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New England Business Expo Rocks!

October 27, 2006

I learned one very important piece of information at last Thursday’s business expo. One bit of data that is essential for anyone doing networking on a large scale like the expo. I thought about putting this information in an ebook and selling it ala Robert Allen (with the usual upsells, of course) but I’ve decided that this must be given to the people… free of charge. What is it?

You gotta have good comfortable shoes.

I spent six hours at the expo mostly on my feet and I came home limping. I symphathize with you folks who were there all day. I just hope you had great shoes.

So Many People, So Little Time

Other than brief moments of culinary ecstasy (in other words, stuffing my face with the great food on hand), I was talking to anyone who was willing to be networked. One of the first people I ran into was Peter Caputa of WhizSpark, the man of the hour. I blame him for my sore feet. If it wasn’t for Pete’s ability to pack a house, I could have left early. If you know of anyone who needs to put butts in seats, contact him or check out his website.

I will not attempt to cover the entire event in one post but there were a few key people that stood out for me. First of all, I am always captivated by magic and Jason Kallio of SayItWithMagic.com was doing his thing. He was at the combined StrategicRemarketing.com and YourPageToday.com booth with Stephen Paulin, auctioneer extraordinaire, and Jo Erickson, expert web development person. Did you know that Jason does educational programs at schools for bully control, fire safety and self-esteem? Jo was her usual upbeat self — she seemed in her element at the show. Even though she ate all the Kit Kat bars at their booth, I won’t hold a grudge.

Michael Langford of Course Pilot Financial (another person with a lot of energy) and I had a nice conversation. An easy guy to make friends with, I already received a follow up note in the mail from him (hand-written). Joining in the fun was Clarissa Rodriguez from Clear Road Associates, a guest of Roy Sequeira. Clarissa was looking for me as the only other Rodriguez on the list. She bills herself and her associates as “productivity architects.”

I’m Not Done Yet!

I’ve got a fistful of business cards with some memorable encounters behind them. I’ll talk about them in my next post. I better hurry, though. I’ve got another fistful of business cards from the Corridor Nine Speed Networking event today that I’d like to talk about. Never a dull moment!

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Don’t You Love a Good Restaurant?

October 10, 2006

I do! I love the feeling you get when you walk through the door. I love the smell as you walk in — the smile of the host or hostess, the variety of conversations as you walk by the tables, the feel of the menu after you’ve been seated. For me, this goes back a long time.

My First Time

I remember the first time I went to a restaurant without being accompanied by an adult. I must have been all of nine years old. I really wanted to experience a restaurant in that way so I grabbed my younger brother and dragged him to a cafe inside a bowling alley. Being nine, I ordered the best meal they had — pancakes! I was hooked. I guess I love being waited on more than anything else, although, if you’ve ever seen me, you’d say it was the food!

Restaurants Are Still a Passion

It wasn’t that much of a stretch, therefore, to focus on restaurants in my business. If you’ve read my “About Me” section, you would know that I have a graphic design and marketing business (go to my website and get the big picture). I toyed around with the idea of going after certain niches over the past several months and sat down one day to explore that. Restaurants kept coming up number one so I developed a marketing package for restaurants.

How Can I Help

The owners of restaurants are the busiest people you’d ever meet. In my career I’ve dealt with all types of managers and owners of businesses big and small and I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as someone who owns a restaurant. With that in mind, I felt there was something I could offer.

What Does a Restaurant Need?

  • Website
  • Menus
  • E-mail Promotion
  • Professional Photography
  • Copywriting/Press Releases
  • Registration with restaurant review websites
  • Gift Certificates/Gift Cards
  • Promotional Items (T-shirts, caps, coasters, mugs, etc.)
  • Postcards for Direct Mail
  • Newspaper/Magazine Ads
  • Menus – in-house or downloadable

There are more things we could add to the list but I believe the most important item is service. What good is a website if you can’t get your webmaster to make changes in a timely manner? What good are menus if they have misspellings or wrong prices? What good is a promotional t-shirt if it doesn’t have the right message or generate the right buzz?

Commitment to Your Business

It’s service and experience that counts. You’ve got to have someone who is by your side, who treats your business like it’s their business. You’ve got to have someone who’s been around the block and understands people and systems. So I put together a comprehensive package for restaurant owners. Whether you are starting a new restaurant or upgrading an existing one, I can help.

Any Stories to Share?

So restaurant owners, I would love to talk to you about the feeling a customer gets when they walk through your door. The smell, the sounds, the people. Do you have any restaurant success stories? Horror stories? Is your restaurant a source of pride or do you dread going to work? I want to hear those stories! I’ll add a few of my own in the near future. In the meantime, go to one of your favorite restaurants tonight (maybe it’s yours!) and savor the experience. Life is good!

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Watch Out for Internet Scams

September 14, 2006

Like many people, I get all kinds of solicitations, especially being a business. Occasionally I will get the invitation to attend an internet seminar of one kind or another.

