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Facebook for BusinessGreat Resources for Small Businesses in North Carolina:  Small Business Centers

Are you considering starting a business?

Are you a small business owner that would like more business?

Do you have a business running but find it hard to find and afford resources to really build your business?

If you answered yes to either question, take a moment and imagine the existence of a remarkable resource center, right in your local area, one that offers you free or very affordable high-quality support. You can go there for help with creating your business; building your business or selling your business. No business it too small or too large to gain access to the resources offered.  Instead of having to locate and pay for high-quality training for yourself and employees, this center makes it easy to attend ongoing training tailored to your business needs. And, to your delight, the center is staffed with highly- trained consultants who are well-networked with community resources all over the state.

If you haven’t already discovered it, this “imaginary” resource center exists in North Carolina, and there are 58 of them from mountains to coast.  They are called Small Business Centers (SBC), part of the Community College System and supported by your tax dollars—truly an investment in the economic development of businesses in the state.  They are “right in our backyard” and all you have to do is show up and take advantage of them!

I have been training in Small Business Centers since 2006 and have been moved and inspired by the wonderful people who have attended my classes. One man who invented a unique machine for bailing pine straw was using his website to successfully sell the several thousand dollar device across the country.  Another man, who had lost his job, was building a business helping children’s book authors speak in high schools, as well as making their books available to schools online. A director of a center doing wonderful work with children with disabilities found a way to sell donated items on eBay that allows the non-profit center to expand its services .And in one rural area I had the privilege of teaching conflict management skills to a room full of managers who oversee large farms; discussing real world problems and finding real world solutions. It’s wonderful to see the greatness of our communities at work.

Through teaching at various Community College locations, I have gotten to know the talented SBC Directors who bring an abundance of personal experience and networked resources to everything they do.  They not only have connections in your community to help you, but also have access to all 58 SBC networks. They have connections with the local Chamber of Commerce and many other contacts they draw on to help you with your business success.

At every SBC I have been to, they have a rich resource center with books, CD’s, government resource publications and often computers loaded with software that you can use for your business. These centers are free for your use and provide tools for planning, research, cash flow projections and budget analysis.

One director told me how he has had the opportunity of helping an individual create a machinist business, aid in staff development as the employees grew, and is now assisting them with landing a major aerospace contract. Another director mentioned how someone came to her to start a greenhouse. She did not have a local resource to help so she used her statewide resources and found a greenhouse business in another area that was successful and able to help this new business. A local bed-and- breakfast got networked through the Small Business Center to work with other bed-and-breakfasts in other areas of the state to help each other.

I want to list a few of the great resources just waiting for you to take advantage of them:

  • Confidential one-on-one and group business counseling. Including advisory councils to help businesses learn from other businesses.
  • Free or low-cost seminars to help start new businesses to get going in the right direction.
  • Resources to help existing businesses with personal issues, hiring, motivation, product development, pricing, competitive analysis, market – product and customer retention.
  • A massive network of contacts and information to address just about any questions a business has, as well as helping the business know the right questions to ask.
  • Assistance from SBC Directors in finding financing resources for your business with their contacts in the community and around the state.

If you want to keep a competitive advantage, you can’t afford not to use the Small Business Center in your area.  If you gain value from these resources, be sure to tell a friend.  The win-win goal we can all help achieve is to increase the community usage of the SBC classes and resources.  It is vital for the Centers to operate at full capability to help keep the funding strong and our communities vibrant. Find out what your SBC has to offer, get involved and let them know how they can help you.  If you have not been to a Small Business Center in NC, or not been in a while, you can find the one in your area at:  www.sbcn.nc.gov

Do you have a story of being helped by a Small Business Center?  Let us know for a future article.

Looking forward to hearing your stories of success!
Martin Brossman
Senior Instructor at NCSmallBusinessTraining.com 

martin@coachingsupport.com
(919) 847-4757
See all my training and coaching at: ProNetworkingOnLine.com and CoachingSupport.com
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Benefit for Directors of Small Business Centers and Students to be on Linkedin

October 20th, 2009 | Posted by martinbrossman in Linkedin | Small Business Center Directors - (Comments Off on Benefit for Directors of Small Business Centers and Students to be on Linkedin)

10 reason’s Directors of Small Business Center Directors and Students would benefit by being on Linkedin. – Martin Brossman

LinkedIn is a free resource that lets you build and maintain a global and local network. It is a powerful tool in a world where higher transparency is required for trust. It basically is a tool for solving business task. For the Directors of the Small Business Centers it directly increases the schools web presence while giving an easy way to share information with individuals in small and large industry. For Students and small business owners it has the same value and lets them learn from other professionals in business around the world. LinkedIn allows you to keep in touch with not only what people are doing but who they are connecting with. It is a social medium that is professional and businesslike. If you have not spent time with it and you care about your career and your clients’ trust, it’s time to start allotting some hours to it. Different from Facebook it is all business!

