Posted in Content Marketing, Published Writing, Small Business Tips

5 Changes that Enhanced Our Convention and Trade Show Experience

ISSA Convention and Trade Show BoothIt’s only one week – that annual convention and trade show – so how you spend your time is critical for both your immediate enjoyment and your long-term success through the next year.

As I reflect on our editorial focus for November – Making Changes – I can’t help but stop and flip through my fresh memory album from’s third year as an exhibitor at ISSA/Interclean North America and sponsor for the ARCSI Annual Convention and about the recent upgrades to improve the mobile accessibility of the knowledge we’ve produced and curated over he past almost three years:

  • Broadcasting select events LIVE with Periscope – follow us @CleanBizToday and watch broadcast recordings
  • Opening up our booth to the benefit of our advertisers and providing them with an outreach platform and private meeting space
  • Raffling off a ProTeam Sierra Backpack vacuum to winner Craig Baker of Mess Maid Right NW in Portland, OR (he told me he’s hoping to convince his wife and partner to switch)
  • Giving away the Cleaning Business Builders Core Values Cards, used to make smarter hiring decisions as well as give staff the tools to learn to see and appreciate each other more deliberately
  • Talking about current events in business and labor regulations with experts and planning/scheduling articles for upcoming release

As CBOs continue to anticipate increased costs of business from minimum wage increases and healthcare-related costs while at the same time facing labor shortages, I invite you to share your questions and your experiences with us at for open discussion.

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CeCe Mikell is the Editor-in-Chief for, coming to the cleaning industry from a 15-year career as a college professor of communication and business. She also works with several cleaning business owners on business development projects.

Originally published on November 2, 2015 at
Posted in Content Marketing, Ghost Writer, Housekeeping

8 Things You Can’t Miss at the Cleaning Convention

600600p3069EDNmain1811derek-christian-issa-show-floor-600-x-250-REVSchedules are already filling up; make sure you get time with the experts you need.

Since the founding of ARCSI and, in particular, the year I served as its President, I’ve never missed a convention, and I’m pretty sure neither Liz Trotter nor Derek Christian have either; in fact, both have served on the board and been slightly outrageous advocates for the annual convention – Liz betting Derek that she could get more convention registrations than he could. Yes, Liz won, and Derek had to dye his hair blue that year.

And each year, there’s more to do, new topics and vendors and activities vying for your attention. And let’s not discount the attraction that is Las Vegas itself!

So when you’re looking for me, for Liz or for Derek, here are the 7 places you can definitely find us at Convention:

Private Consultations with Me, Liz or Derek

Naturally, booking a 30-minute private consultation with one of us is the easiest way to ensure that you’re on our schedule with some dedicated time. It’s easy to check online and see when we’re still available to meet new folks like you! Be sure to check with the other consultants to see what opportunities they are offering as well. Convention is a great time to try everyone out!

Workforce Innovation Summit

After the success of the Disruptive Innovation Summit in 2014, I’m excited to see the format return and to focus on another rapidly evolving aspect of our businesses: our staff. In addition to having information from available during the summit, CBT is proud to be introducing Dr. Jeff Waddoups from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to talk about impending minimum wage increases and how the demand for and actuality of them is likely to change the ways we recruit and retain employees.

Time Management

Make sure you favorite Liz’s Time Management workshop Wednesday at 11:00 am and add it to your agenda in the ISSA Mobile App. This ARCSI session is a true workshop; you’ll be out of your seat and even talking in front of the group before you know it! You might even be able to convince Liz to stick around for some after-workshop workshopping through lunch.

CBT Show Floor Tour

Derek is putting his years of working trade shows to work in this Show Floor Tour, specifically designed to introduce first-timers not only to booths of particular interest to residential cleaners but also how to get free samples out of vendors! The Tour starts on Wednesday at 1:00 pm, after the ARCSI morning education sessions.

