These 6 Tips Can Increase Your Visibility

Association Involvement Can Increase Visibility

Viewing the growing pile of papers on your desk and reading the hundreds of e-mails that flood your in-box each day can often make it seem impossible to remove yourself from the office setting. However, getting involved with associations will not only enhance your visibility, your business image and sales, it can also give you a mood boost, resulting in renewed energy that you can bring back to the office.

While you may already be a member of your own professional association, you should be aware that there are literally thousands of associations and organizations across the country; and many good ones right in your own back yard, the trick is finding the ones that are right for you and for your business.

While you could purchase the Encyclopedia of Associations on Amazon, you can also just resort to Google and find a list of groups in your area.  Another resource worth considering however is www.MarketingSource.com where you can purchase an entire directory (a portion of the Directory of Associations) or select specific areas, for example you can choose New York State which has 1,834 listings at a cost of $225. Many national organizations have local chapters and the Encyclopedia will indicate the location of local chapters, as well as dates of annual conferences and the types of publications each association produces.

Associations afford many opportunities for increasing visibility. Here are a few:

Attend Meetings: Although this sounds too simple to even mention, you would be surprised at how many people join an organization, get their name in the directory, and think business is going to come their way. It is only after you attend meetings and get to know other members that they look you up in the membership directory when they need your product or services. Make it a goal to regularly attend meetings to increase familiarity with you and your business.

Advertise in Association Publications: Advertise in group publications regularly or on the association's website. There are usually a few choices including newsletters, bulletins, directories and annual or dinner journals as well as various banner ad sizes and positions. The ads tend to be inexpensive compared to other advertising vehicles and you may be able to take a larger ad than you could in the local business newspaper. You will reach a small targeted audience that will appreciate your support of the organization.

Write and Submit Articles: Often associations are hungry for well written articles or blog posts that enlighten their readers on a particular topic such as a new law or regulation, an event recently in the news, or even seasonal tips and advice.

Speak for the Group: Associations often invite their own members to participate in programming such as speaking on a particular topic, hosting a roundtable discussion or joining a panel discussion. Let your associations know about your expertise and the topics you could discuss.

Spotlight or Participate in a Trade Show: Associations can offer opportunities to spotlight your business at a regular meeting or at an annual trade show. Hosting a table and displaying your products or literature is a great way to meet members and introduce them to your products or services. Also, consider speaking at a trade show or supplying a gift to be used as a giveaway.

Join a Committee or Board: One of the best ways to increase your visibility (and learn a thing or two) is to join a committee or association board. If you don't have a lot of time to spare, a committee can be a good way to start; board positions often require a larger time commitment but are an excellent way to meet people. This is a terrific source of visibility and one that is often overlooked because of the time commitment. However, contacts made through committee positions can often prove invaluable.

If there are several organizations that you feel would be valuable for your business, you don't have to join them all yourself. Assign different people in the organization to different associations and request that they provide you with feedback on the group and its activities. Remember, don't judge a group too quickly; give your membership time to have an impact on your business.

Finally, meeting new people, making new connections and getting some fresh ideas, can really improve your motivation and give you positive energy to pass along to others in your office.

Risa Hoag founded GMG Public Relations, Inc. in 1991. She is a past president of the Westchester Association of Women Business Owners and before starting GMG was the Director of Public Relations with Ernst & Young in White Plains. She has presented numerous workshops and seminars on public relations You can reach her by visiting www.gmgpr.com, calling 845-627-3000 or sending an E-mail to risa@gmgpr.com.

Why you should care about Title Insurance: Statewide Abstract Celebrates 35 Years in the Industry

I"m sharing this because Ken has been a client for over 20 years. His company is one of the most impressive I have ever worked for; their commitment to excellence is demonstrated in the firm's ability to grow in a market where many others have gone out of business. You can read the reasons why below.

After months of searching, negotiating, and packing, you finally move into your new home in a beautiful neighborhood. One day while sitting on your new stone patio sipping coffee you notice that two trees in the corner of your property have been cut down leaving a gaping hole in the landscaping. Upon closer inspection you realize that your neighbor is putting in a pool and removed the trees to provide more sunlight and he’s installing a chain link fence five feet beyond the trees on the property you own. When you question him, he tells you that it's his property. You call your attorney to ask what recourse you have. He tells you to find your title policy.

