Monday, February 28, 2011
Our thanks goes out to the 15 CEOs who were on the auction block that night. It speaks mountains about this community that those 15 individuals are willing to carve an hour out of their incredibly busy schedules to meet with another business professional. On the block that night were: H. Thomas Chestnut, President & CEO, AAA of WNY; William Collins, Principal, Travers Collins; Michael Cropp, M.D, President & CEO, Independent Health; Jacqueline Culliton, Sr. V.P. , First Niagara Bank; Frank Curci, President & CEO, Tops Markets; Jon Dandes, President, Rich Baseball Operations; Robert Gioia, President, The John R. Oishei Foundation; William Gisel, CEO, Rich Products Corp.; John Hurley, President, Canisius College; Tim Loftis, Partner, Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel, LLC; Kevin Neumaier, President & CEO, Ecology & Environment, Inc.; Chris Palmerton, President & CEO, Medtek/Buffalo Filter; Timothy Tevens, President & CEO, Columbus McKinnon; Donald Trump, M.D., President & CEO, Roswell Park; and Paul Vukelic, President & CEO, Try-It Distributing. Special congratulations to Michael Cropp, M.D, President & CEO of Independent Health who was the night's biggest draw.
I would definitely be remiss in not thanking our sponsors, especially First Niagara who was the event's presenting sponsor. Other sponsors included Tops Friendly Markets, Travers Collins & Company, Integrys Energy Services of New York, Jaeckle Fleischmann & Mugel LLP, Seneca Gaming Corporation and Summer Street Capital Partners.
Now that the event has passed and business cards have been exchanged, the question is "how do you nurture that new business relationship without seeming too aggressive or creating an awkward situation?"
Here are a few pieces of advice to get you started:
1. Write down any noteworthy personal information the contact shared with you on the back of their business card, along with the date and event information where you met. These small details will help you to reconnect with that person when you do follow up.
2. Invite a new contact to connect with you on LinkedIn. This is one of the easiest ways to stay connected to someone you've just met. This gives you (and them) the opportunity to look over each other's profiles and find out more about the person's professional background.
3. Send an interesting article that is related to your new contact's business/industry. This is a simple, yet effective way to show your interest in their work. A word of caution though. Make sure the articles are worth the person's time to read ... there is nothing worse than having your inbox flooded with information that is of no value to you. Inundating a new contact with usless information is a good way to alienate them.
4. Look for new contacts at the next networking event you attend. Many of the people who attend Partnership's events are repeat attenders so the chances are good you will see them at another one of our events. Many of these people also attend other networking events throughout the region. So be on the lookout for new contacts when you attend events. Saying "hello" at the next event is a great way to stay connected.
Remember, the key to building your network is to create a lasting connection with the people you meet. Following up up shortly after an event is the way to start.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Inform...Empower...Connect...Take Action...Make Progress
BN360 is proud to be a part of We Live NY (WLNY), a coalition of emerging leaders, representing diverse backgrounds, dedicated to improving quality of life in New York State and promoting New York as an attractive place to live, work, and learn. The group is comprised of young professionals from all regions of New York, and the Partnership’s Ann Mestrovich represents Western New York as a steering committee member and leader of the BN360 program. WLNY serves as: (1) a convener of young professional organizations across the State, collaborating to provide a statewide voice among young leaders; (2) an organization seeking to create a culture that fosters innovation among different geographic regions through communication and strategic partnerships; and (3) an organization addressing issues of importance to the emerging leadership in New York State.
Next month, the group will present the We Live NY Summit, brining upstate and downstate communities together to discuss ways to attract and retain young talent in NYS. The event will unite more than 800 young professionals for three days of structured conversations and collaborative workshops at the Statler Hotel at Cornell University. The Summit is devoted to showcasing young adults who are making progress to make change and engage their peers within their respective regions. Interactive panelists and knowledge sharing will focus on Business & Entrepreneurship, Civic & Political Engagement, Culture & Cuisine, Health & Wellness, and Neighborhood & Community Revitalization.