Here are just a few reasons to invest time in LinkedIn.com:

1. More than 50 Million people you can search.
LinkedIn lets you research 50+ million professional people with almost 100% accuracy and gives YOU permission to know the information posted on the profile. For example, if you met someone for the first time and mentioned you saw in their LinkedIn profile that they went to the same school you went to, that would build rapport. If you gained this information from a private paid database, that might make them feel uncomfortable.

2. Free quality consulting advice.
Use the Answers area of LinkedIn to obtain valuable free information as you need it—it’s often comparable to thousands of dollars of consulting advice. One way people are motivated to give you quality answers is because they have a chance of you voting their answer to you as the most useful answer increasing their status as an expert.

3. Establishing yourself as an expert.
Receiving authentic recommendations from past or present associates and co-workers which appear in your LinkedIn profile can help position you as an expert. Of course recommendations have to be earned by quality work, generally building over time to enrich your LinkedIn presence, and are often inspired by your giving sincere recommendation to others. At the same time, answering questions offers you a further opportunity to be seen as an expert by responding to questions posed in your field. When your answer reveals your expertise, you have the possibility of being voted “expert answer.”

4. Enhancing your brand and presence on the web.
LinkedIn is a site that builds more credibility than your own website. It is well-indexed by Google. When people see a recommendation given to you on LinkedIn, they can choose to see the full profile of the person that gave the recommendation, giving it more credibility.

5. Direct introductions to a large number of quality people.
Through LinkedIn you can be directly introduced to and have access to people who may not take your call directly. By properly using LinkedIn’s direct introduction system, you can get introduced to people that you are connected to as well as people that your contacts are connected to. You can also learn who your contacts are connected to, and how they are connected. Important note: When you make the reach to contact them, always have a reason in their best interest.

6. Allowing people to prescreen YOU to build faster trust.
With higher demands for greater transparency, LinkedIn offers a credible way for your customers to prescreen you by seeing recommendations without having to bother people. This also applies for people looking for a job. People can see recommendations to you without your having to repeatedly bother your references to pre-screen you.

7. Professional groups that let you connect with a common interest.
Connect with people that share a common interest by joining a group and participating in group discussions on the group’s discussion board. There is a group for everyone, such as local networking groups like Linking Raleigh, NC, school and corporate alumni groups, or groups related to an industry or profession.

8. Providing valuable changing resources to attract multiple visits to your information.
Use the LinkedIn applications to do things like display your WordPress or TypePad blog in your profile so that visitors can learn more about you. Add the Amazon book app so you can share with others what you are reading and recommend they read. Promote your events or find an event through the events app. Make a presentation by uploading a PowerPoint slide show about your business or even yourself.

9. The ability to recognize good people that the world can see.
LinkedIn lets you give recommendations to people throughout your entire life, and that can be a better use of your time then the usual mode of interrupting people to ask for a job or a sale. LinkedIn not only allows you to build trust and credibility with local people but people all over the world. Since you can search in your vicinity or anywhere, you can have local contacts and global ones very easily. By providing deeper information, LinkedIn can enhance existing relationships and deepen new ones. Spending some of your time appreciating good people in your life is the avenue to fostering friends and associates who care about YOU.

10. Keeping track of your direct and indirect network.
Use LinkedIn as an easy way to keep track of your contacts, their contacts, and changes in status. For example, if someone you know got promoted or received an award, this could by a way to acknowledge them for their accomplishment. You may find that a good friend wanting to help you just connected with an important person you want to meet.

Like anything in life, you do have to spend some time with LinkedIn to gain value from it. The time you spend building your profile will reap its return when you put yourself out there to expand your professional network and build your reputation through this rapidly expanding social media tool. Simply by sending and receiving recommendations, using apps, answering and asking questions, and helping others along the way, you can be remembered and made memorable by using LinkedIn. Take full advantage of what LinkedIn has provided for free and bring yourself to the forefront of a crowded room.

To learn more about SBCSpeakers and see all the training for Small Business Centers of Community Colleges and Chambers of Commerce: http://ncsmallbusines.wpengine.com
or all of the Success Coaching, Training and Consultant with Martin Brossman at: http://www.ProNetworkingOnLine.com

About the contributors of this article Martin & Greg:

-Hello, I am Martin Brossman. As a success coach, I believe almost everyone should be on LinkedIn since it has given so much value to myself and to my coaching clients when they spend the right amount of time with it. If you Google my name in quotes, you will see the second item listed is my LinkedIn profile–all possible with the free LinkedIn service. I currently use their paid service, but that evolved after I gained value from the basic free service. (Our post above refers to all that is possible with the free service.) I have been offering group LinkedIn training in the Triangle since 2006, and in response to requests, I now offer customized LinkedIn training for individuals and small groups. My LinkedIn profile: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/martinbrossman

-Hello I am Greg Hyer. As a local networking advocate, I feel strongly that LinkedIn is the ideal tool and service to use to enhance your professional brand and manage your professional relationships. The benefits to using LinkedIn are significant, yet it does not require that you devote that much time to it. As a founder of a LinkedIn Group and corresponding website, LinkingRaleighNC.com, I help local professionals build a quality network and provide some resources to improve their chances of finding the connection for the next opportunity. My LinkedIn profile: http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/greghyer