Russell’s Ramblings

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

Working a Trade Show – Best Practices for the Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo

my alohaEach year the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce hosts an exhibitors orientation for our local businesses participating in the Lake Norman Business Expo.  It is usually held a few weeks before the show to review the 25 or so Most Frequently Asked Questions.  This year marked our 15th business trade show and over the years of attending ours, as well as other regional shows in Charlotte, Cabarrus, and Mooresville I have see some quite interesting booths. Here are some tips I have compiled for our local exhibitors as they look to get the most out of their trade show experience.

  • First, always get the right look for your booth. Each year we present awards for the Most Professional, Most Creative, and Best of Show.  We’ve had hotels bring out furniture to create the bedroom feel. While certainly creative, it was also a lot of work moving furniture around and with an 8’ x 10” space you are limited.  Remember, those with electricity only have 5 amps of power at the Lake Norman Expo… so NO POPCORN POPPERS.  But if you have electrical power, you can give video demonstrations on your laptops or tablets.  Attendees are drawn to colorful booths.  Pop up displays as a backdrop, banners and signage are important.  Make sure you have flyers, pamphlets, and reading material about your business to give away.
  • Perhaps the most important thing is staff your booth with people who are trained and experienced to answer questions and address the public. Too often I see people sitting in the back of the booth, texting or talking on the phone. Make sure the people you select to work your booth are invested in the success of your business.  Always have someone in the booth and never leave the booth unmanned. It’s always good to have multiple people in the booth so someone can walk around to the other booths and then come back and relieve their partner.
  • Be different – do something that draws people in – dress in a costume, have a model, celebrity, magician, or mascot in costume they draws people’s attention. Some host games with prizes – putting green, spinning wheel, guessing how many coins, buttons, or marbles are in a jar.
  • Offer Business Expo specials – give them coupons for stopping by the booth. It can be redeemed in the next 30,60, or 90 days for stopping by your booth.Executive Women
  • Some booths offer snacks, candy, water. If you do have a goody – make sure it’s properly wrapped. Hard candy and chocolates are always handy!
  • The Chamber will extensively advertise the show through the papers, billboards, and MI-Connection. However, you should use your social media to get the word out. Use Face Book, Twitter, LinkeIn, Pinterest, and the other social media platforms to let people know about the event and your booth location along with any specials.  Encourage folks to take part in the show!
  • Giveaways: I’m always asked what’s the best give aways? One of the most unique was a few years ago The Range at Lake Norman had little flash drives in the shape of a small firearm and a local funeral home had chocolate covered caskets – very clever!!! Pens, bags, USB or thumb drives are always handy as are snack clips, notepads, post its.  Remember, its all about impressions. Will the attendee use your item once or over and over again?

So. Let’s sum it up – create a checklist of what to bring to the expo.  Make sure you have the right people in place. They should be well trained with a consistent message about your brand and service or product. Make sure they are dressed appropriately for the event – what kind of image do you want to present? Create a booth schedule so others can help you not only man the booth but give you time to enjoy the show and meet the other exhibitors present.  Make your booth stand out but be cognizant not to overdo it.  You don’t want to make dozens of trip back to the car loading in and out.  Keep it effective but simple.

Think about giveaways and make sure you have business cards and literature to hand out about your business.

All that brings me to perhaps the most critical piece – the follow up!  You must have a way to capture information about those who show a genuine interest in your product or service.  Have them register for a prize you can give away by dropping a business card or a card you give them  Remember, the primary reason you are there is to generate leads.  This should be stressed when you train your staff. Consider hand writing notes to people who stopped by your booth and seemed interested.

Getting a hand written notecard says volumes and is much more effective than an email.  The personal touch will go a long way to building a business or customer relationship.  Keep in mind, waiting a week after the event is too late.  Reach out while the event and contact is still fresh in their mind.

Above all – have fun!  The Lake Norman Business Expo is a great place to both renew and nurture existing relations and create new ones.  We’re excited to have another opportunity to showcase the Best of the Best in business at the lake.  The Lake Norman Expo is our version of Show and Tell.  Make this trade show – Your Show and I’ll see you at the Business Expo!