BN360 will be present and we invite other young professionals from Western New York to take the trip to Cornell!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
This past Valentine's Day, Albany got a different spin on the well known "I <3 NY" mantra, with business organizations from across the state coming together to proclaim: We love the property tax cap.
New York State has the highest property taxes in the United States, 78% above the national average. In Upstate New York, you'll find 9 of the top 10 counties in the nation with the highest tax rates when compared to home value - including Erie, Chautauqua and Niagara. When measured in real dollars, our friends in Westchester, Nassau and Rockland counties are 1,2, and 5 respectively. These figures drive people, and businesses, out of New York.
During meetings with Lieutenant Governor Duffy, Legislative leaders, and senior staff to Governor Cuomo, this diverse coalition stressed that the passage of a property tax cap is the first step to forcing true mandate relief, a step that is absolutely necessary to keep our local governments from going completely bankrupt. However, there is more to this cap than just renewed hope for a constantly re-hashed political sound byte for mandate relief: a cap undoubtedly helps the economy grow. Property taxes account for 39 percent of all taxes paid by businesses, totaling $21.9 billion in 2009. Lowing property taxes allows a state to be more attractive to business investment; in layman's terms: JOBS.
The current property tax cap legislation introduced by Governor Cuomo was passed 45-17, with broad bi-partisan support, by the New York State Senate. Now is the time for the New York State Assembly to pass the tax cap. Assembly Leadership, seemingly reluctant to do anything beneficial to Upstate New York, is allowing this bill to languish in committee. I urge you to contact your local Assemblymember (find out who is your representative in the Assembly here) and tell them the time for a property tax cap in NOW. Also, contact your state Senator - all 5 from the Buffalo Niagara region voted YES - and say thank you.
While it may take some time for the Assembly to pass the tax cap, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown today proposed a 3 year property tax freeze for the City of Buffalo during his annual State of the City address. We commend the Mayor for recognizing the detriment rising property taxes can have on a community, and we hope the Assembly will join the mayor of the 2nd largest city in New York State in acknowledging that with controlled property taxes, economic growth and mandate relief are right around the corner.
Monday, February 14, 2011
So how do you break out of our old networking habits? Here are a few simple tips to get you started on the road to a successful networking event:
1. Display confidence when entering the room
Follow the advice your mother gave you ... stand up straight and smile. A smile makes you more approachable. But don't panic if you are not approached right away. Look for the right opportunity to meet others. Take advantage of the event staff ... at a business networking event, the hosting organization will have plenty of staff on hand ... ask one of them to introduce you to some of the people in the room.
2. Be interested
Pay attention to what the other person is saying and ask them questions to help you get to know them and their business. Your chance to talk about yourself will come.
3. Your Elevator Introduction
Be able to tell others who you are and what you do in short, fabulous and memorable fashion (30 seconds or less). The point here is to elevate their interest in who you are so they will follow step #2 and be interested in you in return.
4. Don't overstay your welcome
There is nothing worse at any event than to have exhausted all conversation and be standing in awkward silence. Don't be afraid to politely excuse yourself and thank the person for their time. But be sure to exchange business cards before leaving.
5. Follow through
If the conversation ends with you promising to do something, do it. Whether it is calling, sending an article or making an introduction to another, the follow through will help you move that person to your network of contacts.
Are you ready to network? Check out the Partnership's next event, The HobNob & CEO Silent Auction on February 24th, for an opportunity to mix and mingle with hundreds of business professionals. And take advantage of the opportunity to bid on a few of Buffalo Niagara's business leaders during the CEO Auction.
Want a few additional pointers on networking, attend our free seminar Maximizing Your Networking Opportunities on February 16th at Keybank on Transit Road in East Amherst.
