Rose Knows Everyone! (Can you imagine your business if you knew everyone too?)

 

I love connecting people—putting them together and watching relationships blossom on a personal and business level. It’s what I do, and I have to say, I’m pretty good at it!

Once someone finds out I run and manage a professional networking group, the conversation usually continues with them asking, “Where and when are your meetings?”

My response is always the same: Coffee and Connections has three weekly meetings, two in Longmont and one in Westminster, and they all start 8:30am.

Then some people say, “But that’s too early for me.”

Well, guess what? Coffee and Connections also has an evening event once a month when we spotlight a local nonprofit. It just $25 and includes networking, food, and drink, with a portion going to the nonprofit.
Then some people say, “That’s too expensive, but would you mind passing out my business cards for me at your events?”

I smile and mention the Coffee and Connections Facebook groups where members can promote their business, products, and services. The only thing I request is that members connect with each other so I can add them to the groups, which have nearly 1,000 members.

Then some people say, “But I only connect with friends and family on Facebook, but you can ‘like’ my business page.

I think to myself, “You want my business, but you don’t want to friend me; you don’t want to get up early to attend meetings, but you want me to promote your business?”

The question is, how can I support and promote a business when I don’t know who you are? I understand not connecting with certain individuals and being cautious about the people you connect with. I respect that; however, I do business with those I know, like, and trust.small_size_people

If you’d like to connect, I would like to take a few minutes of your time and chat. First of all, how did you hear about me? I’ll bet someone told you that “You need to meet Rose; she knows everyone.”

I didn’t give myself that crazy tagline, everyone else did, but let me explain how I got it: I show up!!

I get out of bed in the morning, and I make sure I’m fully present. I support nonprofits, I attend their events, I donate my time. I’ve spent a couple of years on the boards for the Longmont Theatre Company, Longmont Public Library, and the Longmont Museum. I spent hours working on fundraisers for the local Rotary Clubs, Longmont Humane Society, OUR Center, INN Between, and many more nonprofits in our local community. I didn’t always have the money to attend some events, so I would volunteer, but I would always pay for networking groups when I knew I would get business referrals.

I now get invited to all the fundraisers in the area, plus political events and religious gatherings. I’ve had the honor of speaking in front of many groups throughout Colorado on networking/marketing/social media; I’ve been on radio talk shows; I was a judge at the preliminary Miss Nebraska Pageant; I’ve emceed many events; and most recently won the title as Mrs. Congeniality for the Mrs. Colorado America Pageant 2014.

All this because I woke up and showed up and introduced myself. I took time to get to know other professionals, and now I can refer these friends to others.

I plan to grow my network by continuing to show up, and I can’t wait for you to show up.

Let’s get to know each other. I want to hear someone tell me that I need to get to know you, since you will now know everyone too.

Peace, Love and Joy

Once upon a time there was a four-year-old little girl being raised with five older siblings by a single mother in a farming community in Iowa.

This little girl’s first memory of Christmas was of her mom and all the unique styles of the 1960s—like the small silver tinsel tabletop tree on the record player, on top of a lace doily embroidered with mistletoe. Under this tree sat a plush (and actually sort of scary-looking) Santa Claus that her mom proudly saved her money to buy. For some reason, this little girl loved that Santa, so for two weeks a year, he became her security blanket; she felt safe and loved when cuddling that scary ol’ Santa because, to a four-year-old, no bad things can happen when you’re cuddling a Santa.

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Since money was scarce, her mom had a no-cost tradition on Christmas Eve, and that was to get all six kids in the car (without fighting over who gets to lay in the back window, or yelling that someone touched someone else) and go into to town to drive around and look at Christmas lights. The little girl brought the scary, freaky-looking Santa along, and this Santa was her constant companion for several Christmases to come.

Today, that plush Santa sits in my living room and is never put away. It’s still my constant companion, reminding me of peace, love, and joy.

To me, the true meaning of Christmas—and the holidays in general—isn’t the money we spend, or how many parties we attend. It’s the prayers we say from our lips and from our hearts; it’s the smile we give to strangers and our friends; our kindness towards one another; and the forgiveness we give to others who for some reason we feel have done us wrong. It’s telling someone you love them unconditionally—no strings attached.

And it’s looking ahead to the new year, remembering our cherished memories and traditions… and looking forward to making new ones during the fresh beginning that this time of year always brings.

