Category Members

At the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, we’re always looking for ways to help our members become better at what they do.

Starting this week, we’re presenting a periodic “Moment for Business” video feature that we hope you’ll find both interesting and instructive.

Our first video is entitled (appropriately enough) Are you a leader that leads?

We hope you enjoy.

 

 

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If you or your business has been nominated for one of the 15 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards for the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, there’s only one thing to say: CONGRATULATIONS.

As anyone who’s lived with the complexities of email can attest (even 50 years after we figured out how to land humans on the moon), things don’t always go according to plan.

And some nominees—we’ve been told—either didn’t receive their notifications or thought they had run out of time.

We DO need to hear from you, especially since we’re getting ready for the teams of hard-working, volunteer judges are anxious to pore through the submissions.

If you’ve been nominated but not sure what comes next PLEASE CALL US at 519-336-2400 or send an email by clicking HERE.

And good luck to you on Friday, October 18 at the Imperial Theatre. If you haven’t purchased your tickets, click HERE before the best spots are gone.

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It will be a great opportunity to celebrate the advent of fall—a few days early—when the Town of Petrolia hosts the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce Business After 5.

The big day is Wednesday, September 18 and the place to be is Victoria Hall.

The Town of Petrolia, always a great host for these events, is rolling out the welcome carpet for this great networking event, so be sure to put it on your calendar—from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

We’ll see you there!

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She’s a Dragon; an engineer; a Venture Capitalist, and serial entrepreneur.

Michele Romanow started five companies before she was 33, is lauded as one of North America’s boldest and most successful entrepreneurs, and she’s coming to Sarnia on October 10 to deliver a keynote for Sarnia-Lambton Business Week.

Romanow’s list of accomplishments, accolades and collaborators is long and impressive. She’s the ONLY Canadian listed on Forbes’ “Millennials on a Mission,” has collaborated with Sir Richard Branson, and was named Angel Investor of the Year by the Canadian Innovation Awards.

She founded Buytopia.ca and SnapSaves, which was acquired by Groupon. At 34, Romanow has a thing or two to share about achieving success, but unlike many she freely acknowledges the role failure and iteration play in any entrepreneurial journey. An engaging storyteller who recognizes the extraordinary resiliency required of an entrepreneur, Romanow’s latest venture as co-founder and president of Clearbanc, is poised to invest $1 billion with tech entrepreneurs in 2019. Clearbanc’s growth is remarkable; in July 2019, it announced it had raised an additional $300 million US in capital to continue its impressive growth.

News articles describe the concept as an attractive and innovative model, bound to leverage “billions upon billions’ as they grow.

Dan Nova of Highland Capital Partners was quoted in July 31st edition of The Globe and Mail ‘It’s rare, as a venture capitalist, to see as powerful a concept come down the pike as we’ve seen with Clearbanc.”

Perhaps best known for her side gig as a Dragon on the perennial hit CBC show “Dragons’ Den.” Romanow returns this fall for her fifth season in the Den.

This event promises to be the highlight of the fall calendar and will serve to inspire the business community of Sarnia-Lambton of all ages to know they too can strive to achieve great success.

The Sarnia Lambton Business Development Corporation extends its gratitude to local credit unions, whose cooperation in co-presenting this event is a nod to the collaborative approach played by the local business community. Tickets will be available for sale on Monday, September 9 at 10 am, and will sell out quickly!

Tickets ($60 each) are available online by clicking HERE.

 

 

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If you’re online for business, you’ve likely been told to engage and be human. But what does that look like? And can you do it wrong?

Yes, you can but it’s also easy to avoid these common mistakes.

—Not knowing their audience. Humanizing your brand online is easy if you know who you’re talking to. If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll find connecting and engaging to be a lot harder than it needs to be. Analyze your demographic. Where are they? What platforms are they on and what do they like to do there? Knowing these things can ensure you reach them where they are in a form they’ll enjoy. Speaking of which…

—Using the wrong media. Young people love video. It’s a preferred form of learning and entertainment. If you want to appeal to a young group, video is a great medium. If you want to appeal to readers, it might not be. Again, knowing your demographic will help you understand their preferred media. If you don’t know, ask. Or create the same content across multiple mediums. (This is an easy way to build your content library too while ensuring everyone can interact with your content their way.)

—Not sharing enough. Some businesses fail to share themselves and their culture with their audience. Think of it like going to a social event and answering everyone’s inquiries with a “yes” or “no” and nothing more. That becomes boring for those you’re speaking with. The same is true of social media. If you just post articles with no commentary and no tone, your feed becomes very boring.

—Sharing the wrong things. There are many polarizing topics these days: religion, politics, topics involving Constitutional law and fringe groups. Shoot to provide value and avoid topics that could polarize your audience. The only exception to this is if your business is based on inciting topics.

—Listing platforms they’re not active on. Ever go to a site where they list their social media icons so you can connect with them on other platforms? When you click on them, you see they haven’t posted there in months, maybe years. If you’re not there on a consistent basis, take them off your website. You can retain the profile but don’t publicize it until you plan on using it consistently. If you publicize it but don’t use it, people will wonder if you’re still in business.