Creating a Culture of Promotion

Continuing discussions from the Workforce Innovation Summit, Liz will be presenting on the ISSA Show Floor Thursday at 12:00 pm on how and why to build out your company structure to make promotion the mechanism for empowering professional growth…which leads to business growth. Liz will be available in the Booth 3296 following the class for further discussion.


Happy Hour at the Booth 3296

Possibly the most underrated “event” of the entire convention is the ISSA Happy Hour on the show floor. In addition to enjoying a beverage on ISSA, many exhibitors have special events at their booths only during that one hour. At the Booth 3296, you can get a FREE deck of Core Values Cards, courtesy of Cleaning Business Builders (first 35 people only) and even win a ProTeam Sierra Backpack vacuum. Be sure to visit the booth before Happy Hour to drop your card in the raffle.

CBB Breakfast and Business Forecasting Class

Start your last day of convention off with FREE breakfast and a Business Forecasting class in the CBB Suite at Harrah’s. The class will show you how key metrics tracking can predict what your business will look like in 1, 2, 5, even 10 years from now. If you’ve wanted to know when you’ll hit the $1M revenue mark, this is the class to hit! Space is limited; watch for RSVP information in your ARCSI convention packet.

Improving Customer Retention and Employee Retention in Tandem

Cap off convention with this great class with Derek on the ISSA Show Floor. Admit it: the two things that challenge you the most are people – your staff and your clients. Derek’s going to show you how things you do to make your staff happier and more motivated lead to your customers being happier and sticking with your service longer.

And don’t worry; he’ll be done before you head out to catch Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank and to see if Teresa Ward wins his Solution Guru contest.

Tom Stewart and his wife, Janice Stewart, are co-owners of Castle-Keepers, the 1st company to achieve CIMS certification. Tom is a nationally-recognized leader & innovator in the house cleaning industry. He is co-founder and Publisher of Cleaning Business Today.

Originally published October 5, 2015 at

Posted in Content Marketing, Housekeeping

When-Where-How to Find New Cleaning Products

600600p3069EDNmain1804ISSA-show-floor-600-x-250If your labor costs so much more than your products and supplies, why does it matter what you use?

It’s easy to get pulled into the conversations about the rise of on-demand business models, online marketplaces and how much they cost CBOs in revenue shares, and the dramatic increase in worker and class action lawsuits claiming employee misclassification damages. The summer has been active in all of those areas, and we at have been scrambling to keep up with the announcements and cases.

In October 2015, though, we want to return to some basics: what products and supplies are working, not working, and are new for you to investigate?

And the ISSA/Interclean Trade Show is a prime opportunity for CBOs across the country to collect samples and take a hard look at what they’re using and what they might be using to clean

  • more quickly
  • more effectively
  • with less product
  • with less water

All toward the end goal of high efficiency. Why efficiency? Because time is what costs you the most money, not the actual products.

And this year for the first time at ISSA, the trade show includes an Outdoor Exhibit Space to allow for product demonstrations. See them in action and even try them out yourself before making a decision!

And be sure to favorite Booth 3296 in the ISSA Mobile App and use the Map feature for walking guidance to find us easily!

CeCe Mikell is the Editor-in-Chief for, coming to the cleaning industry from a 15-year career as a college professor of communication and business. She also works with several cleaning business owners on business development projects.

Originally published October 1, 2015 at

Posted in Content Marketing, Housekeeping, Small Business Tips

1 App to Organize Your Convention Experience

mobile app for conventionDownload the free ISSA/Interclean 2015 mobile app, load up your targets, take notes, and let the app guide you around the trade show floor!

You could “wing it.” Convention, that is. Especially if this is your first time attending, you may not have realized that the word “convention” is much larger than you think.

Your registration for the ARCSI Convention includes entry into the ISSA Trade Show and many of the ISSA activities, but those two organizations are working in parallel. They have two different schedules for you to keep track of. They have different hotels.

