8 Tips for More Efficient Networking

The word networking makes people cringe, but it is vital to business success. That's why we've put together some tips to hep make networking easier.

Set Goals, then do your research. What are your objectives for networking? Research different events and groups and focus your time on those with the attendees or members that are the best fit.

Be Open, Networking doesn't just take place at business events and through online sites like linked In or Plaxo – it should occur every day. The person you meet at the airport or the long-lost friend you run into at the grocery store may not need your services, but they may know someone who does.

Help Others, Effective networking involves building mutually beneficial relationships. Instead of handing out as many business cards as you can, focus on how you can assist the people you meet.

Know how others can help you, Be prepared to answer questions about the problems you need solved and your ideal customer.

Stand Out, Use eye-catching business cards with photos of your products or a list of your services or on the back. Or give a small reusable item instead of a business card, such as a pocket calculator, sticky note dispenser or magnet.

Volunteer, Volunteering for an organization or at an event is a low pressure, high visibility way to meet people.

Give a speech or lead a seminar, Most groups will happily accept your offer, and it is an excellent way to position yourself as an expert in your field.

Follow up quickly, Send your new contacts something useful that will remind them of you for years to come. This could be an e-book on a custom USB drive, a report or relevant article in an attractive binder, or a journal book, highlighter or pen.

We have a variety of products to support your networking efforts. Call for some great ideas today.

A Quick Reminder about CEShoppes Security Measures

Now that we are getting busier as businesses loosen up their spending I would like to take a minute to remind you that you should be careful with how you deliver your credit card to us, or anyone else you may be doing business with in the future.

 

CEShoppes has an encrypted fax number just for our customers. Your emails with sensitive credit card numbers can only be opened with a password by one of our authorized staff members. If you put your credit card information in an email (either scanning in our forms and then emailing them to us as an attachment, or actually typing it in your email), you are putting your number at risk.  There are many times an email from  a customer does not reach us for some reason or other (incorrectly typing in our email address, falls in to our Spam box, etc.). If you accidentally send your email to the wrong address or it gets redirected by unscrupulous people, you or your boss (if it is their card) will have to go through the hassle of cancelling the card and waiting for a new one – and this could also lead to the possibility of identity theft.

 

REMINDER: PLEASE fax your payment information to us through our encrypted fax. If you feel you would rather call and give us the number and then just send your signature on our order forms, we can do that too. We want your experience with CEShoppes to be a great one!!

Tips on How to Plan a Family Reunion

We recently added a new article to our News/Info page. Here is a small excerpt from “Tips on how to put together a family reunion:”  

What if you were asked to organize a family reunion? Where would you start? When should you start?

1.     Ask for other family members to help with planning activities and choosing the time and place. Get the word out – let others know you're planning a family reunion event. Give family members plenty of notice. If your family is spread out over the U.S or abroad, planning one to two years in advance will allow attendees to plan vacation time or make adjustments in scheduling.

2.     Assign each member of your newly formed reunion committee a specific task and hold them responsible. Plan on purchasing commemorative items imprinted with the family name and date of the event.

These two tips are the most important part of planning your event. You need to get the commitment of other family members to help make your event special, and to tell other family members about the event. You can still send out invitations, but I know from experience that some family members might need to be dragged to a family reunion, especially if they only get one vacation per year and they are not excited about the venue.  So make sure to recruit family members that have clout with other family members.

Each of the additional six tips gives a more elaborate explanation, suggested activities and keepsakes to remind family members of what a great time they had at the event. If you would like to read the full article you can read it at this link http://www.ceshoppes.com/Newsletters/FamilyReunionPlanning.asp  After reading the article you may have other suggestions you would like to add to help our readers and we would love to hear them!

 

Promotional Towels- FAQ

Over the weekend my boys went swimming in our backyard pool. I never really looked at all of the towels we have accumulated over the years until now. Last week we began training our staff about the differences in beach towels because so many of our customers are purchasing promotional towels for their events and they were asking a lot of questions.