Friday, February 11, 2011
On February 7, Buffalo Niagara 360 presented the 3rd installment of its “Business Leadership Series” with Medaille College. Consultants Dale Stephens and Nick Pitillo from OGP Consulting, LLC provided an interactive presentation on “Leadership and Change” focused on good communication methods and coping strategies during times of change.
BN360 members were led through several exercises exploring potential negative and positive reactions to change. Dale and Nick walked them through a diagram demonstrating the “Likely Employee Reactions to Announced Change”, a breakdown of employees’ typical reactions to change (10% angry / 65% fearful, skeptical, and distrustful / 15% uncertain but open / 10% hopeful and energized). The point they stressed was managers have to address employees’ varying reactions to change – and their willingness to adapt – by using appropriate communication strategies.
“I can stand what I know. It’s what I don’t know that frightens me.” Francis Newton
Good communication was identified as the key tool managers can use to effectively present change and mange their employees’ reactions to it. By proactively listening to employees’ reactions, informing them that you understand their concerns, and planning for next steps (asking for understanding, soliciting their ideas) managers will have a higher chance of getting their employees to accept change.
The content wasn’t geared just for managers, but also for any employee who has to work with change in the workplace. Dale and Nick also helped attendees create personal plans for “self management” during times of change and stress.
Save the date for the 4th part in our “Business Leadership Series”: April 11 at Medaille’s Amherst Campus
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The Partnership's favorite social media tools are: Facebook (all the young and mature kids are doing it), Twitter (used for sending quick messages called Tweets … 140 characters or less please), LinkedIn (a great tool for business networking), Blogger (each of our “experts” contributes a blog in their area of specialty ... if you're reading this post, you've already found us) and YouTube (we post videos of our events so you can relive your memories or find out what you missed).
So now you know which social media tools you are going to use, but next comes the bigger question ... how do I get started?
Ultimately, you can’t go into the social media world and expect an instant return. It is more like building a snowman ... something we Buffalonians know well. You start off with a small amount of snow and roll it around for awhile. It may seem like nothing is happening for a long period of time, but then before you know it you have a very large marketing base.
Step 1: Setup
Choose the social media sites you are most comfortable with. And start with 1 or 2 outlets to get you going. Ask yourself these questions while you’re setting things up: What is my brand, business, or organization? Which services are you most familiar with from the start? What types of imagery, photos, and styling would you like to use? What are other companies in your industry doing? Have you ever blogged?
Then start to build your follower base ... invite your family and friends to become followers first.
Step 2: Define Your Schedule and Focus Your Content
You have a few followers in your network. You have your sites looking the way you want them to with personalized or branded backgrounds/logos. Your Facebook and Twitter pages are linked together. The time has come for you to develop your posting schedule (defined by your followers' level of expectation) and determine what type of content engages your users.
Ask yourself: How often can I share/create content? Does my following enjoy industry videos, images, jokes, quotes or questions? How should I mix things up? What types of questions should I ask my followers? How do I engage my users with contests or promotions that don’t seem like marketing?
Once you have decided how often you want to post to your social media sites, determine if you want to use a program like Hootsuite which allows you pre-schedule your posts.
Step 3: Growth
Growth is not strictly about the numbers ... it’s a steady pace of engaged users combined with numbers. Growth is all about trying to establish a steady pattern for a length of time.
Here are a few tips to help with this step:
1. Don’t make any significant alterations to your website or social media accounts ... let people get used to your sites first.
2. Consider launching some simple ads on Facebook, Google Adwords, Twitter and local blogs. Establish a budget ... do not spend a lot to start (I wouldn’t spend more than $50) until you can see where your advertising is the most effective.
3. Observe how people are finding you.
4. Don’t get discouraged it takes a little time to affect masses in social media.
Last but not least
When you have been through it all, be excited! And just like everything else in life, keep learning ... explore what is current in social media and add to your business/organization's arsenal of social media tools whenever appropriate. Stick to it, keep your content fresh and you will see the rewards!