June 26, 2015 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lake Norman Business Expo – Our Version of Show and Tell!

Mrs Hope's First Grade Class - Bill Russell, Finley Rd Elementary School

Mrs Hope’s First Grade Class – Bill Russell, Finley Rd Elementary School

Nearly everyone has experienced “Show and Tell” whether it was when you were a student or perhaps assisting your child or relative with their homework.  When I was a student at Finley Road Elementary School in Rock Hill (SC), I was asked to bring something or someone to school that week of significance to me to share with the rest of the class.  I have never been accused of being overly humble, even as a child, and I decided the best person to bring to show off – was me!

As the first-born child, my mother Sarah took great pains to detail every significant event of my childhood.  My baby book was filled with photos, captions detailing the event, locks of hair, and special cards and mementos   I can still recall taking the baby book down from the shelf and stripping many of the photos from the album and creating my own “Show and Tell” project.

That week I shared with my classmates the most significant moments of my life displaying the photos my mother worked so hard to compile.  Not satisfied with mom’s captions, I created new explanations for each photo, with my own creative and adventurous story.

Much to my mother’s chagrin, those photos never made their way back to where they belonged, perhaps strewn across the playground some 46 years ago.  Needless to say, she wasn’t at all happy with me about that.

On Friday, March the 7th, more than 170 of our Chamber members have thePic 1 opportunity to “Show and Tell” at the largest business trade show in the Charlotte market.  Our Lake Norman Business Expo is designed for businesses to tell their unique stories and showcase their business.  If you are an exhibitor, no other venue can give you greater exposure and opportunity than the Expo.  If you are not an exhibitor, please come out and see Business at its Best and support the lake’s retail and service businesses.

By the way, my mother has always had the last word on the “Show and Tell” incident.  At significant family gatherings, mom has reminded my brother and sister why their baby book was not as detailed as theirs.  “It is because how bad your older brother was as a child.  You have Billy to blame,” mom constantly reminds them on this and many other countless examples.

I always respond that I was just breaking her in good for my future siblings.  While my exercise was not what my teacher had in mind, the Lake Norman Business Expo is our business communities’ moment to shine.  I encourage everyone to participate – sharing the event through your social media and word of mouth and I’ll see you at the Expo!

For more information Visit the Lake Norman Chamber website or call the Chamber of Commerce at 704-892-1922.

The Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo will take place at the Davidson College Belk Arena 200 Baker Drive in Davidson, NC 28036 on Friday, March 7th 11 am until 5 pm.  There is no admission charge and the public is invited.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lake Norman Chamber President’s January 4, 2013 e-Brief Newsletter

Russell colorChamber Members and Stakeholder:

Chamber U: A New Small Business Training Program this Tuesday –  Jan 8th 3:30 – 5:00 pm at the Marion Board Room

The Chamber is pleased to announce a new small business development program called “Chamber U.” This 90-minute program held the second Tuesday of each month from 3:30-5:00 p.m. will focus on the operations of a small business including finance, staffing, marketing, and sales. The Chamber will partner with SCORE, the Small Business Administration, Department of Commerce, and our educational partners such as Central Piedmont Community College and Pfeiffer University.

The first program will be held Tuesday, January 8th at the Lake Norman Chamber Randy Marion Conference Room and will be facilitated by SCORE. The Topic is: Developing and Growing your Business: An introduction to SCORE with SCORE counselors John Kurti and Nancy Ridenhour. Don’t miss this exciting event!

Chamber Seeking Nominations for Business Person & Duke Power Citizenship Awards

The Chamber seeks your help in identifying two outstanding individuals in our region. Each year, the Chamber selects a Business Person of the Year. In addition to our Business Person of the Year, we will also present the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award. Both of these awards will be presented at our Annual Banquet Thursday, January 24, 2013. If you know of individuals who should be considered, please email Bill Russell at with an explanation of why they should be considered. The Business Person must be a member of the Chamber. The Citizenship Award does not have to be affiliated with the Chamber and can be a person, group or business. The award will be presented at the Annual Meeting January 24th.