—Not having a website. Social media is great but you don’t own it. Your preferred platform could be shut off tomorrow or your account could be frozen for no reason. Then try calling that platform to straighten it out. Good luck. You could lose years of content with no warning. Always have an online presence that belongs to you and back the content up regularly on your own or with a service.

—Having a bad web presence. A bad web page is just as bad as none at all. A bad web page is one that:

  • has spelling errors
  • is difficult to read
  • is not updated with fresh information
  • looks slapped together
  • takes a long time to load
  • pulls content from someone else (that’s plagiarism, by the way)
  • has outdated social media profile icons on it
  • has out-of-date information like your address or
  • is difficult to find the information that is being sought.

—Not being human enough. Don’t think of social media as a megaphone, it’s a conversation. Yes, you need to post but you also need to listen and respond. Get involved in conversations with people. Be human. Ask them questions and take an interest in them.

If you are trying to become more human on social media and in your branding, you want to avoid these common mistakes. They’re common because they’re easy to do. Businesses are told to share on social media, to post good content. But not all of it is as effective as it could be. Avoid this list and you’ll be well on your way to more meaningful dialogue with your audience.

 

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Networking opportunities are everywhere. You no longer must leave your house to be able to network, but studies now show that online networking doesn’t hold the same power as in-person networking. Networking is critical to landing a job, learning about opportunities before they are broadcast, and getting more sales for your business.

You need to do it, even if you hate it, and one of the easiest most effective networking groups is the chamber. But the chamber does more than just introduce you to others. It offers very strong networking tools and opportunities. Here are several things you probably didn’t know about how you can improve your business networking with chamber membership.

According to HubSpot, 85% of people “say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person business meetings and conferences.” Chambers facilitate this on a weekly basis in some form or fashion, but there are a host of other ways they can help you improve your networking. Here are 5 ways the chamber can make you a better networker that you might not have thought of.

1.  In-Person Events

The Chamber offers a host of in-person events from formal networking events to informal member mixers. There are even opportunities to sponsor events and showcase your business location.

2. Networking Assistance

If you’re like most people, you’re not a natural networker. It’s something you do because you know it’s necessary, but not something you enjoy. The Chamber is rich with experience and advice on how to improve your networking skills. Check to see about networking courses or training. Also, don’t be shy to admit to Chamber staff that you’re struggling with networking. They can easily keep an eye out for you and help introduce you to the people who can make a difference in your business. You don’t get this kind of service from an online group.

3. Leads and Mastermind Groups

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has helped organize groups where business professionals from the community bring leads for one another and help the members grow their businesses. These groups are often more targeted than the open networking events for the entire Chamber membership. Getting to know a select group of business associates in your industry or a complementary one, can help your business take off.

4. Thought leadership opportunities

The Chamber is open to having members share their knowledge in the form of educational sessions. This can position you as a thought leader in your industry and helps with networking after the event. People will naturally want to discuss the materials you presented.

5.  In sight, on the mind

Most people are extremely busy these days, particularly business owners. While social media can be a very effective tool for keeping in touch, it’s too easy to miss people’s posts there. At an in-person event, on the other hand, you come face-to-face with someone and they’re immediately on your mind again.

When you’re an established acquaintance and people know, like, and trust you, they are more likely to buy from you and refer you to others. Plus when they know you (from having met you in person), your social media posts will be more meaningful to them.

A final word about how the Chamber can make you a better networker

Networking is painful for most of us but having an organization that specializes in it can help you get the training and assistance you need to get more customers and grow your tribe. Chamber membership is a pretty small price to pay for that.

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The Mike Weir Foundation, the philanthropic organization created by the Masters champion’s family, has announced a partnership that will help fund a mental health initiative geared to help young people in the most vulnerable age group—11 to 25 years old.

Representatives of the Foundation have outlined plans for an ACCESS Open Minds site for the Sarnia-Lambton community.

The initiative, which is being endorsed by Bluewater Health, will mirror an existing facility in Chatham-Kent, according to Paula Reaume-Zimmer, integrated vice-president, Mental Health & Addictions at Bluewater Health and Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent.

The Mike Weir Foundation will be organizing a Par 3 Challenge for Mental Health, scheduled for September 19 at Huron Oaks Golf Club, as a way to spark the fundraising effort.

Weir will be attending the inaugural event, which will be limited to 108 golfers playing in threesomes.

The Foundation will be matching donations raised up to $200,000, which means the total could reach $400,000 including matched funds.

The ACCESS Open Minds site is intended to address a critical gap in mental health services.

Information on sponsorships is available by contacting Wendy Bennett of the Mike Weir Foundation.

Pictured at a recent event announcing the initiative are, from left, Kathy Alexander, executive director of Bluewater Health Foundation; Alan Stevenson, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association Kent branch; Sue Barnes, executive director, St. Clair Child & Youth Services; and Paula Reaume-Zimmer of Bluewater Health and the CMHA.

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Lambton College is hosting an exciting competition and very popular demonstration of the skills and professionalism of firefighters at September’s Western Ontario FireFit Championship, taking place Friday, September 6 through Sunday, September 8.