But the one thing they share is the ISSA/Interclean 2015 mobile app:

  • BOTH convention education schedules
  • ALL trade show vendors
  • ALL shared activities, like the keynote speakers and the Scavenger Hunt

So here’s what you should be doing in the last four weeks before arriving in Las Vegas for the conventions:

  • Download the ISSA Mobile App to your phone and tablet
  • Login with your 6-digit badge number – ARCSI or BSCAI can provide you with your ISSA badge number (whichever association you’re registered through)
    • Select the first photo section that says 700+ Exhibitors; be sure to favorite
    • ARCSI – Booth 3293
    • Cleaning Business Today – Booth 3296
    • Other booths that reflect the results of your Business Needs Assessment
  • Select the photo that says 40+ Seminars; be sure to favorite these ISSA sessions by specialists in residential cleaning or open to all at the trade show:
    • State of the Residential Cleaning Industry
    • Creating a Culture of Promotion
    • Show Floor Happy Hour
    • Improving Customer Retention and Employee Retention in Tandem
  • Scroll down and select the icon for Co-located Events and choose ARCSI; favorite the sessions you’re choosing to attend – especially those times when there are two happening at the same time. If you like to look at a printed schedule first, print off the schedule from the ARCSI convention website.
  • Keep track of your schedule using the Agenda icon (looks like a calendar) at the bottom of the home screen; use to identify what free time you have open for play or other appointments.
  • Review your selections by using the My Show icon
  • Add Notes to each of your selected booths, events, and products to remind yourself why you have chosen them – click on the small pencil icon in the upper right of any favorited booth, event, or product
  • Use the Notes feature to record your thoughts and decisions – for use in Friday’s session on what to do with all of the info you collected at convention
  • Be sure to flag all of the Scavenger Hunt participant booths to be eligible to win one of 3 iPad Minis! Use the app to play in the Scavenger Hunt.
  • Practice navigating the show floor using the Maps feature in the app. Plan one move at a time with Create a New Route or map out all of your favorites to optimize your time and energy with Open SmartRoute.

We’ll look forward to seeing you at the Booth 3296, right across the aisle from the ARCSI booth!

Originally published on September 21, 2015 at

Posted in Content Marketing, Ghost Writer

3 More Things to Check Off of Your Convention Prep Checklist

600600p3069EDNmain1681convention-crowd-rev-600-x-250Continue your convention prep by checking these three things off your list this month.

The ARCSI and ISSA show may still seem a long way off, but with all of us being busy in our businesses and personal life, it is going to seem like it is here faster than you would imagine.

There are a lot of ways to make sure you get the most out of your convention experience.   The education events from both ISSA and ARCSI are a great way to build your knowledge.   The show floor is a great place to find new products, equipment, and techniques. But one method that is often over looked is learning from the other attendees at the show outside of the formal events.

Set Up Appointments with Industry Experts

The great thing about shows like this all the “big names” attend. Do not limit yourself just to the formal classroom time. This is a great time to ask that person you have followed online for years to a quick lunch to get some more insight in person.

If there is a vendor you have had a hard time reaching to give them feedback about their products, arrange a meeting before the show starts. You can find vendors and where they’ll be located using the ISSA Show Floor Map (and soon the ISSA/Interclean Mobile App). Be sure to tag Booth #3296!

Finally, a lot of the leading industry consultants are going to be at the show as well. After all, the learning never ends, even when you are an expert. The ARCSI show is a great time to arrange some one-on-one meetings with these consultants to get some advice and see if maybe they are a good match to work with you in the future.

Check your perception of your biggest business needs with this complimentary Business Needs Assessment.

Order More Business Cards!

Be sure to order some extra business cards now because you are going to need them. Bring lots of business cards to the convention. You can give them to vendors you meet on the show floor to ask them to contact you later with samples or more information.

As you meet with others who give you great ideas, you may want them to send you some more information later. And as you accept another convention-goers card, write a note on the back to remind yourself what you talked about and why you would want to connect with that person later. Also, no matter how long you have been at the business, there are going to be those that want to learn from you and want your contact information.

