Corporate Service

Good Networking:

Energy Questions

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Teena Chandy and Melinda Sherwood were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 30, 1999.

All rights reserved.

Business Promotion: Better, Not Bigger

You have just started a business and you want to get

the word out. Perhaps you’ve built a company website or run an ad

in the daily newspaper. Setting your sights high is good, says Al

Warr of the Business Owners Institute, but when it comes to promoting

a small business, "bigger" is not necessarily better. "American

Express can send out a million pieces of mail and work with a 1.2

percent return, but if Joe’s Plumbing Shop does that it’s going to

seriously cut into his budget," Warr says. "You can spend

a lot of money on various types of promotion and you may get two calls."

Warr will give "14 Proven Techniques to Promoting Your Small Business,"

on Thursday, July 1, at noon at the Business Owners Institute at 676

Route 202/206 North in Bridgewater. The seminar is free. Call 908-526-1500.

At the Business Owners Institute, Warr helps entrepreneurs find the

money they need to start up or go public with their companies. "I

always recommend that people put their own money aside in order to

introduce discipline to the equation," he says, "because you

have to pay back the money every month. If you use your own money

you use excuses that a bank or an investment house or a friend won’t

take."

Warr comes from both corporate and small business backgrounds. A chemist,

he went to Mercer University in Georgia and did rocket research during

the Sputnik era. He left a job at an oil company at Exit 8A to found

a graphics company that pioneered in high-end computerized typesetting

for Wall Street businesses. In 17 years he grew it to be a $5 million

firm and then sold it. He has also had a documentary film company,

a real estate firm, and a classical music publication.

Most people starting a small business don’t know much about promotions

and advertising because "they’ve always had someone else take

care of it," he says. "We talk to a lot of corporate people

and they want to own a small business," he says. "Corporate

America and small business are two different planets," and when

it comes to promoting a business, they speak a different language

too.

Small business owners, for example, shouldn’t try to spread the word

far and wide; they need to focus on boosting their visibility within

the local community. Warr’s suggestions:

Use the community newspapers. Community newspapers have

a longer shelf-life than dailies, says Warr, which means your ad will

go further.

Create a simple brochure. Even if it’s simple two-fold

or three-panel brochure created on your own computer and reproduced

at OfficeMax or Staples, have it ready to go, says Warr.

Get involved with the community. Sponsoring a softball

team or a volunteer effort goes a long way towards getting the business

message out.

Use trade magazines.

The best way to bring in new customers, though, is to focus

on the ones already there, says Warr: "They will tell everyone

else about you."

Top Of Page
Corporate Service

In today’s tight labor market, it is very difficult

to keep people motivated, says Robert Murray, president of RCP

Management Company, a Research Park property management firm. One

of the tools he uses to retain his staff and keep them happy about

their jobs is by letting them do community service. "It’s a paid

day off and almost like a company picnic. They work shoulder to shoulder

on a project that benefits the community," says Murray. "It

develops a sense of team work and camaraderie that they can’t get

from their day-to-day jobs."

Everybody has a duty to give back something to the community, says

Murray. Working together in a community service activity makes the

employees feel that their company is involved, says Murray. "It

might be difficult for an individual to give of themselves but as

a group you can give a lot." Murray speaks on volunteerism in

America at the Princeton Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday,

July 1, at 11:30 a.m. at the Forrestal. Cost: $28. Call 609-520-1776.

Murray and his three dozen employees volunteer their time and labor

one week of the year to participate in Habitat for Humanity’s efforts

to build houses in the Trenton area. "If they feel they are part

of this community, this is their chance to help others in their community

who may not have the jobs and benefits that they enjoy," says

Murray.

The goal of Habitat for Humanity is to help eliminate substandard

housing in various communities one neighborhood at a time, says Murray,

whose commercial and property management company has been involved

with Habitat’s efforts for many years. Murray graduated with a degree

in American Studies from Yale University in 1962, and has served in

the United States Navy and in Vietnam.

