This is the 2nd year that along with a few collagues from Network Solutions attended the Small Business Technology Summit at the Crowne Plaza Manhattan Times Square- New York City on Feb 11th. One of the reasons I was back was the sheer energy of the Ramon Ray in organizing the summit along with Marian Banker. The people I met at the Summit were small business owners, marketers , business and efficiency coaches, product companies. ( Network Solutions - the company I work for was also a sponsor)
Last year I recollect the oft repeated themes from the various speakers and panels was "web sites ", "Search engine optimization" . This year "backup" was the buzz word and by the end of the summit I am sure all small business owners present went home and eagerly googled for a solution if they were not persuaded to try Jennifer Waltzer's company Back Up My Info . Backupmyinfo offers a completely automated online data backup and recovery service for your computer systems.
The CRM theme was repeated throughout the day and Ramon Ray actually said in his talk on "Technology is Not the Answer"- that "Email is not CRM". He is very good at explaining technology in very simple terms which is a great skill to have. The CRM guys at the conference were Brent Leary, CRM Essentials ( see picture on the left) and Ridgley Evers, NetBooks. Brent Leary also co-hosts a radio show in Atlanta - businesstechnologyradio.com . I am looking forward to connecting back with him and be a guest on his show some time.
The term "Social Media" was bandied about several times. The advice for Small Business was to use the tools that Social Media provides to enhance their marketing efforts. It started with the keynote "Marketing in a Digital World: How Technology and New Media are Changing the Game" By Karen Quintos Vice President of Marketing for Small & Medium Business - Dell Inc. Taking of social media and Dell here is a great story of Dell and the Social Media from Michael Dell himself. From Karen's speech I share the opinion of Pamela O' Hara of BatchBlue about the quote "fix the issue, tell the customer you fixed it and make sure the customer feels the fix.” Pamela has a great post on the BatchBlue Blog summarizing the Small Business Technology Conference.
Troy Wing has a good post on points from Karen's keynote on his blog “Word of Mouse” will drive adoption of SaaS and defines 'Word of Mouse"= "how more people under age 35 are making purchasing decisions based upon blogs, social networking, Internet searching and forums than any other means."
It was a great pleasure to meet Anita CampBell whose web site ( Should I call it a blog?) http://www.smallbiztrends.com/ is a great resource for SMBs and I have been a avid reader for 2 yrs. She is a fantastic person to talk to . I mentioned my new role as the Social Media Bee ( I am going to call myself the Social Media Swami :)) at Network Solutions and she was happy that the network Solutions had taken a great step to engage in the Social Media.
I also met Lauren Simonds the Managing Editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com once again. She writes articles on Small business technology for SmallBusinessComputing.com - a JupiterWeb property and also a must read resource for small business owners.
The panel presentation "How to Transform Your Business in 40 Minutes"- 4 Experts, 4 Topics, 40 Tips in 40 Minutes featured
- How to Pitch Your Business in 15 Seconds - Laura Allen
- How to Prepare and Give a Winning Presentation - Marshall Makstein
- How to Tame Your Technology - Jennifer Shaheen
- How I Use Tech to Boost Sales - Adrian Miller
The picture on the left is from Adrian Miller's presentation. She very categorically stated that typing on a Mobile device like a blackberry is not an excuse for bad grammar or typos. ( I wonder if she can tell Twitter users that) I am going to straighten up my act and make sure I make less mistakes even if I am not on a mobile device :).
The other tip for small business was that to make sales leads and if you are going to leave a voice mail to do it at night after 10 p.m. That way the person receiving the call will hear it the first thing in the morning and will have the time to act on it. Great advice !
Marshal Makstein gave us the 10 meeting commandments on the slide below. One of the attendees Nelly Yusupova has a post that summarizes this panel 40 tips to transform your business. I think Nelly who is the CTO at Webgrrls International, and Cybergrrl, Inc was a panelist for the Small Business Technology Summit in 2007.
Laura Allen advice was to forget the "Kitchen sink" pitch. I think that applies to me as I consider myself a multi-talented guy and so her next advice is to "pitch to the niche" - customize your pitch.
Jennifer Shaheen gave some good advice( see slide below) on how to plan for introducing new technologies to the small business office. Plan for time to train, plan during the slow season, try to get a expert to give some tips . She used the example of moving from office 2003 to Office 2007 where some of the Word tasks have different access methods.
Laurel Touby sold her company mediabistro to Jupiter Media Corp and at the Small Business Technology Conference she shared her experience specially the challenging times when things were bad. She used her home equity and also persuaded her employees to take a pay cut so that there were no layoffs. Very brave lady and I am glad she succeeded. Almost all the panelists said that speaking to the customers was the most important.
Just like last year Ramon and Marian realizing that there were so many activities scheduled a lunch time keynote by Barry Moltz author of You Need to Be A Little Crazy: The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business and Bounce! Failure, Resiliency and the Confidence to Achieve Your Next Great Success. I will write a separate post on this. The other speaker during lunch was Maitland Muse from Verizon Wireless . His presentation focused on how small business should take their office with them and have the ability to communicate from anywhere. Verizon seems big on wireless solutions for small business.
Post lunch Ramon Ray spoke for a quick 15 minutes on "Technology is Not the Answer" . I was thrilled when he pointed at me in the audience and asked me about the Mobile website builder from Network Solutions. His article in the New York Times - Six Rules for Business Technology Success -has the details of this session.
As I said earlier Network Solutions was one of the sponsors and our New York Sales team was there to answer questions and give advice to the Conference participants. I was the smoozer and we had Harry Brooks my friend and colleague come in to give a 15 minute talk on " Search Engine Marketing Tips for Small Business". I captured the video but I am having a tough time uploading it.
Harry provided some good advice and I will let the video speak for itself when I upload it. Harry conducts Search Engine Marketing seminars for Small Business.
The last panel of the day was "What You Need Now to Succeed " and
Moderated by Marian Banker ( pictured on the right with Harry Brooks) and introduced by Brent Leary, CRM Essentials
Brain Exchange Roundtable members:
- Ridgely Evers, NetBooks
- Michael Findling, Salem Global
- Jason Boltax, JHB Human Capital Management
- Martha Soffer, U.S. Small Business Administration
I took the Acela back to Washington DC and enjoyed the ride back. Amtrak is the way I am going to travel to New York unless I take the van and drive.
Blogs that have reported the Small Business Technology Conference - Crowne Plaza Times Square - Feb 11th 2008
Insight by Design - Paul Soldera
BatchBlue - Pamela O'Hara
J-TWO-O by Jen
From the desk of next STEPH - Stephanie M. Cocker
Diversity Blogs - Troy Wing
WebGrrls Blog - Nelly Yusupova
How do you bounce - Barry Moltz
Network Solutions - Harry Brooks
Internet Website Marketing and Small Business Summit by Michael Findling
What is your Google Quotient - Shelly Banjo
Six Rules for Business Technology Success - Ramon Ray
Small Business Summit Rocked - Anita Campbell