Beach towels are great for swim teams, school fundraisers, company picnics, beach outings and any other summer event you can think of. We get a lot of questions from those that are tasked to purchase the beach towels for their event. Many have no idea why some towels cost more than others and some can’t figure out why it cost so much to put more than 1 or 2 colors on a towel. 

To solve this, we have put together a sort of cheat sheet. This page explains the towel types, terry loop vs velour, screen printed vs. fiber reactive towels in a clean cut, user friendly form that everyone can understand. If you are in charge or know of someone in your company that will be tasked to order your summer promotional items and they want to know more about beach towels visit our FAQ on towel decoration or call one of our trained staff.

Reward Your Customers

We just spent a week at the Wyndham Ocean Walk in Daytona Beach. It was supposed to be spring break, but it was nothing like it was in the 80’s when I lived there for a few brief moments of my life. The beach was not crowded, there were no concerts at the band shell, just a few hundred (literally) college age kids drinking daily at the pool bar.


Maybe they (Daytona Beach) should give incentives for filling up hotel rooms or for the college with the most attendees. I was prepared for the worst: long lines on the elevator, no place to sit on the beach, the pool being filled with hundreds of people, and then nothing of the sort happened.


There are many ways incentives can be handled. Our CEShoppes Select-A-Gift program has 3 or more ways to reward customers and employees alike. There is an on-line program with no cost to the customer, where the recipient logs in and picks their gift and we ship them out. This one comes with point certificates, which are purchased for a nominal charge. This program would be great for hotel staff to hand out certificates to those staff members who get great ratings by the hotel guests. They can save up their certificates and redeem them for name brand gifts worth up to $4,000! The gift booklet program also would work well for hotels. The more the hotel guest or college vacation promotion department spends, the bigger the gift book.


There are just numerous ways to get guests to the city. I felt bad for the merchants up and down the block. The nightly news said it was supposed to be “Black College Week”. But they interviewed a few college kids who should have been there for this event, and they had never heard of Black College Week. 

 

Over all our vacation went well. No incidents and the kids had plenty of room to build their sand castle.
We did contribute to the local economy while we were there, my son purchased a skim board, and we took in the “Race to Witch Mountain” movie, and ate at some of the local restaurants with gift card rewards we received from using our American Express card. You see there are a lot of ways to reward people to use your services and remember who you are at the same time.

Celebrate Life’s Moments

Sometimes we forget in these “tighten the purse strings” times that life is still going on around us. There are birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate, safe work practices to reward and employees retiring.  Just as in death, life around us still continues and it is more important than ever before to recognize the individuals in our lives, employees, clients, family and friends who help us become who we are, increase our business and keep our heads above water.

Today, I got a “twitter” from a long time business coach. He just returned from a NYC tradeshow speaking engagement for our industry. Here is his “Tweet”: - Just got back from New York City & saw no signs of a recession. Restaurants were packed. People spending money and having fun. Where’s CNN?

The point is that too many of us are caught up in the bad press. We need to celebrate the moments that matter most to us. – Over the next couple of posts, I am going to talk about the different ways you can celebrate the moments with those that mean the most to you- whether it be your employees, your clients or your family.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to say “Happy Birthday!” – In our office we celebrate birthdays with lunch brought in from a local restaurant or pizza. I am not talking about a catered lunch, I am talking about passing around a menu and asking what each person would like and having our receptionist go out and pick it up. We take the next 45 minutes to an hour celebrating the birthday. The company usually gives a $25 gift card to a local restaurant, the movies or from our own Select-A-Gift program (Over 80 choices of brand name gifts per dollar category) and my favorite Lindt truffles in a gift bag filled with tissue. Everyone in the office gets to participate in the birthday celebration, and the person whose birthday it is, is made to feel special. 

In my next post, we will talk more about Select-A-Gift and how it can help you increase moral, build a safer team or say thank you.