Murray is also involved in Habitat’s corporate support advisory committee,

which aims to raise money to build 15 houses in the North Clinton

corridor of Trenton, a project connected to the overall redevelopment

of the area along with the Department of Housing and the City of Trenton.

Habitat for Humanity, the international Christian ministry dedicated

to providing all people with affordable housing, has built 85,000

houses since its inception in 1976. Habitat has spread to 1,500 communities

in the United States and 50 countries around the world. In 1998 Habitat’s

house-building efforts in the Trenton area raised $119,600 from individuals,

$135,460 from businesses, and $55,088 from churches. Six families

in Trenton were provided with houses last year.

Some companies contribute labor for their community service days.

This month, for instance, FMC Corporation sent employees out on 12

different one-day projects, and, says Kristine Piazza, 25 of

the FMC-ers worked at Habitat for Humanity sites.

Every year, during Habitat’s "corporate building blitz" week,

corporations in the area make a $5,000 contribution and volunteer

for much of the labor. Some companies sponsor the costs of a whole

house, or a substantial portion of it. Last year Bristol Myers Squibb,

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Summit Bank, Congoleum, Merrill Lynch, Church

& Dwight, Gillespie Advertising, NorWest Mortgage Company, and Target

Stores participated in building houses in the Trenton area.

Typically, says Murray funds for construction come entirely from private

sources. Low income families selected to become the future home owners

provide 500 hours of "sweat equity" and they can purchase

a completed house from Habitat with a no-interest mortgage. Those

mortgage payments are recycled to build more homes in the area.

"In RCP’s case, the boss always comes and works with everybody

else and that is part of the joy," says David Gibbons, executive

director of Habitat for Humanity.

"I got involved with Habitat for Humanity because I wanted to

give not just monetary but also physical support to achieve their

objective," says Murray. "My employees are working on a building

trade they know nothing about. It appeals to their sense of pride

and workmanship. Like vacation and sick days, an opportunity to do

community service is another benefit you can offer."

— Teena Chandy

Top Of Page
Good Networking:

Ask Questions

You don’t have to be a Machiavellian, but strategy is

essential when you’re working a crowd, says David Bailin, founder

of the Professional Alliance Exchange — a networking group for

professionals. "Many people equate networking with idle gossip,"

he says. "People often go to a networking function and talk about

anything from the weather to sports and at the end they’ve had a fun

time but no new leads."

In the techno-centric world of business, schmoozing could easily becoming

a lost art, says Bailin. Drawing on 13 years experience at the Prudential

and New York Life, Bailin composed an original seminar entitled "Tools

of the Trade: Networking, Follow-up and Client Retention," that

he presents for free on Friday, July 9, at 8 a.m. at the Daily Plan

It on 707 Alexander Road. Call 732-274-0098.

Bailin, who earned a BS in finance and marketing at Lehigh University,

Class of 1984, wrote his first business seminar on networking while

recruiting for Prudential. Now president of his own home-based business

— Comprehensive Assets Management — Bailin has a complete

repertoire of seminars that build on his knowledge of business and

financial planning. These are often centerpieces for the Professional

Alliance Exchange meetings on the first Friday of each month.

Networking, says Bailin, can help you establish the personal relationships

that keep people loyal. "You want your clients to become emotionally

attached to your business," he says. Once you have established

a personal relationship, he says, "it wouldn’t matter whether

your product was good or bad or lower priced, as long as you have

a line at your door you’re always going to be in business."

By building solid relationships with other business people, you also

elevate your standing with clients. "You can recommend someone,

not just refer someone," he says. Ultimately, that reflects better

on your company.

How do you get from being a nameless face (or a faceless name) among

potential clients, partners or employers? Bailin says that good networkers

should be strategic but brief, and ask lots of questions:

Begin with the end in mind. "When you go to a networking

function know that the purpose is to develop sales leads, or do whatever

it is you’re looking for," he says. Get specific: if you want

to leave with the names of 10 people who might be good contacts, set

that as your goal. Whatever you do, don’t confuse business with friendship,

he says.