25th Annual awards Gala set for Thursday, January 24th 6:30 PM  –  Havana Banquet & Ball Room

The Chamber will celebrate 25 years of service to the Lake Norman business community Thursday, January 24th at 6:30 pm at the Havana Banquet & Ball Room in Cornelius. Cost per person is $65 and you can RSVP to Jack Stevens at 704-892-1922. Don’t miss this exciting event as we celebrate 25 years of making an impact in the Lake Norman region! For more information, visit the Chamber website.

Transportation Summit set For January 17th

The Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission is hosting a summit on January 17, 2013. The summit, Transportation & Land Use: Impacts of Growth on the Lake Norman Region, takes place at the Charles Mack Citizen Center in Mooresville at 1:15PM. The focus of this Summit is to look at growth in the Lake Norman area – both historical and projected – and explore the public policy impacts of that growth on land use and transportation in the region. Presenters are Jeff Michael, Director of the Urban Land Institute at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Barry Moose, SEPI Engineering.

A detailed schedule and registration information are available at:

Sea TowRegister NOW for 2013 Business Expo

The 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo is scheduled for Friday, March 8th at Davidson College Belk Arena. We are still registering sponsors for the event and are now accepting booth registrations. A standard booth is $250, a booth with electricity is $300. For only $500, you could have a booth with electricity and your company or business name on marketing materials for the Expo. Expo registration forms can be found on the Chamber website, are in the January issue of the Lake Link Newsletter, or you can contact the Chamber at 704-892-1922. If you want more information on sponsorships, general booth registrations, or want to help on the Expo committee – contact Bill Russell at

*** Correction to Wednesday, January 9th Ribbon Cutting ***

8:00 AM – Ribbon Cutting @ Riva Aesthetic Dermatology

Come out and celebrate the first ribbon cutting of 2013 and welcome one of our newest members. Riva Aesthetic Dermatology is located at They are holding the Mixer at: 17039 Kenton Dr #100 in Cornelius (next to Bruster’s Ice Cream).

Lake Norman Women’s Conference set for February 7th

A speech by one of the region’s most-listened to radio personalities and a team-building session highlight the activities during the Lake Norman Women’s Conference, scheduled for Feb. 7 in Huntersville. The conference, which is being organized by the Chamber’s Diversity Council, will be held at the Hendrick Luxury Auto Mall. Registration starts at 11 a.m., followed by lunch and a day of activities concluding with a networking reception at 5 p.m.

The keynote speaker for the conference is former WBT-AM commentator Stacey Simms, while the team-building session will be led by Phil Horton, vice chairman of the chamber’s Diversity Council. There will also be a fashion show, a panel discussion and door prizes. The Women’s Conference is $50 to attend. To reserve a spot, call the Lake Norman Chamber at 704-892-1922. For sponsorship information, contact Gail Williams at Cornelius Today, 704-895-1335.

Mark Your Calendar!!!

The 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo
Friday, March 8, 2013
Davidson College Belk Arena

Presented by
Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram
Randy Marion Automotive

Gold Sponsors
Lake Norman Magazine, MI Connection
Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville

Silver Sponsors
The Herald Weekly, Piedmont Natural Gas, Carolinas Healthcare System

Bronze Sponsors
Advanced Disposal * Alphagraphics Lake Norman* Aquesta Bank & Ins.
Ballas Chiropractic * blueharbor bank * Business Today / Cornelius Today
Capital Advisory Group * Cool Breeze Cyclery * Currents Magazine
Davidson News, LLC * Eastern Roof Technologies
Energy Explorium at McGuire Nuclear Station * EnergyUnited
Fogle Insurance Group * Griffin Brothers Tires Wheels Auto Repair
J.J. Wade & Associates * Joseph Mott Insurance Group, Inc * KS Audio
Lake Norman Citizen * Little Wood Flooring  * Massage Envy Spa              Huntersville *  Newport Properties  *   North Meck Soccer Club  *  Park Avenue Properties * Raymer – Kempner Funeral Home * Redblue, Inc. * Sandler Sales Institute * Sign Innovations * The McIntosh Law Firm * The Range at Lake Norman * Vein Center of Lake Norman * Visit Lake Norman