Most attendees have given out more than 100 cards just at this one convention.

Make Your Hotel Reservation ASAP!

All of these great opportunities to learn are there for you to take, but you need to be where the people are – where the action is. Be sure to reserve your hotel room at the official convention hotel ASAP. Not only will this ensure you get the lowest rate possible, it also will make sure you get to stay at the hotel where all of the before and after networking is going to be taking place.  As large as these hotels are, this is a major convention and they do book up, so don’t wait until it is too late.

As a bonus, if you want share the cost of a room, many ARCSI members share a room. If you want to find a roommate, you can post on the ARCSI roommate board on the website.

Be sure you catch last month’s Convention Prep To-Do List here.

Derek Christian is founder and owner of My Maid Service, Cincinnati’s largest, independent professional cleaning company. Prior to that, he spent twelve years at P&G working on household cleaning products. Derek is Co-publisher and Director of Business Development & Sales for Cleaning Business Today.

Originally published August 14, 2015 at

Posted in Content Marketing, Ghost Writer, Housekeeping

4 Money-Saving Tips for the Cleaning Conventions

600600p3069EDNmain1681convention-crowd-rev-600-x-250Do these four things this month to make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck at the annual cleaning conventions and trade show.

The idea of leaving your company for a week – even for business – can seem very intimidating, so over the next few months, we are going to share with you what we do in the months before convention to make sure we are frugal while still enjoying the benefits of business education and networking – and especially having fun with the friends we’ve made through the years.


1. Set Your Budget

It sounds so simple to us business owners to say “set a budget,” but especially for first-timers, we haven’t done a great job of setting expectations. We use a pretty simple pro forma from year to year that has made this easy – and we come up with about $2200 per person attending:


Expense Fee
Registration for ARCSI Basic Member $389
Average Airfare $600
Average Hotel Bill for a Week $600
Conservative Per Diem ($50/day) $350
Fun and Entertainment $250
Total $2,189


With very few exceptions, when we plan ahead and catch the early bird registration rates and get into the group rate at the hotel, we’re able to keep our travel and lodging in tight check. But the key is to act early.


Also be sure to apply for the Petra Huppert HEART Scholarship, established in 2013 to assist small cleaning companies in attending convention.


And consider add-ons such as the IICRC House Cleaning Technician Certification 2-day course that precedes convention each year. Scholarships are also available for this class.


2. Register by July 15 for the Most Registration Savings

Each year, ARCSI makes a monthly payment plan available to help members better cash flow their convention expenses. But to take advantage of the payment plan, you’ll want to register by July 15th, which is coming up very soon. Oh, and when you register by July 15th, you’ll get $50 off your registration. That’s a whole day’s per diem right there. What do you know – you’re already under budget!


3. Take a Business Needs Assessment

Oh, this one is actually tougher than it seems. Sure, you can sit down and make a list of all of the things you think aren’t working in your business, but you also need to figure out “what you don’t know that you don’t know” to add to that list.


We’ve been using this simple but illuminating Business Needs Assessment to help new and veteran business owners identify where to focus their improvement efforts for maximum return in their companies. And you can use it too to find out on what topics you should be focusing your convention experience.


And with July signaling the mid-year reality check on your annual plan and goals, our Business Needs Assessment is a great tool even if you’re not coming to convention.


4. Apply for or Nominate Someone for an Award

Your final convention checklist item for July is to look for the good in your company and submit one of your staff for an award. Each year, ARCSI recognizes a leadership staff member and a technician – and pays for their trip to convention. It’s a great way for you to really show your appreciation for someone in your company who has made a huge difference in your ability to grow and give him/her the opportunity of a lifetime at convention.


And those aren’t all of the awards. Show pride in your logo, uniforms, vehicles, and website by applying for an Image Award. Members present at convention vote for the best in each category!


Oh, you want to know if we’ll be there?