Don’t push, pull. Don’t jump out with a sales pitch. "If

you think of that pushy salesperson stereotype in your mind, you probably

don’t think of them asking questions — you think of them as telling

you things," he says. By asking questions, the "psychology

of reciprocity" goes to work for you. "If you want to tell

someone about your company, ask them what they do," he says. "They

will typically turn around after and ask what you do. You’ve achieved

your objective and the other person doesn’t think about it as being

uncomfortable because it’s normal conversation."

Quit early. Sometimes people will try to do too much,

says Bailin. "The objective is to get just enough information

to develop relationships at a later date," he says. Don’t just

collect business cards: you’ll get a lot of business cards, but not

a lot of contacts.

Follow-up within 48 hours. Schedule a time to really discuss

your ideas.

Network 24-7. "If you’re responsible for any kind

of client retention, you should be networking 24-hours a day,"

says Bailin. Eventually it becomes second nature, and doesn’t need

to be more than a 20-second conversation.

In settings that are not specifically oriented to business networking,

you can be gracious by keeping the conversation short. "The best

thing someone can hear is `this is neither the time nor the place,

let’s set a time to follow-up.’"

Bailin admits that even he sometimes needs to psychologically prepare

himself for networking. His personal trick: "As I’m going in I’ll

think about other networking successes in the past — when I met

someone who didn’t seem like much but who turned out to be a good

relationship."

— Melinda Sherwood

Top Of Page
Energy Questions

If you think you will be confused by the energy deregulation

process (who isn’t?) and if you are a program chairman of a business

group or club, call the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to schedule

a workshop. These free workshops result from a partnership with Rutgers

University to help small companies make their energy choices in the

new competitive marketplace.

The Small Business Energy Awareness Program will provide nearly 200

presentations to chambers of commerce, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, and

other business alliances. Using federal grant funds of $134,900, the

Cooperative Extension department of the university will distribute

specific energy efficiency, renewable, electric and natural gas restructuring

literature to small business owners.

"Rutgers University has already demonstrated its expertise in

educating entrepreneurs and small businesses about important management

and consumer issues," says Herb H. Tate, NJBPU president.

The Electric Discount/Energy Competition Act mandates a minimum 10

percent rate reduction over 36 months for all New Jersey consumers,

starting August 1. Electricity customers will also save an extra five

percent in the next 48 months, due to the Energy Tax Reform Act of

1997.

"Small business owners are also residential customers and active

in their communities," says Commissioner Carmen J. Armenti,

"and educating these key customers will help disseminate the word

about deregulation throughout New Jersey."

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

Joe Savino, general agent of Northwestern Mutual

Life at 777 Alexander Road, underwrote the awards dinner for the Tribute

to Women and Industry program sponsored by YWCA Princeton last month.

Public Service Electric & Gas presented the New Jersey

State Museum $5,000 to help fund the world debut exhibition of "Unseen

Treasures: Imperial Russia and the New World," which will debut

at the Museum on September 26. The New Jersey State Museum is the

only stop on the East Coast for this collection of over 300 art objects

and artifacts from 18th and 19th century Russia.

Twenty-seven New Jersey high school graduates will receive scholarship

awards of up to $6,500 this summer, jointly sponsored by AT&T,

the Communication Workers of America, and the International

Brotherhood of Electrical Workers . The awards are given to students

whose parents are AT&T employees.

Among them are Ripan Kadia, from Hillsborough High School, who

will attend the University of Pennsylvania, and Jane Wu, from

Holmdel High School, who will attend Princeton University.

Duron Paint is lending a helping hand and a fresh new

look to the YWCA of Trenton, which celebrates its 95th anniversary

this year. Duron has provided a donation of goods and services to

facilitate the much needed painting of the YWCA’s gymnasium, fitness

center, children’s room, and more.


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