I recently got an invitation from C. Rex Sanderson to attend a free internet marketing conference to “witness what others have done to re-claim their financial and personal lives.” It’s pretty easy to see through a thinly veiled sales pitch but I like to see what the competition is like so I called and picked one of the times available. They offer a free business organizer (ho-hum) and a free dinner. The free dinner and a look at the competition was enough to make me sign up. I like to see legitimate business offers – I may want to do one myself. Unfortunately, after a little investigation, this did not look good.

I lost hope of making this a worthwhile trip after googling Mr. Sanderson and finding all sorts of negative comments about his operation. For one thing, they don’t have a website. Big problem for someone touting an internet seminar. Also, Mr. Sanderson’s organization has a history of not delivering on their product, according to the articles and blogs I read. The product, by the way, is $5995.00. Also, it’s a hard sell presentation. I don’t mind someone waving a carrot to see a worthwhile presentation but this is a little too shady to invest 3 hours of my day for.

There are many businesses out there with legitimate and worthwhile methods for profiting from the internet. My business, Natural Rhythm, does this very well, if I can tout my own horn. Also, talk to Daren Coudriet at Sagebridge Solutions or Louise Rijk at Advanced Media Productions. A conversation with a knowledgable professional is well worth your time.

A good rule of thumb when approached by a business to a free seminar to find out how to make millions is to google that business or person. Chances are, someone has been through it and will report a good or bad experience. If you like, contact me and I’ll do the look-up for you.

Enjoy the last cold days of summer!

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Just Because It’s Summer…

August 10, 2006

I just realized every post doesn’t have to be two screens long.

It will be if I continue to write one sentence per line.

The common talk amongst us business owners is “summer is slow.” You can breeze through the summer and pick up speed after Labor Day. Well at least for some. I know a couple of painters that are really cranking out the work.

But summer doesn’t have to be slow. There are many things a business owner can do during the summer to keep things going. Even so-called seasonal businesses. I spoke to an indoor sports facility that does well during the cold months but is relatively quiet during the summer. It’s a wonderful place and quite large. They’ve had events there, even non-sport events like parties and bar mitzvahs. They could concentrate on booking the facility earlier in the year for those types of events, even concerts, motivational speakers and the like. I intend to mention WhizSpark, of course.

What about non-seasonal businesses? Sometimes, things are slow just because a business’ clientele tend to stay away for the summer. Time to think outside the box, I say. Be creative. Look at your business from other perspectives. Maybe it’s time to set up an Internet shop to get you through the “slow” time.

I hope everyone has kept cool so far. My daughter is finishing her second week at the Drumlin Farm day camp in Lincoln and she’s having a terrific time. I’ve got a high school reunion coming up in Los Angeles, which should be a lot of fun. Also, a few days in Maine after that should finish out the summer for us.

I’ve learned the basic difference between people here and people in California, where I’m from. It’s taken a good three years to fully adapt to being an east coaster. This is what I think: People in California have no seasons. It’s always between 60 degrees in the winter and 80 degrees in the summer. For the most part. Because of that, California people can do anything at any time of the year. California people get complacent because of this. They know that they can do anything at any time. For this reason, a lot of people never do anything!

Here on the east coast, people plan for the summer in January. This is what took me three years to grasp onto. We (I now consider myself one) east coasters have this flowing, undulating cycle of heavy activity in the summer and low activity in the winter. The key is the winter. The winter is like a forced meditation. We have more time to think, to ponder, to re-prioritize. Like a hibernating bear, our thoughts turn to dreams of spring and summer activities. How do we see ourselves in the upcoming months? How do we re-invent ourselves yet again?

California people never have this down time so they never re-invent, never ponder, never stop to think. For that reason, in general, I find people on the east coast much more interesting, vibrant, and down-to-earth. My first spring here was a revelation to me. I never felt so alive! I’d been cooped up all winter, not realizing I was “meditating,” and when spring arrived, I couldn’t wait to get out, to get things done. I understand it now. This is the way life should be lived!

So that’s my take on the differences between the coasts. Your thoughts? Are you a transplanted west coaster? Let me know. Write to me. After all, just because it’s summer…

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Art, Wine, Networking… and Armor

June 29, 2006

I was one of many that attended the well-attended Art, Wine, and Networking event on June 20 at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester. Someone from the museum came up to me and asked me if I had ever been there before and I replied, “I’ve never even heard of it before. I guess that means ‘mission accomplished’ for you!”

It was a lot of fun (OK, I like networking events!) and I ran into several people mentioned in my last blog. Of course, Peter Caputa was there, the mastermind behind the evening. He and his company, WhizSpark, are destined for great things. But the very first guy I ran into, standing outside the front door next to a Jaguar (or was it a Ja-gew-wah), was Rick Roberge of Dave Kurlan & Associates. This guy is simply everywhere! More on him and Dave Kurlan later.

Once inside, I was (of course) drawn to the food, which was top drawer. Amanda Graves of Amanda Cooks, Inc. was the main caterer and boy can she cook! And if that wasn’t enough, newcomers Cheryl Maloney and Kim Anger of Blue Hydrangea Bake Shop were handing out the sweets (I tried to keep my networking close to their table). They’ve just started their business recently so the best of luck to them.