Yep – me, Tom, Derek, CeCe and Austin – we’ll all be in Las Vegas – not only for the ARCSI Convention but also for the BSCAI, CETA, IEHA, IICRCA, and IWCA Conventions and the BIG ISSA Trade Show. We’re already scheduled to teach several education sessions all over Las Vegas during the week!

Liz Trotter is founder of American Maid Cleaning as well as an entrepreneur and leadership trainer based in Olympia, Washington.  She is also a former ARCSI board member, a partner in Cleaning Business Builders, creator of the HiPEP employee development system and a charter member of Cleaning For A Reason.

Originally published July 9, 2015 at

Posted in Business Articles, Content Marketing, Housekeeping

2013 Cleaning Convention Recap: Networking, Synergy, and Landmarks

600600p3069EDNmain705ribbon-cutting-615-x-350What you gain attending the annual cleaning convention is priceless. Taken together with the four associations who gathered in Las Vegas in November, the industry trends, association initiatives and major awards were uniquely uniting for the cleaning industry.

If ever there was proof that the cleaning industry is strong, large, and growing, the evidence could be found at the 2013 trade show and conventions in Las Vegas. Attendance records were broken, vendor participation was at an all-time high, and annual awards honored unsung heroes.

Centered around ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2013 were its three co-located conventions by IEHA – the International Executive Housekeepers Association, ARCSI – the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International, and BSCAI – the Building Service Contractors Association International. With each of these associations reporting record attendance, it’s no wonder the main trade show was packed for two-and-a-half days.

Trends in the Cleaning Industry
Within our ever-evolving industry, change is inevitable, but it’s the changes that catch on with the customers who demand quality and specialty service as well as the businesses who work together up and down the supply chain who really define the trends and challenges facing the cleaning industry at large.

The “green” movement has had its day and continues to enjoy a specialty following, but the lasting trend from that effort is one of sustainability: the balance between achieving our clean goals, rendering minimal negative impact on the natural environment, and operating a successful and profitable business.

Toward that end, many manufacturers launched or featured low-impact salt-based cleaner/sanitizers, including some designed for use by residential cleaning companies. The number of steam-based cleaning and disinfecting options is growing, and the availability of cleaning enzymes is expanding.

Aging Building Maintenance
More than once, the challenges of servicing the “aging building market” was a topic of presentation and discussion. For many years, cleaning was cleaning, with no standard body of knowledge or skills established. With construction remaining slow, rents rising, and businesses moving to older buildings, BSCs find themselves faced with a well-worn building where no amount of removing soil can make things shine the way they used to.

BSCs are faced with the conundrum of feeding into the “pretty and shiny = clean” consumer mentality or potentially losing out on contracts when maintenance or even renovation is the best choice for achieving the consumers’ end-goal appearance. For this reason, the multiple-solution bid is becoming more common, providing the opportunity to place the best option (whatever that may be) in a value perspective.

Mobile Business Solutions 
The number of online and mobile business solutions grows every year, so it was only a matter of time before technology-based solutions made their way into the cleaning industry. Mobile business solutions are major investments that empower cost-cutting savings in operations and support services. They make a huge, positive difference in margins. Online quoting tools and automated sales systems help land new clients. Customer satisfaction and survey tools help retain great clients. These mobile solutions also enhance efficiency in scheduling, creating work orders and dispatching field staff.

When you’re evaluating your existing solutions or looking for a new solution, be sure to check for mobile and cloud interfaces with coordinating products, including ISSA Innovation Award winner CleanTelligent Software for their mobile surveys and work orders. And be sure to check out our June article, which compares options for scheduling and field services software.

Trends Among Associations
Since 1998, ISSA has shared the annual ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show with at least one, and now three, co-located associations. Together they represent “customers” of the various manufacturer and distributor groups who comprise ISSA’s primary membership. And in those 15 years, IEHA, BSCAI and ARCSI have worked together with ISSA to empower growth within the industry at large and within their own constituencies.