The event will feature Sarnia’s own Ian VanReenen of Sarnia Fire– the reigning Canadian and World Men’s champions and record holders.

Of particular interest to members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be Friday night’s Corporate Challenge.

You can find the sign-up form for the Corporate Challenge by clicking this link: 2019 Corporate Challenge Sign Up Sheet.

Lambton College Fire students have competed in FireFit for the past 20 years and in that time have brought back Canadian as well as World championships.

The Scott FireFit Championships is a competition based on firefighting tasks commonly performed in emergency situations.

August 1994 saw the first Canadian National FireFit Competition held at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. During the 15 days of the P.N.E. approximately 50,000 spectators enjoyed the event.

With the success of the P.N.E. Event, seven FireFit events were scheduled and held from coast to coast in 1995 with over 715 competitors from more than 105 Fire Departments participating.

The popularity of the FireFit Competition has grown over the past 27 years and visits every province in Canada. With the popularity of two one-hour Championship Finals show, aired on TSN. FireFit has become known not only in Canada but worldwide.

 

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Content marketing provides the kind of quality content your audience is looking for. Marketers in today’s business climate must yield to the interests of their customers to be successful in the same way that party planners who want people on the dance floor must select music the vast majority of people in attendance will find appealing.

Content marketing has to start somewhere and the best place to do that is with a couple of evergreen pieces. These are strong heavy-hitting, attention-getting pieces of content you know your audience will respond to. Before you begin creating the content suggested here, make sure you have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is (from demographic and preferences standpoints), what they are looking for, and how you can help them. Knowing this vital information is essential to creating the content they care about.

Once you know who you’re speaking to, it’s easier to create content personalized for them. If you serve multiple types of customers, either narrow it down to your ideal customer and market only to them or create several buyer personas and produce content that will appeal to each segmented group.

Your Business Story

This is not your About page. This is the story you tell through interactions with your customers. Your business story should follow a traditional story arc/plotline of:

  1. hero wants something
  2. hero faces obstacle in trying to get what he/she wants
  3. hero is helped by mentor-type and ultimately succeeds in getting the desired object, status, or outcome

Before you run off and start penning the obstacles you faced in opening your own business, remember this is not about you. To craft an appealing business story to your audience, you are not the hero. Your business is the kindly mentor – the Obi-Wan character – who helps the hero, your customer. This is a much more evocative approach from an engagement aspect than telling everyone you are the hero and got exactly what you wanted at the end of the day.

Cast your customer in the role of the hero and you’ll have potential customers looking at that role and thinking they, too, could be a hero. All it takes is determination (and your help).

An Answer to Your Most Asked Question

Another component of effective content marketing is producing content in the medium your audience responds to. You can figure this out by dedicating some R&D time on social media. Share video, audio, and written pieces on the same topic. Which format consistently gets the most shares? Create more content in that format.

After you know what content your audience prefers, take to that medium to answer the most common question asked of your business. Here are examples of popular question types (insert the critical information that applies to your business):

What’s the difference between __________ and ___________?

How do I know I need a new _____________?

How much do ____________s cost?

How do I know if I’m dealing with a reputable ______________?

How do I select the perfect ____________ for me?

When creating the content, use the question as the title. People often search by entering questions not keywords. For instance, if I want to know if I need a new air conditioner, I am more apt to search something like:

How do I know if I need a new AC?

than

air conditioners

Creating content-based on customer questions is more likely to place you higher in search results than merely optimizing for keywords.

A Gallery

If you sell products or services that are visually appealing, create a portfolio to showcase what you sell. If you are an accountant, placing 1099s on your site probably won’t yield any conversions and could lead to breach of privacy lawsuits; create a gallery of testimonials instead.

This can be done formally by asking clients for them and creating case studies, or compiling them from other places and housing them on your website. Some people even use Favorites on Twitter to capture positive things people have said about them. Then when someone asks for testimonials, the business refers them to their Twitter profile’s Favorites section. The one problem with this is that you don’t own Twitter and they could remove this feature overnight without warning.

In addition to these three types of content you need to be committed to consistent content creation and posting.  Select a schedule you know you can adhere to and provide helpful information from others to fill in the gaps. Your customers may even be a source for that content.

Whatever your schedule or your content source, the most important thing to remember is that content marketing is like hosting a party. If all the food, drink, and entertainment are your favorites and not that of your guests (or customers in this case), you can be assured they won’t stay very long.

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An upcoming event organized by the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership, Sarnia-Lambton Local Immigration Partnership, and Lambton College (with support from the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce) is designed to help employers with their hiring challenges.

On Friday, September 27, a FREE TO ATTEND innovative and engaging employer breakfast will provide an overview of how local employers can learn about the benefits of harnessing today’s global workforce talent.

Taking place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Lambton College Event Centre, Harnessing Today’s Global Talent will educate employers on the value of hiring and retaining international employees, the community impact of having global talent in the local workforce, and resources for employers interested in creating a diverse workforce.

To register for this FREE session, click HERE.

 

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