Happy Holidays!

Reviews vs Cyber Bullying

roseI saw a great quote on Facebook the other day, one that really stuck with me. It said “No matter how educated, talented, rich, or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all. Integrity is everything.”

It was perfect timing for me to see it, because it’s something I was just thinking about—I am absolutely outraged about how some people use social media to bully businesses. There’s a big difference between a “review” and what is actually “cyber bullying,”. It takes a lot of courage, money, and time to put yourself out there to risk everything you have to start a small, locally owned business, so the last thing business owners need is to be “set up” for a bad so-called review. Constructive criticism should be welcomed by business owners when it’s brought to their attention, but it shouldn’t be plastered all over the Internet by people without integrity.

When I go into a business—let’s say it’s a restaurant—and the wait staff happens to forget about me, I will gently remind them that I haven’t been waited on. For example, last weekend, my husband and I went to one of the most popular breakfast places around, and they were packed. We were seated in the corner and I ordered a cup of hot tea and he ordered a cappuccino. It took more than 10 minutes to receive our drinks, and in the meantime, they sat a lady in her mid-50s next to us. The host handed her a menu and walked away. We finally got our drinks, and then we were both surprised at how quickly our food came after that. We were happy.

However, while I was enjoying my yummy breakfast and sipping on my tea, I looked over and noticed the lady next to me trying hard to get the attention of the wait staff. I realized that this poor lady hadn’t even been asked for her order yet! I couldn’t take it anymore; I got up and flagged down the server and told her that the lady next to me had been there for more than 10 minutes and no one had waited on her. The server felt bad that no one was taking care of this customer, and when I got back to my table, the customer thanked me for helping her. (I have a new friend, too; we made small talk about how things happen and you have to speak up, and she joked that it was her fault for not speaking up.)

The point is, the staff thought they were on top of everything on this busy weekend morning, and they certainly didn’t ignore this sweet lady on purpose. She was also confident that she would get the level of service and quality of product that she deserved. But no one jumped right on the Internet and bashed the restaurant for having bad service. Everyone involved took responsibility for their own actions (or lack thereof).

When I go into a place of business, I want (and get) quality customer service because I’m nice and I treat the staff as humans and not as the hired help. They deserve respect from their customers. If you are not receiving the service you feel you deserve, ask yourself, did you talk down to them? Did you treat them like hired help?  Did you walk in with a chip on your shoulder? Yes, there are times when the staff is rude and it’s nothing you did or can do, I will give you that. But that’s when you should address your concerns with the owner or manager… not jump on the Internet the first chance you get.

And that brings me to why I’m writing about this topic. What is it about the Internet that makes us feel “brave” enough to trash, smash, and criticize a business for one small mistake that they would have been more than happy to rectify? What has happened to our community? We’ve lost our kindness and compassion if we are so quick to judge, especially if we are judging a business based on one isolated interaction. It must be exhausting pointing out everyone’s flaws and using the Internet for cyber-bullying. And I can’t believe that some people actually fall for this online bashing.

Let’s bring back the kindness and compassion in our community and support, inspire, and enhance each other. Let’s use the Internet for good things! Here’s another inspiring quote: “Do good and good things will happen.”

Business Community

Business Community 

Coffee and Connections has partnered with Longmont Area Economic Council to organize Free Business Workshops sponsored by the Longmont Public Library and the Friends of the Longmont Library. Our October 13th workshop, called “Navigating Small Business Resources in Longmont,” included representatives from local organizations that can answer questions about starting a business in Longmont, and each one of them had something valuable to share. Starting a business can be stressful, especially when you don’t know what resources are out there to help. But Longmont is a unique community, partnering up with services that can help you grow your business:

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Longmont Area Economic Council: Whether you are considering starting a business or you have an established, growing, business in Longmont, the Longmont Area Economic Council is the best place to start. Their mission is to lead a comprehensive, collaborative economic development strategy to promote and strengthen our community’s economic health.

 

Colorado Enterprise Fund: I have to admit, I’m pretty fond of this group’s tagline: “Creating big opportunities for small business.” Their mission is to “accelerate community prosperity by financing and supporting entrepreneurs and small business in Colorado.” They’ll answer questions like, “Do I need to charge a sales and use tax?” You’ll soon find out that it’s not as bad as getting a root canal! The Colorado Enterprise Fund is the first place you should go when getting started with a new business.