Sponsors as of January 3, 2013.  Sponsorships are still available by calling Bill Russell 704-892-1922

January 4, 2013 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lake Norman Chamber President’s eBrief Newsletter for Dec 7, 2012

Chamber Members & Stakeholders:

 Chamber 25th Annual Gala and Awards     Dinner Set For Thursday, January 24th at  Havana Banquet & Ballroom

You will not want to miss the Lake Norman Chamber’s 25th Anniversary Awards Gala set for Thursday, January 24, 2013 at the Havana Banquet & Ballroom.  The evening will begin at 6:00 pm with a VIP Cocktail Reception for Sponsors and will include beer, wine and  hors d’oeuvres.  The remainder of the evening will include a plated dinner and formal program beginning at 6:45pm.

In honor of the 25th Year Anniversary, we’ve built in some surprise guest speakers and awards you will not want to miss.  This year will focus on “Growing Business, Involving the Community, and Touching Lives.” Please help us honor some of the distinguished members and volunteers of our business community.  For more information on sponsorships please visit the website or call Brett Zabek at 704-892-1922.

Chamber seeking 2013 Expo Sponsors

The region’s largest business trade show is set to make its return to the Davidson College Belk Arena on Friday, March 8th from 11 am until 5 pm. The Chamber has again signed up many of its marketing partners who will promote the sponsors and event.  Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Randy Marion Automotive are back as the Presenting Sponsors and MI Connection, Lake Norman Magazine, and Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville are Gold Sponsors.  Piedmont Natural Gas and Carolinas Healthcare System are Silver Sponsors.  Also on board marketing the show is The Herald Weekly as a Silver Sponsor and Bronze Sponsors Currents Magazine, Business Today / Cornelius Today, and the Lake Norman Citizen. (A full listing of Bronze sponsors to date will be listed on the Chamber’s website next week.)

The Chamber is seeking additional sponsors, both Silver (Limited to five) and Bronze Sponsors.  2012 sponsors will be contacted to renew their sponsorships which include the benefit of directing their booth placement, VIP event, and recognition on marketing material including the Chamber’s homepage and Expo website. Deadline for sponsorships is December 31st and payment must be received by January 31, 2013.  Download and reserve your sponsorship in the lake’s largest business trade show at: 2013 Lake Norman Business Expo.

Community Corner

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce is pleased to partner with many of our outstanding local businesses during this holiday season.  VisitLakeNorman’s Visitor’s Center and the Chamber of Commerce is a drop off point both for Toys for Tots and a Pet Supply Donation Drive.  To show your support for Toys for Tots, please bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Lake Norman Visitors Center (Chamber & Visit Lake Norman 19900 West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius) by December 14th, 2012. Toys for Tots will distribute all toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Pet Supplies are also being accepted through December 24th with the KobeCares project.  For more information see the Chamber’s website.

For What it’s worth-

A couple of weeks ago Cornelius Commissioner John Bradford and I called on 19 local Cornelius businesses, stopping in to see how the business was doing and how the town and chamber might be able to assist.  Of the 19 businesses,16 were local chamber of commerce members.  This past Tuesday, I had the opportunity to do the same with Huntersville Commissioner Danny Phillips with 12 businesses.  (We intend to make similar visits in Davidson next month).

More visits are planned with John and Danny in the next couple of weeks.  Overwhelmingly the feedback has been extremely positive.  Business revenues have improved over 2011 and most of our businesses expect an even better 2013.  That sense of optimism exists with both service and retail businesses.