Using Food As A Coupon for Discount or Give-Away

Did you know that there are tons of case histories (stories about how others use a product or do a service) that you can use to your advantage? Recently, I was looking through some of our supplier catalogs and came across some very good ideas. Just to give you an idea of some of the case histories that are out there, and please feel free to use this information to your advantage, I am going to give you a couple of ideas over the next few weeks. We also have an Idea Store that is filled with ideas that you can R & D to your hearts content.  Here is an example:

A Sporting goods franchise wanted to create a promotion with wrapper bars (Chocolate candy bars with an imprint on the inside and outside of the wrapper). Our factory produced 10,000 chocolate bars and sent 500 to each of the Sporting goods store locations. The inside of 497 wrappers contained coupons for 5% off a purchase, two wrapper bars had a coupon for 10% off, and one wrapper bar had a coupon for 20% off. The Sporting goods distributor advertised that all customers that came in during this promotion would not only receive a chocolate bar but, inside was a valuable coupon for a discount on any Houseware purchase. Each individual store indicated that they were much busier than usual and reported higher sales during the promotion than the same time the previous year. The sporting goods franchise plans to do this every year.

A computer company advertised that they were going to be giving away chocolate bars at their trade show booth. If that in itself was not enough to get people to the booth the advertisement indicated that inside one of the wrapper bars was a winning ticket for a free computer. The customer reported much higher traffic at his booth than previous years and he had 30% more qualified leads than the previous year. – This can also be done with custom fortune cookies if you do not want to give away chocolate. –

Restaurants can use this same concept for free food give aways, Salons can use it to give discounts on services or free services, almost any business with walk-in traffic can utilize this same type of promotion.

How We Work a Tradeshow

As I said in an earlier post, our entire office team went to our industry tradeshow. There were over 850 booths, with literally thousands of products. I am a bit anal when it comes to what happens at a tradeshow. We have 3 things in mind when we attend.

First, are the education classes; we all need to learn new things about the business and what the trends are for the year. Second, is to see the products that are shown in our new catalogs and third, when and where the fun events are held that we are going to attend while at the show.

To show you how important this is to our business I am going to relate a little story in regard to how I go about giving direction. Some will say it is overkill, but this is how I manage things in my life. I am a huge fan of lists.

It is important to see and feel the items that will be appearing in our catalogs. Our first catalog of the year, “Select,” was mailed out in January, so it was very important that the vendors in that catalog be sought out and each employee see the products first hand. It is also important to ask questions about each of the products, like who purchases this type of product? Do you have any case studies on your products that we can use? Production time, imprint colors, set up fees etc..

During the show, I sent each one of my employees on the show floor with a 10-page document. The first page was just an outline of the education classes they would be taking and a schedule of what everyone else was taking, including room numbers and times. The rest of the document outlined the vendors that were in each of our new catalogs, and their booth numbers, the overview of the educational classes, the events that they needed to attend and how to get to the hotel and convention center.

I just happened to stop by one of the booths, after my team had been there. My hands were full of catalogs and samples (I hadn’t felt the need to bring the bag provided to me the previous day). The booth just happened to be that of a bag and box vendor, and I am sure they thought I was only stopping in the booth to get a “free bag” to empty my hands. – However, I started asking them questions about their “Green Products” and told them that they were one of the vendors that were in our upcoming catalog called “Idea Showcase,” a catalog with over 14 pages of “Go Green” products that would be mailed at the end of that month.

I asked if maybe some of my team hand stopped by at some time during the show and asked questions about their products as well. The representative in the booth started laughing and said ‘Was that you who made the long list of vendors and booth numbers? I saw pages in one of your employees’ hands and asked if we were on some sort of list and they showed me this thick packet of pages of what they were supposed to do here at the show.”

We both laughed. It was at that moment that I realized my team of employees must think, at times, that I am a bit over the top. The factory representative showed me the rest of her product line, a lot of bags and boxes made from recycled paper, and sustainable goods. I won’t go in to detail here about all the exciting new products we saw, including the items from our new catalogs, but I will give you a link if you want to see the new line of Custom Books for Green Living.

By the way, I did get a free eco-friendly bag to put my items in before I left the booth.