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Community Blueprint - Business Walks - PART 2

(Click Here for Part 1)

How does it work?
The program features a half-day blitz of a business community by trained volunteers who ask business owners/managers a very short list of four questions (see below).

a.)   How is business?
b.)  What do you like about doing business in your area?
c.)   What can be done to improve doing business in your area?
d.)  Would you like someone to follow up with your company after the walk?  

This brief format allows for 100-200 businesses to be reached in two to three hours. A typical half -day Business Walk will include breakfast/registration, training for the volunteers, a business walk in the community, lunch, and a debrief session.  Overall, coordination of the event from start to finish typically takes two to three months.

The Business Walk Program helps communities create a unified voice and build a stronger relationship between the business community and local government. The program has also initiated change of burdensome regulations, created crime prevention programs and the 3/50 project. But most importantly, it has allowed communities to target and assist companies at risk: saving them from going out of business, relocating to another community, and saving local jobs. Contact Blueprint Events to see how the Business Walk Program can jump start your community’s business retention and expansion efforts!    



Community Blueprint - Business Walks - PART 1

What is a Business Walk?

A Business Walk is an economic development initiative that, in a short amount of time, allows local leaders to get the pulse of how a business community is doing. The information gathered is then used to help advocate for the business community as a whole, and is also used by economic professionals to identify which businesses require further outreach.

Why were Business Walks developed?

The initiative was created because economic development professionals realized there was a need for Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) on a large scale. However, many economic development organizations simply lack the time and resources to do it all alone. To that end, Business Walks can be used to help you quickly identify individual businesses, which are facing threats and/or opportunities, thereby necessitating further contact to direct them to appropriate resources. The program was developed not to replace traditional BRE outreach but to enhance it, serving as an entry-level opportunity for BRE efforts.

Part 2: How does it work? Why have one in your community?


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Working The Room - Networking

I have planned and attended hundreds of networking events. So I can tell you that there are two types of people who network.

1.     Person A: Walks in and finds the first familiar face. 

2.    Person B: Scopes out the room, creates a plan, and then proactively tries to interact with new people with the intention of helping their business or someone else’s business.

Let me first say this: there is no “correct” way to network. Person “A” might have intended to only talk to colleagues or friends. In that case, mission complete. With that said, if you are person “A” and want to become person “B,” here is some advice to help you make the most of your time and effort.

1.     Set Expectations Before You Go: Do you want to make new connections to help build your business? Are you looking for new clients? Are you looking for mentors in your field? Are you going to support a cause or see a new space? Or is it a combination of a few of these things? Time is money so it is important to make sure you understand why you are attending an event. Then think of creative ways to craft your elevator pitch around your expectations.

2.     Set A Goal For Yourself: Depending on the size of the event and what your expectations are, you should always set a goal for yourself. This will help you stay focused. A few examples would be… “meet three new people” or “talk to one new person in every corner of the room”. If you find yourself at an event where you know a lot of people already, you might set a goal of “introduce two people to someone else you know”. I think this is a “lost art” in a society where a lot of people only think about themselves. There is power in helping others make connections.  As they say… what goes around comes around.  

3.     Using Your Business Card Correctly: The key to having a business card is only giving it away with purpose. Don’t hand your business card to someone unless you really want to connect. If someone wants to connect with you, they will ask for your card. A tip, that has helped me in the past, is writing on my card where we met. As you can see below, I have a space for it on my card (even if you do not, you can still write it someplace on the card). It will help them remember you and then they are more likely to reach out and connect with you after the event. Also if your goal is three new contacts, keep three business cards in your hand when you walk in. Tell yourself… you can only leave when you have given them away.

Good luck and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Make sure you #createyourownblueprint in everything you do.

Business Card

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The Mental Walk Through

In the previous blog, I talked about going on an initial site visit to help determine your event location. Once you pick a location, I recommend doing a second site visit once a few more details and a theme are in place. This second site visit or as I like to call it, the “mental walk through”, will allow you to create a vision in your head while also making sure logistically everything will work for your event.

For many people, having a checklist is very important to help you stay organized. Checklists ensure that all of your questions and concerns get answered and nothing is forgotten. Remember that every time you host an event, your checklist will be different depending on the type of event. Here are just some examples of questions you need to ask yourself…

1.     How will guests arrive? Car, Bus, Taxi etc.

2.     Where will guests park? Self park? Lots? Valet?

3.     How will attendees find the space? Will you need directional signs or people?

4.     Where are the restrooms? How will people find them?

5.     Will there be any other events happening at the same time as yours?

6.     Where will your signage be set up as they arrive? Where in the space?

7.     Where is registration located? Will it be easy to find? Get bogged down?

8.     Where will people hang their coats when they arrive?

9.     How will the tables/chairs be set up? What is the flexibility to adjust day of?

10. Where will your decorations be set up? Centerpieces?

11. What is the lighting like? Will you need additional lighting?  

12. Where will your stage go? Screens? Projectors? Other Audiovisual?

13. How will the food be displayed? How will it be distributed? Where will the beverages be?

14. How will people exit?  

After you visit your site, it is important to make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Many locations will have an event manger to help you throughout the entire process; you may also establish a working relationship with the catering manager and audiovisual manager as well. Make sure you #createyourownblueprint for every event you do.



Why Hire an Event Planner?

A few weeks ago I was at an event and someone asked me “why would my company hire you?” I mistakenly said the thing all corporate event planners say, “I will save you time and money”.  At that moment I could tell by the look on their face they were thinking “so what?” I soon realized that although saving a company time and money was of value, it was not the strongest customer perceived benefit.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population.[1] The need to find ways to help anxiety and stress are at an all time high. rated event planning the fifth most stressful job in the country (military and firefighting were also high stress).[2] The fact is planning an event can be stressful and that is why the strongest customer perceived benefit of hiring someone is to relieve that anxiety and stress.

Not only does hiring a contract event planner help to relieve anxiety but it also allows my clients to step back and focus on their strengths. When planning an event, it is very important to have the necessary skills, connections and ability to ask the right questions in order to gain valuable insights into what the company needs and determine what is logistically possible. Leaving the details and planning to a professional allows for a company to have more confidence in knowing their event will be successful.

[1] Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Facts & Statistics,”, (September 2014).
[2] Career Cast, “Event Coordinator,”, (2014)