 

Longmont Downtown Development Authority: The LDDA was founded in 1982 to help develop a vital downtown area with a true community feel, and I think they’re accomplishing their goals. The LDDA is still working on a “walkable downtown” and offers incentives for businesses moving into the downtown area; these incentives are available to all property and business owners within LDDA’s boundaries.

 

Small Business Development Center: The SBDC provides a wide range of resources to help small businesses. They consult with potential business owners in the community about their goals and the roadblocks and industry challenges they might encounter along the way.

 

Longmont Chamber of Commerce: I loved what I heard from the new president of the Chamber; he used the word “community” when he discussed who the Chamber wants to partner with. He also shared what I thought was a mind-blowing stat—63% of people will purchase something from a Chamber member! I have been involved with the Chamber for many years, and I have attended hundreds of events, but I never really truly knew everything about them until this workshop. The Chamber’s mission is to be “a steward on behalf of businesses and to effect positive change influencing public policy and economic sustainability, helping to shape thecommunity you do business in to be its best.” Let us just digest that statement for a moment: “positive change,” “influencing,” and “helping to shape the community.” Amazing!

 

As I sat there listening to the representatives from all these organizations, I realized that they all had something in common besides helping small businesses—they all use the word “community” when discussing how they can help, and they all partner with each other to bring Longmont’s business community together.

 

Mark your calendars for November 10, the next workshop in the series. It’s called “Navigating the 21st-Century Office,” and it will feature important information about popular alternative office to full-time commercial office space. It’s in the Longmont Public Library Meeting Room from 6-8pm.

Don’t Sell what you do; Tell who you are

“Don’t sell what you do; tell who you are.”

This is something I was told at one of my first networking meetings, and it’s why I now ask a different question at every Coffee & Connections meeting. I encourage you to tell your story of who you are and why you do what you do. It’s so we can get to know each other, and find out if we trust and like each other—our hobbies, political views, religion, careers, and values are all different, and in Coffee and Connections we respect each other’s differences (although you may have noticed that we do not discuss politics or religion).

Some of the questions are business/networking related—like “What persuaded you to start your business?” “Who would make a good business marketing partner for you?” “What business tool are you in need of?” and “Who is your perfect client?”

But many questions are also simply fun to answer—such as “Where is your favorite vacation spot?” “What was your first job?” “What is your favorite color?” and “Do you have a hobby you really enjoy?”

Whether they’re personal or business-related, all the questions are important. Why? Because they all get you talking about the one subject you know the best—YOU!

I have grown to truly love and respect this group of ladies, and I admire the risk you all take by putting yourselves out there when you share a little of who you are at the meetings. If it weren’t for the questions, I wouldn’t have gotten to know all of you on a deeper level, and I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing business with you. I’m not saying you have to be besties with everyone; what I suggest is that we should at least hear each other’s story and see who they are, not just what they do. You may not be in need of the services of everyone who attends the meetings, but I’m sure you will come in contact with someone who may need their services or products. And doesn’t it feel great to refer each other and help each other succeed in business? It’s a little like paying it forward. (Actually, it’s a lot like that.)

At Coffee & Connections, we all love sharing who we are and what drives us, and we want each other to succeed. As you stand in front of the room telling us a little bit about yourself—whether it’s your very first visit or your hundredth—we’ll always do our best to support you, inspire you, and enhance your life.

Paying it forward

A few months ago, before a long, 45-mile drive back to Longmont, which can take up to an hour and a half depending on the time of day, I looked for something to eat. Because it was the only fast food on the road leading to the interstate, and in order to help prevent road rage (by a hungry me!), I pulled in to the Arby’s drive-though—although the line was longer than the women’s restroom at halftime of a major sporting event! (I’ve waited in those lines, too.)

Finally it was my turn, and a muffled voice came over intercom asking if they can take my order—not a friendly or mean voice, just a voice in the box with little emotion. I placed my order and slowly made my way to the window, not paying ​attention to the cars in front or behind me; I was probably busy paying attention to my phone.

I got to the window, and I was about to hand over my $10 bill for my $6.71 order, when the voice (now attached to a real person, not a box) came alive and started screaming—yes, screaming—that the car in front of me had bought my food! Seriously??? He screamed it excitedly, again and again! He had a smile on his face bigger than the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland! The car in front of me had already driven away, so there was no way for me to thank them, or even see who it was.