IEHA executive director Beth Risinger commented that about 20 years ago, when she first reached out to ISSA, the leadership of other associations was skeptical of initiating a relationship between ISSA and a group considered its customers. But today, she and the leadership of ARCSI and BSCAI have forged strong friendships and an enormous business network. This strengthens the member companies of each group.

BSCAI opened its convention with a unique panel including leadership from BOMA – Building Owners and Managers Association, IREM – Institute of Real Estate Management, and IFMA – International Facility Management Association, along with the BSCAI President. Though the panel was focused on addressing important questions for building service contractors (BSCs), the conversation and its residual value spans the industry.

Our common cause is the delivery of exceptional products and services to the occupants of the spaces we build, manage, clean, and maintain. When we enter into business arrangements with this knowledge, knowing the mission and recognizing the value of our respective associations, we better benefit each other and ourselves. Specifically, we best benefit our end users by:

  • Cooperating and collaborating with members of related industry associations
  • Sharing mutually beneficial resources – bodies of knowledge, educational programs, and certifications
  • Engaging in informed supply chain relationships, which provides the best possible experience for end users

IEHA – ISSA Lifetime Achievement Award
Beth Risinger

beth-risinger-150-x-200This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award marks the 15th anniversary of the landmark and highly-successful partnership between ISSA and IEHA. And for the first time, IEHA participated in the selection process and presentation of the award. As the executive director of IEHA, Beth Risinger has grown that organization to the largest of the three association partners to ISSA. Together with ISSA, she has championed education, certification programs and the development of many leadership tools. She has authored Kip the Koala, the first coloring book for children about cleaning.

BSCAI Industry Service Award and ISSA Industry Distinguished Service Awards
Varsity Facility Services

Don-Aslett-and-Arlo-LukeTwo of the industry’s top service awards were granted this year to Founder Don Aslett and Board of Directors Chairman Arlo Luke, both of Varsity Facility Services. These two college friends started Varsity Facility Services over 55 years ago and have grown it into a powerhouse.

The company has interests in every area of the cleaning industry and has achieved several milestones. It was the first company to become CIMS Certified with Honors. In addition, Don Aslett is the founder and curator of the Museum of Clean, an historical collection of cleaning instruments and advertisements which serve as a testament to the role of cleaning in the evolution of society. In his award comments, Don asserted that, though “we’re still invisible” to many, he can always tell a professional cleaner by the sagging pants, where their keys have pulled them out of shape.

BSCAI Employee of the Year Award
Patrick Morgan

It’s not often that the heroes of the cleaning industry are known outside of their association, let alone outside of the company for which they work. But thanks to the power of our connected world, the tale of Patrick Morgan of Sunshine Cleaning Systems went viral in early 2013. So on November 20th, when Larry Calufetti, President of Sunshine Cleaning Systems, introduced Patrick for the BSCAI Employee of the Year Award, sponsored by Hillyard, Patrick was known, recognized, and appreciated for the example he sets for members of the industry, and also for consumers.

ARCSI President’s Award
Rachel Farquer, My Maid Service

rachael-150-x-200In its closing President’s Reception, ARCSI honored Rachel Farquer of My Maid Service, who in 2014 will become the majority owner and general manager of the company’s newest office in Dayton, OH. Having started off as an average cleaning technician, Rachel’s true talent in leadership and management was revealed when she transitioned to office work in the later months of a pregnancy. Today, at just 24 years old, Rachel is the first President’s Award recipient to have risen through the ranks of her employer’s company to become a majority owner.  Read Derek Christian’s nomination letter.

Through awards and the occasional viral video, members and companies in our industry continually advance the notion that “clean is a condition,” in the words of Don Aslett. With far more than just the four industry associations which convene with ISSA/INTERCLEAN each year, it is essential to remember that all are aiming toward the same ultimate goal: a strong and growing cleaning industry perceived as valuable by our society.

Originally published on December 2, 2013 at
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