After finding the policy, as well as the survey for your property, your attorney tells you that the property does actually belong to you. Frustrated you decide to take action. You ask your attorney to send the neighbor notice and then wait for his response. When he doesn’t respond and continues to build the fence, you move to the next step. The Title Company, who you paid at closing, is now responsible for speaking with the individual on your behalf as he has essentially made a claim that your legal property belongs to him. They will pursue the matter and pay the costs involved because their job is to insure you against any claims against your land.

In another scenario you are interested in purchasing a home and after research and inspection, the title company tells you that they won't insure the right side of the property 5 feet wide and 200 feet long because the neighbor has been taking care of that area and landscaping it for over a decade mistakenly believing that it’s his. The title company knows that this could present a problem should you choose to pursue the matter with your neighbor, add fencing or otherwise claim the property as yours (even though it rightfully is based on the deed and a survey), therefore, they will insure the rest of the parcel, but not that area. You then have a choice to purchase the property, discuss it with the neighbor, come to a solution or not purchase the property, but whatever the decision, you are now an informed buyer.

These are just two common examples of the thousands of cases that have come across the desks of the title insurance experts at Statewide Abstract over the past 35 years. Ken Meccia, President of Statewide, has seen numerous changes in the industry over the past three decades.  "Perhaps the most significant change is the fact that almost every mortgage company and bank now has their own internal title company which enables them to keep more of the revenue stream in house," states Meccia.

Statewide Abstract President Ken Meccia

Statewide Abstract President Ken Meccia

So in an industry that has seen a lot of downsizing how has Statewide, the oldest family owned title company in Westchester, continued to expand? "We believe the difference is twofold, first we have 35 years in the business and during that time we have seen it all! So our depth of experience simply can't be matched. Second we have assembled a dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced team of individuals who care about the clients, understand the work they do and always go the extra mile and I believe that’s what sets Statewide apart and has enabled us to continue to grow as an independent title insurance company while others have disappeared.” 

In fact, while other companies have one or two account executives Statewide has seven and each brings a level of experience from a different segment of the real estate business, so they aren't just reps, they understand this business, the know the right questions to ask and they are strategic when it comes to networking and marketing themselves.

Karinta DiMartino is one of the seven. She has been with the company for 16 years and networks with a scalpel, carefully identifying groups where she dedicates her energy. “I believe in fine-tuning who I spend my time with and my number one goal is to help them do their job better, that way, I'm seen as a resource rather than just an account exec and I believe that makes all the difference. Knowing that you’re in this for the long-term relationship and not just the next deal is what I believe sets us apart at Statewide,” stated DiMartino.

Rick Krasner started with Statewide in September of 1992. "I work a great deal in Westchester on residential deals but also in Manhattan on commercial deals which can get very complicated. Our job is to make sure that no stone is left unturned; we want to make sure that full disclosure happens as far ahead of the closing as possible so there are very few issues at the closing

"Let's face it real estate attorneys are busy, often handling numerous clients at once and even several closings in one day. The faster we can get them complete and accurate information, the faster they can close, and the happier the buyers and sellers will be also.”

Mitchell Usavich has been with the company for 29 years. There isn't any question he hasn’t heard or any obstacle he hasn't faced and those who rely on him know it. He's tough when he needs to be, always straight forward and brings a level and depth of knowledge that is unsurpassed in the industry. Thanks to his experience he is often able to provide answers far more quickly than someone at an agency that only set up shop three or four years ago.

He has dealt with everything from easements and neighbors, rights of way across park lands, underground water pipes and electric lines, landscaping and fencing issues, driveway disputes, missing family relatives who emerge to make claims, multiple mortgages, foreclosures and even properties partially underwater. He deals with each issue the same way, with an eye on getting to the heart of the matter quickly and with the most accurate and complete information possible.

“We want to make everyone look good at closing, the attorney for the buyer who will be able to clarify for his client what rights they have or don't and the attorney for the seller who can be assured any possible underlying issues have already been discovered and addressed. In any real estate transaction there are often surprises along the way and at closing, our job is to ensure that none of them come from an issue with title,” states Usavich.

In the end, it is like any other insurance policy, you hope you never need to use it, but you'll be so glad it's there when you do. And if you are a Statewide client, you’ll know that everything possible will be done to resolve your questions and issues as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

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Have you learned these lessons?

Business Lessons from Sharon Decker, Owner of Eye Designs of Westchester in Scarsdale, NY

Sharon Decker has been a client almost since I started GMG Public Relations. It is so wonderful to learn lessons from pioneering entrepreneurs who are are still at it and succeeding in such a big way! Read what Sharon has learned in her 30 years and then visit www.eyedesignsofwestchester.com . It's the only place I will shop for my eyewear! 

·         Have Passion – Probably the most important thing you can have as an entrepreneur is passion for what you do. If you have passion, you’ll find a way to make the business work. If you are doing something because it seemed like a good money maker, you will eventually be disappointed. If you choose something because you love doing it, you’ll not only find a way to get things done, you’ll enjoy each day you’re doing it, even if it’s not living up to revenue expectations at that moment.

·         Make Customers and Staff your Priority – I have always hired the very best people I could find. Even if the cost was a stretch for my budget, I always felt that having the right people behind the counter and answering the phone would increase customer satisfaction and certainly over 30 years that has been proven to be true. And when it comes to customers, they should be your number one priority! Bend over backwards to make every customer happy and you will have customers for life and a huge extended sales force! Ask any business owner what their best source of business is and they will tell you referrals, therefore, doesn’t it make sense to make sure that every possible referral source is overjoyed with your products and service!?

·         Choose Quality – This is true for the products you sell, the service you provide and the staff you hire.  I have always believed that quality is far more important to people than price.  While people may tell you the cost of something is an issue, when it comes right down to it, quality will win out 99% of the time. The reason is it lasts. We had a customer return with a pair of sunglasses that she purchased six years ago and she was frustrated because they simply wouldn’t wear out and she wanted to invest in another pair but felt guilty not using the existing pair. We convinced her to give them to her daughter and she bought another pair for herself.

·         Take Risks – but take calculated risks and have a Plan B. You want to take risks but the odds should be in your favor and you need to have a plan B in place should the risk not work out so that you don’t panic, you just move into your contingency plan at a point that you have already established.

·         Trust your Gut – the mistakes I made came from not trusting my gut. If I did something when it didn’t feel quite right, it usually wasn’t. Listen to your inner voice, very often, it’s correct. Don’t be talked into something that you really feel uneasy about.

·         It’s Not About Instant Gratification – if you think you will open your door tomorrow and you’ll be profitable and have more customers than you can handle within the first month, you’re probably mistaken. Plan to be in your business for the long haul and you will think more strategically. While social media has made us all feel like everything should be instantaneous, it’s not! Again, plan strategically and for the long haul and you’ll have more satisfaction watching sales grow over time rather than thinking it should happen overnight.

·         Cut Revenue in Half – If you’re just starting a new business, make sure you have enough money behind you to get started. You don’t want to open and then a year into it realize you don’t have enough money to sustain the business. Plan appropriately and then cut your expected revenue in half and see if you can still survive.

·         Work Hard – While this seems like it should be a given, today it isn’t. One thing people seem to forget these days, particularly the younger generation, is that it takes hard work and 120% effort to make a business a success. It means coming in early, staying late, going the extra mile, being the cleanup crew, learning new skills and generally working very, very hard. Albert Einstein said that Genius was 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I would say if you want to be a success in business the ratio is the same!

 

Eye Designs of Westchester is the brainchild of Sharon Decker, who decided in 1984 at the age of 24, that Westchester needed its own fashion-forward designer eyewear retail shop so that consumers wouldn’t have to travel to Manhattan to try and buy the latest styles. Fifteen years later she opened a second location in Armonk, bringing distinctive eyewear designs and personalized service to the Mid-Westchester and Fairfield communities. Eye Designs of Westchester, offers fashionable, sophisticated and unique eyewear, and is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Eye Designs of Westchester is located at 747 White Plains Road, Scarsdale, NY. Telephone : (914) 723-5800  Website: www.eyedesignsofwestchester.com   Facebook: www.Facebook.com/EyeDesignsofWestchester Twitter: @eyedsign


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