Networking Gone Crazy In Cherokee County

As president this year of the most dynamic networking group in Cherokee county (maybe in the entire north metro Atlanta area), it’s been my pleasure to work with really genuine business people and entrepreneurs who are all in it for the greater good, and for the benefit of the other members. The Southeast Cherokee Business Network is a phenomenal group of about 40 businesses from Canton, Woodstock, Ball Ground, Holly Springs, Marietta, and the north metro area.

At today’s meeting, the 2009 Board of Directors presented the business updates since taking office in January, and WOW! This group of 5 or so people (and committee chairs/members) have really pulled off a tremendous amount of marketing, operational updates, procedural changes, and overall growth of the group. We’ve had some members leave at the onset, but overall the general feeling is positive, uplifted, and dedicated to moving forward as a group and individually. We now have a solid waiting list of businesses trying to get a spot in the group, we’ve had county-wide press coverage, our website is growing, our members are learning new ways to market their businesses, membership is growing, etc etc.

Here are some specifics:
1. Referrals are up 275% over this time last year
2. We’re only 9% behind all of 2008 in potential dollars via these referrals.
3. In two short months, our electronic referral system has caught up with the traditional paper method.
(thank you Mike from Defender Pest Protection for the OUTRAGEOUS slide-show with charts, music and sound effects). Hopefully we’ll have that online soon for the general population to gawk at!).
4. We are under budget so far this year and have more money on hand for events than we did January 1st. (Betsy from Jones & Cloud Insurance keeps the books – and the budget to the penny!).
5. The Board has voted on 15 resolutions in 3 months. (Lisa from Maxsell Realty keeps great minutes in addition to being our social networking guru).
6. The website has averaged 200 unique visitors a month consistently since January – without any additional SEO!
7. The membership application process has been streamlined, online.
8. The meetings being each week with a custom slideshow (thank you Harold from Store Smart Self Storage!)
9. Our printing costs are WAAAY down with the new half sheet member directory that puts each member right in front of prospects. (Thanks again Mike!)
10. Our social committee is buzzing with After Hours Socials (two so far this year) and a planned Family Picnic for June (Lisa from ServiceMaster coordinates all the fun stuff we get to do as friends!).
11. Sunshine is always fun, as Chris from A Timely Greeting has corresponded with members and past members, sending well-wishes, congratulations and sympathy cards from the SECBN.
12. Membership is growing! And Carolyn from K.E.Greene Mechanical is back from her awful experience in December, and has taken the reins for coordinating visitors and new members.
13. Our Guest Speaker series was set to a high bar when Jo-Ann Culbert of Coaching Support Services, Inc. visited our meeting twice so far (one more to go!) and teach us about Booking Ourselves Solid. She’s an awesome speaker and we’re thrilled to have her. We have future speaking dates set with Dave from Kindness Revolution and Brodie Brown, social networking CPR man.
14. Speaking of social butterflies, Lisa from Maxsell and Neal from Kinetic Computing are hard at work educating members on the ins and outs of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more. Blogging is a hot topic, and we’ll be picking up on that in the coming weeks.

If I’ve left someone out, please let me know.

OK so here’s the challenge! We cannot rest on our accomplishments, because there’s so much more to do. Here are the Presidential Challenges I’m setting for SECBN members in the 2nd quarter of 2009:

1. Increase referrals by 25% by the next business meeting (that’s 125 referrals or $144,350 in business!).

2. Have breakfast, lunch or a drink/coffee with at least 1 other member (whom you haven’t met with before!).

3. Join 1 online social media site (Linked In, Twitter, Facebook) and link to your SECBN partners. (Join Lisa tonight 4/1 on LinkedIn!).

4. Write a recommendation for at least 2 other members of SECBN either on a social networking website, on Merchant Circle, Yelp, Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Kudzu, or just via email (so the member can add the testimonial to their own website and marketing!).

5. Write a testimonial of the benefits you’ve received from SECBN membership and email to me to add into our group’s marketing – we want all of Cherokee county to know what an outstanding group of local businesses we have in SECBN and how the relationships that have been formed produce friendships, business, opportunities and more.

The goal this year is growth – for the group as a whole, and for the members themselves – even if that means leaving your comfort zone. Therefore, I look forward to hearing from every member over the next couple of months with some type of progress. And I WILL put you on the spot if you aren’t doing what you can to meet the challenge!

And of course, there's Inspired 2 Design, enjoying being a part of the SECBN, and here to help all the members make the most of their marketing!