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 theCleaningBusinessToday.com 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 CleaningConvention.org 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 CleaningBusinessToday.com.

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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 Business Articles, Small Business Tips

Clean Up Your Cleaning Business on LinkedIn

600600p3069EDNmainLinkedInNetworking with the best on YOUR schedule

Have you seen LinkedIn’s new look? It’s subtle, but cleaner, especially at the top. LinkedIn is the premiere business network online, similar to Facebook, but focused on helping professionals around the country and the globe to share knowledge, experience, and expertise.

 

The new layout isn’t dramatically different. LinkedIn has tidied up the top operational menu of the basic account, leaving the News Feed and the sidebars largely untouched.

 

 

Update your profile today. Join some cleaning industry groups. Search the site or just one group for answers to questions. LinkedIn is a free network to help you get started in the cleaning industry and to grow your business beyond your dreams!

Originally published June 6, 2013 at CleaningBusinessToday.com.