While signage concerns were cited in both towns, and the businesses in the Sam Furr Rd / NC 21 quadrant were concerned if not distressed with the new “Quad Left” configuration, overall business is picking up at the lake.  That is why it so is very important that each of you, when you consider your holiday shopping needs, please Shop Lake Norman and support you local merchant!

From the NorthLake Mall to retail centers in Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and Mooreseville – we likely have that perfect gift for a family member or friend.  The staff of our retail stores are our neighbors, family members and friends and they in turn look locally for their local services: from banking to healthcare, insurance to real estate.  Bottom line – it pays to shop local.

Both Commissioner Bradford and Phillips run small businesses themselves – one a real estate and property management office and the other a retail store and I deeply appreciate their willingness to take time to visit out local businesses with me and listen as some of you share both your success stories and concerns.

Danny Phillips, as many of you know, runs the family-owned  Old Store Produce at 14720 Brown Mill Road (Huntersville) at the Corner of Hwy 73 and Beatties Ford Road.  The other day when I took Danny back to his store, it was bustling with activity as people were shopping for their Christmas Trees (starting at just $39), wreaths, and produce.

It’s exciting to hear business is doing better at the lake and each of us can play a part supporting our local merchants.  Shop Local this holiday season and remember the job you might be saving – might be your own!     

Bill Russell

December 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plans are underway for the 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo to be held at Davidson College’s Belk Arena. The region’s premier business trade show will be held Friday, March 8th from 11 am until 5:00 pm. Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Randy Marion Automotive are the Presenting Sponsors of the event.

Bill Russell, president of the Chamber, cited many different reasons why the Expo has been a success for more than a decade. “Lake Norman is home to many unique businesses. These particular businesses meet the lake lifestyle that is attractive to the new homeowners, residents, and businesses moving to the Charlotte region’s dynamic market,” said Russell. Russell also cites the energy of the event, the attendees who typically frequent the area’s largest business trade show and the special events created by the Expo’s steering committee.

The Chamber is now seeking sponsors for the event. In addition to the Presenting Sponsors, Gold Sponsors include MI Connection, Lake Norman Magazine, and Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville. The Chamber is working to secure the marketing partners which bring tremendous exposure to the event along with Silver and Bronze sponsors. For more information about sponsorship in the 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo contact Bill Russell at the chamber at 704-892-1922 or e-mail

“We will be contacting this past year’s sponsors to renew for the event. They have the first right of sponsorship in the 2013 event. We hope to secure our sponsors on a first come-first serve basis,” said Russell. A benefit to all sponsors includes the opportunity to direct their booth placement.

General Business Booths are expected to be released in early December and are limited to the first 165 businesses. If you are interested in working on the Chamber’s signature event, the next meeting is Wednesday, November 28th at 3:30 pm at the Chamber.

November 13, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lake Norman Chamber to Give Away Flat Screen TV at Biz Expo

Join Us Monday March 5th for the Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo   10:00 am until 5:00 Pm at the Davidson College Belk Arena

Visitors as well as exhibitors will be eligible to win a 42″ Insignia – Plasma Flat screen television donated by Best Buy in Mooresville simply for visiting with some of the many businesses exhibiting at the Lake Norman business trade show.  Guests will be encouraged to visit at least twenty-five percent of the exhibitors (35 booths), getting cards initialed from the exhibitors, and then turning in the cards at the registration table.  A $1 donation will be solicited for the Chamber’s Junior Leadership Lake Norman program – a nine month program the chamber conducts for high school juniors

The 2012 Business Expo, is the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s signature event, and will be held Monday, March 5th at the Davidson College Belk Arena from 10 am until 5 pm.  The Expo is presented by Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.  Gold Sponsors include Lake Norman Magazine and MI Connection.  Silver Sponsors are The Herald Weekly, M&M Graphics, and Carolinas Healthcare System.  Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend with approximately 135 businesses and 25 non-profits exhibited in what has become the Charlotteregion’s largest business trade show.  Lunch will be provided by three Lake Norman restaurants: Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails, Fox and the Hound Birkdale, and the Honey Baked Ham Company & Café will serve meals for $8 including beverage.  Tickets can be purchased at the Expo or in advance at the Chamber.  The restaurant menu can be found at

Special event activities will take place throughout the day including dance exhibitions by the Havana Banquet and Ballroom and a Business Fashion Show coordinated by Vickie Stevens. A highlight of the fashion show is participation by area elected officials and business leaders.  The Carolina Raptor Center will also be present with Birds of Prey and area arts and cultural facilities.