I decided to pay it forward a month ago when I was at the hospital in Mason City, Iowa, waiting with my niece for my mom to finish up her doctor visit. My niece and I went to the small little concession stand, and I heard the lady behind me commenting on the high price of the cinnamon rolls, but the child with her really wanted one. So I secretly bought her two cinnamon rolls and a bottle of water, telling the clerk not to mention it was me.

In this instance, unlike when you’re in a drive-through, I was able to observe the exchange as the clerk informed the customer that her purchase was paid for. We sat at a table a little ways away as the customer, an elderly lady, found out she was getting her cinnamon rolls for free. She was a little bit in shock, and didn’t really understand at first what happened, although she seemed grateful.

But what I was really enjoying was the clerk’s reaction—she was thrilled, and she couldn’t stop smiling (Cheshire Cat again!) that she was able to be the bearer of joy and good news. The clerk kept telling the customer in an excited voice that someone cares and wanted to do something nice, and it’s a pay-it-forward moment for her. The clerk definitely seemed more excited about it than the customer.

As we headed back upstairs to pick up my mom, my niece asked me why I did that, and she said that she had never met anyone as nice as me. Wait, really? That’s sad to hear. An 11-year-old who had never known someone willing to give? That breaks my heart!

Last Friday at Coffee and Connections, I asked the group about paying it forward—when was the last time they paid it forward or witnessed a kind act from someone else?

The responses were all amazing and heartwarming, but one notion stood out—the idea of what I call “invisible giving.” Not specific acts of kindness, but all-time-time kindness. She’s the one who holds the door open, helps pick up things when they’re dropped in front of her, and smiles at you when it seems as though you could use a friendly face.

The act of paying it forward affects more than just the person giving and the one receiving—it also includes the person who has the privilege of delivering the good news, and those who get to witness the act of kindness, like my niece. And I truly hope she witnesses many more random acts of kindness in her life.

How do we pay it forward at Coffee and Connections? By supporting our local non-profits! All of our events, meetings, and groups go towards supporting the non-profits in the Longmont area. You can help by liking our Facebook page, and sharing our events with your loved ones <3

Warmly,

Rose

Navigating Around Icebergs

Earlier this week, I was fortunate to be the host of a new workshop series called “Navigating to Small Business Success.” The series features FREE monthly workshops at the Longmont Public Library meant to help Longmont entrepreneurs who either dream of owning their own small business and need a little push to get started, or who already have a small business and need assistance overcoming the obstacles they sometimes encounter along the way.

The first panel discussion, called “Navigating Around Icebergs: Local Longmont Success Stories,” featured a variety of successful small-business owners who were willing to share their expertise—some of it learned the hard way. Here is just a sampling of the valuable advice they shared with the more than 30 people in attendance:

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Build your brand around your community. Really get to know your audience to be certain sure your small business will have a welcoming home. Do some research to make sure the market isn’t already saturated with your business category, then go for it, always staying true to your own brand and your vision.

Talk to your competition. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice from people who’ve been there, even if they’re in the same industry. Chances are, they’re open to hearing your ideas as well.

Learn from your mistakes. Don’t ignore the “iceberg” in front of you; learn how to navigate around it, and remember those navigation skills in case it happens again. If something unfortunate happens along the way, make sure something good also comes out of it.

Be business-savvy. Formulate a plan and stick to it, and put everything in writing. Understand your limitations, and don’t push too hard too soon. Remember, you can’t help people if you aren’t making money, so stay on course with your business plan.

Don’t ignore the small details. Really get to know the people who will help guide you along the way, like the folks in the city planning and tax departments. The small legal details aren’t the most fun part, but they’re crucial to business success.

Use all the navigation tools you can. The Chamber of Commerce, Visit Longmont, the Longmont Downtown Development Authority, the Small Business Development Center, networking groups like Coffee & Connections—these groups and organizations, and many others like them, ARE THERE TO HELP. Accept their wise assistance and use their valuable resources—that’s what they’re there for!

This workshop series happens every second Tuesday through May! Hope to see you at the next one on October 13; it’s called “Navigating Small Business Resources in Longmont.” (6-8pm at the Longmont Public Library.)