My business consultant, Roy Sequeira of Sequeira Consulting, was there working the crowd. He’s usually the tallest guy there so he’s easy to spot. If you are in need of help in your business, Roy’s your man. He’s one of the smartest people I know. He introduced me to Lindsy Parker of Lindsy Parker Media. You wouldn’t normally hear the word “shy” and her name mentioned in the same sentence. We hit it off quite well and have plans to get together to see where our companies can help each other.

Kenneth Perry of Intergration, Inc. and I had a little “geek” chat. His company specializes in software development and EDI consulting and is based in Connecticut. While in geek mode, I decided to say hi to Larry Altobelli of Allatar Hardware and Software Solutions. After a sushi break, I had a conversation with Leo Manning of Kenai Computer Forensics, the “Gil Grissom” of PCs. Talk about geekspeak!

Before turning into a real digit-head, I decided to venture over to some of the sponsors’ tables. I had a very short chat with Nancy Fredrickson of Edward Jones. (I had a longer talk with her a few days later when I picked up the gift basket I won!) Did you know that she started business on September 10, 2001? (the day before… well, you know). Ace photographer Jay Groccia of Onsite Studios and I were asking a very competent Neil Anastas of New Look Auto Detail a lot of questions. If you saw the Jag in front, that was his work. By the way, I won the $25 discount from them although I probably wasn’t the only one.

The I-Gotta-Sing Guy, John Abbondanza of Vision Care Specialists, sang a selection from La Boheme exclusively for Chris Tzellas of Corridor Nine and then a short ditty to all to announce one of the raffle prizes. John is a fascinating guy. Get him talking about behavorial optometry, his specialty. You won’t be sorry.

I had a nice conversation with Kristen who works for a real estate attorney. A sharp gal but didn’t get her particulars because she didn’t have a business card to give me, which is how I remember all this stuff. Kristen, if you’re reading this, send me that email you promised!

Did you see the photographic artwork at the end of the hall? It was by Robert Balogh and his photographs were very compelling. Check out his work and upcoming shows at his website. His wife, Rita Coco of Rita Coco Consulting, was by his side and networking her own gig, which is performance, training and marketing consulting.

Someone I didn’t meet but had a nice impact: The basket I won was put together by Sharon Kuchenbecker of Express Yourself. It was beautiful, the food was delicious, and the wine paraphernalia will be very useful. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll go and have some cheese and crackers right now.

Finally, I saw some of the very same people the following morning at the Dave Kurlan sales seminar. Dave has sales down to a science! His 2-hour seminar was just the very tip of the iceberg and it made me hunger for more. If you’ve never talked to Rick Roberge about the Dave Kurlan sales program, do it. I’ve ordered Dave’s book and I’m meeting with a Kurlan associate next month to talk more about the program.

And now, off subject…

Does anyone know a good bass player? Call me! More on that in the coming weeks.

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Great Fun at Worcester Crown Plaza Business After Hours

June 16, 2006

I had a terrific time meeting new people, newly-made friends, and finding out about other people’s dreams for their businesses. It was held at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Worcester where everything is top drawer. They even managed to bring incredible weather. I don’t really know how they did that…

I ran into Jimmie Ames from Bay State Savings Bank, newly crowned Ambassador of the Year for Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce (in my PDA, they are simply known as C9). Jim’s a great guy and responsible for signing me up for the Worcester Chamber. I met Julieane Frost of Frost Manufacturing, a company that’s been around for 115 years! We had a discussion about the many items she offers, so many that you will have to go to her website to see them all. We had a nice discussion about search engine strategies.

On the geek side (and there were many of us there!), self-proclaimed geek Trave Harmon of Triton Technologies gave a short lecture on the wonders of Bluetooth technology. After seeing his shirt and tie, I wished I had brought sunglasses. Nate Harris from New Perspective Web Solutions was introduced by my new friend Peter Caputa as someone who is very sharp. Chris Tankis from PC-Plus Technology Solutions and I had a nice little talk but he couldn’t do anything for me regarding the Red Sox/Yankees tickets drawing that night.;) Another new friend, Jo Erickson from Your Page Today, brought her enthusiasm to the event. She and I have already talked about future collaborations. With Jo there, not far away was Stephen Paulin from Strategic REmarketing. Stephen gave Steve Strella from The Alternative Board and me a demonstration of various auctioneering methods. Stephen does a lot of online auctions with incredible state-of-the-art software developed by his business partner. Steve Strella does great work with businesses who are starting up or in transition. He says his main purpose is to make the business owner’s vision synch up with what they do.

Other people I met are Larry Altobelli from Allatar Hardware and Software Solutions, Charlie Cary from Biomass Combustion Systems, and Tim Demski from Choice One Communications. It was fun talking with everybody and, as usual, stayed after the food and bar were taken away. The networking after the event is always fun, especially when someone like Rick Roberge is involved. If you’ve never met Rick or Peter Caputa, then come to the Art, Wine and Networking event on Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m. at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester. Peter tells me there are 200 people signed up to attend. KJ Baaron’s will be serving the wine and my friend, Amanda Graves from Amanda Cooks will be catering. Don’t miss it. I’ll see you there!

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