Bill Russell, president of the Chamber said, “The Business Expo, now in its eleventh year, is an excellent opportunity for local businesses and non-profits to showcase their products, services, and organizations to the community.  It has also become a tremendous networking opportunity as we re-establish old friendships and create new relationships.

Bill Russell presents the 2011 Best of Show to Wendy Moran and the staff of Peoples Bank

The Chamber at 4:00 pm will draw for the Television as well as offer awards for the most outstanding exhibitors: Best of Show, Most Creative, and Most Professional Booths.  You do not have to be present to win the flat screen television.

For a complete listing of sponsors and exhibitors, directions, and other information see the Expo website at or call the Chamber for more information at 704-892-1922. The Chamber offices will be closed Monday for the show.  Anyone needing to reach the Chamber can contact Bill Russell at 704-650-8987 cell.

March 3, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Special Events will again take Center Stage at Lake Norman Chamber’s Business Expo

Expo is Monday March 5th at Davidson College Belk Arena

A dance exhibition will be featured at the expo

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo will be held Monday, March 5, 2012 at the Davidson College Belk Arena (200 Baker Street, Davidson, NC) 10 am until 5 pm.  There is no admission charge and the public is invited to attend.  This year’s event features 135 businesses and 25 non profit civic clubs, human service organizations, and regional attractions.

Bill Russell, president of the chamber of commerce, says business is bouncing back as the Expo has filled up and organizers are adding additional booths for vendors.  “We are excited to have some of our real estate and home builders back that we were missing in the last couple of years,” says Russell.  “We are also lining up some great activities both at the Expo and the post event wrap up.  The chamber invites everyone, whether a local business owner or employee, as well as seniors and stay at home mom and dad’s, to participate in the region’s largest business trade show.”

This year‘s Business Expo will feature dancers from the Havana Banquet and Ballroom giving demonstrations at 11 am and 2 pm.  There is also a Business Fashion Show taking place at 1 pm that will involve area elected leaders and business executives.  The show coordinated by Vickie Stevens includes area boutiques such as The Olive Branch, Le-Mu-El Woman’s Couture & Design Boutique, Peek-A-Boo Couture, Sanary Alba Boutique, The Fashoenista, Designing Brides, Classic Bride & Formals, Savvy Salon, and Halo Salon.

Models for the show include North Carolina Senate candidates Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte and John Aneralla, Cornelius Commissioners John Bradford and Dave Gilroy, Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain and Commissioner Melinda Bales, Davidson Commissioner Laurie Venzon, business leaders Arlene Arciero, Bill Ellison, and Bill Russell as well as the Miss Lake Norman and Junior Miss Lake Norman.

Approximately two dozen non-profits will be present including the Carolina Raptor Center, Davidson Community Players, Latta Place Plantation, SCORE, and civic groups such as the Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary Clubs among others.

To encourage public participation, Best Buy in Mooresville has donated a 42″ Insignia – Plasma Flat screen television.  Guests will be encouraged to visit at least twenty-five percent of the exhibitors, getting cards initialed from the exhibitors, and then turning in the cards at the registration table.  A $1 donation will be solicited (not required) for the Chamber’s Junior Leadership Lake Norman program – a nine month program the chamber conducts for high school juniors

Exhibitors and guests will also be invited to a special post event reception at The Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse located at 215 S. Main Street in Davidson from 6 to 8 pm.  Appetizers will be furnished along with a cash bar as the business to business networking continues in a relaxed atmosphere

For more information, visit the Lake Norman Expo website at or call the Lake Norman Chamber at 704-892-1922.

February 29, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments