  • One-step functionality
  • Facility sparing – compatible with the composition of the surfaces you are cleaning
  • Hard water compatible
  • Ability to function in an organic load
  • Environmentally friendly – specifically friendly to the indoor environment and the air we breath
  • Safe – specifically safe in the face of accidental ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through skin
  • Ease of use
  • Pleasant fragrance
  • Spectrum of activity

The common thread – scientists, specifically health scientists, have developed a pretty clear goal that the evolution of cleaning and disinfecting products should keep in front of them. That’s why when Modern Cleaning began researching and testing products claiming to achieve cleaning and disinfection without chemicals, we developed this profile of the Ideal Chemical Free Cleaner:

  • Cleans as effectively as a well-tested and proven traditional cleaners using chemical detergents, surfactants, and/or disinfectants
  • Poses minimal risk to humans, indoor pets, and the indoor and outdoor environments
  • Has a small (or smaller) carbon footprint (from manufacturing through  disposal)
  • Rinses clean, leaving no residue
  • Quickly reverts to inert elements
  • Manufactured on site (at the cleaning event)

Despite the continual evolution of products and equipment that come closer and closer to meeting these ideals, to date “the ideal disinfectant doesn’t actually exist because the extremes of safety and efficacy are often at odds with one another in usage applications and during product development,” according to Dr. Seitz. What we know about particularly the manufacturing and shipping impacts on product development and what we know about the effects of the disposal process on our outdoor environment is largely speculative, as few have made such scientific inquiry a priority.

What we can test and measure is the influence of reduced chemicals on how clean the products and tools can leave the indoor environment and how much “less dirty” that same environment becomes from week to week when a chemical free cleaning procedure is used.

Originally published June 10, 2013 at CleaningBusinessToday.com.