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

Lake Norman Chamber President e-Brief Newsletter 11/09/12

Chamber Members and stakeholders:

Bill Russell

Lake Norman Chamber Member Survey

The campaigns are over, the ballots counted, and the election results are in.  Now it is time to look at the challenges ahead and create action plans to solve the issues related to our economy, taxes, business regulations, healthcare, energy, defense and more! 

In the meantime, if you have not already participated in the Chamber’s 2012 Elected Officials Survey, please do so.  We would like to acknowledge the most “Business Friendly” commissioner in each of the three North Mecklenburg towns.  While their selection does not mean the remaining commissioners are not focused on business, we do want to thank those who really put thought and time into soliciting business feedback on the votes they cast and look out for your particular business.

These votes are confidential and no one will examine individual votes, merely the vote total.  The survey has been emailed to the membership.

Luncheon on Thursday to thank Elected Officials

Join us Thursday, November 15th at River Run Country Club in Davidson as we hear from Mayors Swain, Tarte and Woods on the achievements of their Town’s in 2012 and the look ahead.  We will salute all our elected officials as well as recognize the three (one in each town) who have been voted on by our membership as the most “Business Friendly.”  The cost is $16 for members and is complimentary to our elected officials.  The luncheon is sponsored by EneryUnited.

To register, sign up online with your user name and password or call the Chamber at 704-892-1922.  You can also email Jack Stevens at

Huntersville Bonds Approved

Huntersville’s bond package of transportation, infrastructure, and parks and recreation improvements were approved this week by voters.  The bonds, approved by approximately 66% of the voters, will allow the town to make $30 million in needed improvements.  At a Focus Friday event this fall, newly elected NC House of Representatives member Charles Jeter indicated all of the improvements were critical and the bonds were the least expensive way to pay for them.  The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted to endorse the bonds.

Business Works Tuesday November 13, 2012   8:00am -9:30 am

Topic:  Business: What Has You Concerned? 

2012.- It has been a long road. An election year, economic uncertainty, balancing your own budget (never mind the government’s). What has you concerned? November’s BusinessWorks will host a roundtable discussion of Chamber member’s local issues. To participate, please email your concerns by Friday, November 9th to: We will dedicate an eight minute time limit per concern to the top five submitted. If you attended any of the previous panel discussions, you know this format was an overwhelming success!  The program takes place at the Chamber and is sponsored by Boatsman Gillmore Wagner, PLLC,

Sponsorships Now Available for Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo

The 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo is scheduled for Friday, March 8th at Davidson College Belk Arena.  This year’s event will be chaired by Sharon Simpson, Lynn Marshall, and Bill Russell but we are looking for volunteers who want to help plan and assist with the event.  If you have ideas on how to improve our Expo or just want to help on the event, email Bill Russell at  

In the meantime, we are seeking sponsors for next year‘s event:  The Presenting Sponsors are Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Randy Marion Automotive.  Gold Sponsors are sold.  They are MI Connection, Lake Norman Magazine, and Presbyterian Hospital.  We are now seeking Silver and Bronze sponsors.  Download information on Sponsorship Levels and send back the Sponsorship Registration form or call Bill Russell about more information at 704-892-1922.  Sponsorship in the Expo is a great way to promote your business – Let our members tell you why!



Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Vocational Training Program Needs Your Support!

Denise Clark, the Job Coach at Hough High School is seeking local businesses to serve as job sites for the purpose of teaching high school juniors and seniors with disabilities, job skills.  The students attend William A. Hough High School and are in the Occupational Course of Study Program.  The program focuses on job skills development and preparation for post-graduate employment.  To fulfill these requirements, the school partners with local businesses on a weekly basis, for approximately 2 hours, between the hours of 9:30am to 1:45pm.  This unpaid, but valuable work experience, is how you can help us contribute to the success of our students.  Please call or email Denise for more information, or to set up an appointment.  or call 980-344-0514  See the letter link for a more detailed description along with the Vocational Training Agreement.

For what its worth

New False Alarm Code in place for Cornelius Business

This past month, the Town of Cornelius adopted a new code (Chapter 99 Alarm Systems) which it hopes will dramatically reduce false alarms and increase response times by police on actual calls, thereby saving municipal resources. Owners of an alarm will have to register their system with the Town of Cornelius  and pay $10 for a permit every year. Alarm owners 65 and older will have their permit fee waived.

Current alarm system owners will have until Jan. 1, 2013 to apply for and be issued an alarm permit.  I had the chance to speak on this issue this past week, although the public hearing on the matter had passed.  There were three concerns I shared with the Board of Commissioners. 1)  According to the new code, an apartment with one resident is treated the same as a large business which might have as many as 100 employees or more.

It just strikes me that a facility that has as many as 40 different people who could activate an alarm should be treated differently than an apartment dweller.  I realize a response to that scene does not vary between an apartment or a large corporation, but I do believe the circumstances are different.  2) There is a $10 annual fee.  The fee covers the registration of the alarm.  It is quite understandable that the town should cover its costs in setting up the account, and $10 is not a significant amount of money, but once that account is set up… why is there an annual charge?  Like most things in government – does the $10 become $20, the $20 later $50?

3)  Perhaps the biggest concern was the notice.  While it was reported on the Town’s website, published on the agenda, and made many of the papers – few in the business community knew anything about it and none of the larger commercial real estate managers I spoke with who have multi tenants in their buildings.  I told the Town Board that the Lake Norman Chamber supports any measure which expedites response time and protects our homes and businesses.

Looking at this code, it is not an unfair code and certainly a very positive step for the community.  I just think with business input and more wide spread feedback from the town’s stakeholders – it could have been a great code.  I closed my comments letting the town board know there are 803 businesses in the Town of Cornelius and 301 are Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce members.  It is our job to keep you informed and we take seriously our charge to be the voice of business.

Bill Russell, President

November 9, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Several Lake Norman Restaurants featured at Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo

Have Lunch with us on Monday! 

Make plans to have lunch at the Lake Norman Business Expo this Monday, March 5th at the Davidson College Belk Arena (200 Baker Street, Davidson).  The Chamber’s Expo will feature 135 Lake Norman businesses and 25 area non-profits, attractions, and civic clubs.  The event which is open to the public with no admission charge will take place 10 am until 5 pm.

Three lake restaurants will serve lunch from 11 am until 2 pm.  Honey Baked Ham Company & Café (Cornelius), Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails (Cornelius), and Fox and Hound – Birkdale (Huntersville) will serve lunch which includes the meal, desert, and beverage for $8 inclusive.  Lunch Tickets will be sold at the Chamber Booth and registration table at the event as well as pre-sold at the Chamber.

The menus for the three restaurants are located on the Lake Norman Business Expo website.  The Chamber encourages you to purchase your tickets in advance at the Chamber today or Friday and avoid any lines. Visa and MasterCard is also accepted.  Purchase tickets for your staff, family, friends, and clients.

In addition to the three food vendors, The CoffeeBoss will be set up serving delicious coffee as the exhibitors set up and guests arrive at no charge.  There will also be a cooking demonstration with The Grill Doctor set up outside at the entrance after lunch with grilling tips as we move into the spring and summer season.

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 for the Chamber’s Junior Leadership Lake Norman program – a nine month program the chamber conducts for high school juniors

Exhibitors and guests will be invited to a special post event reception at The Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse located at 215 S. Main Street in Davidson.  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 of Commerce at 704-892-1922.

March 1, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | 2 Comments