Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Now’s the Time to Turn it up!

HomeThis past January,  I was asked to speak at a South Carolina Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) meeting in Columbia.  My participation in Jaycees is really what led me into a Chamber career.  For those unfamiliar with Jaycees, it is a service organization for young people ages 21-39 years old much like Optimist, Kiwanis, and Rotary.    When I joined the Rock Hill Jaycees in 1982, I was just looking to get involved.  However, when an opportunity of leadership availed itself, I volunteered to be an officer.  Within a short time I was chapter president.  In a few years state president and in 1992, I was elected president of the United States Jaycees.  In that capacity I traveled to 47 states and 7 countries speaking to Jaycee chapters and other groups about the importance of community service.

Inevitably I also met with chapters who were struggling with membership.  On roll they may have 15 folks but only 5 or 6 were coming out to meetings or projects.  Often the chapter president would confide they had cut back on the amount of projects because they simply didn’t have the manpower to run them.    That’s the last thing they needed to do!  Now’s the time they needed to increase their activity, run more projects, and increase their exposure.  “People in the community need to see you in action.  You can’t recruit new members if they don’t know what you do.”

“Quit feeling sorry for yourself and lamenting how good things were when you had more folks.  Go out there and do your job – make a difference in your community – and people will want to be a part of your success.”     I can’t tell you how many chapter leaders told me over the years that the message we delivered worked for their chapter.   They did turn up the energy and through the exposure of running new projects, new members joined.

Today, many of our businesses remind me of those struggling civic clubs.  When things get tight, we look at ways to minimize our expenses.  Often the first thing we do is cut back on our marketing and exposure.  Perhaps we spend more time at the office and less out in the field.     When things are at their worst is when we must be at our best.  Now is the time to increase your exposure.  When all around competitors might be scratching their heads what to do, you need to get your message to that potential customer or client.  Use your Chamber membership.  Don’t let a networking opportunity slip by that you don’t get in front of another business.

Get out in the community attending local events and programs.  Use every opportunity to showcase why people should do business with you.     The bottom line is this recession we are experiencing is a natural correction of the market.  Just as the sun will set tonight, the day will dawn tomorrow and we can’t have a rainbow without getting a little rain.    In a few months, our economy will come charging back and I expect this region will see recovery sooner than other parts of the country.  We at the Chamber will do everything we can to provide the networking opportunities and create programs that give you the tools for your toolbox that enable you not only to survive but thrive in this challenging time.001_1

However, it’s up to you whether you pull back like a turtle in its shell or you seize the opportunity to promote your business.     As I told those Jaycees many years ago, “There’s nothing we cannot overcome when we work hard, work smart, and work together!”

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March 12, 2009 - Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , ,

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