Edison Resident, Jessica Leigh Levin, Recognized on Leading Women Entrepreneurs’ List of Top 25 Brand Builders

Seven Degrees Communications’ President Named A Leading Brand Builder in N.J.

WOODBRIDGE, N.J., September 22, 2017— Seven Degrees Communications’ President and Chief Connector, Jessica Leigh Levin, MBA, CMP, CAE, DES, is one of the 25 hard-working women recognized on Leading Women Entrepreneurs’ (LWE) prestigious Brand Builder list.  Levin received recognition at today’s Leading Women Entrepreneurs Brand Builder luncheon at the Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club in Bedminster Township.  

All women recognized on this admirable list are breaking barriers in the field of public relations, advertising and marketing.  Each are responsible for developing, designing and achieving success with some of the most successful brands thriving in today’s business world.  

“Jessica is a true brand builder and it was a pleasure working with her on the strategic planning of my financial consulting business. If it weren’t for Jessica, Podium Strategies would have been named HK Strategies and she insisted on something punchier,” says Podium Strategies CEO, Howard Konicov.

Linda Wellbrock, Founder of the Leading Women Entrepreneurs, says, “The honorees are amazing role models for women in entrepreneurship and business everywhere.  Their tremendous accomplishments are representative of the increasing impact women are making in the world of business.”

“It is a true honor to be named on this esteemed list alongside so many talented NJ-based Marketing and Public Relation experts, including Joan McGeough of The DAK Group and Meg Fry of NJBiz,” says Levin.

The full list and biography of the 25 honorees can be found in the original Leading Women Entrepreneurs press release.    

Leading Women Entrepreneurs also recognized 25 professionals on the Top 25 Women Entrepreneurs list and the Top 25 Intrapreneurs list.

Leading Women Entrepreneurs was founded to acknowledge female, business owners who exhibit outstanding performance in market potential, innovation, community involvement and advocacy for women. Learn more about their mission here.  

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About Seven Degrees Communications: Seven Degrees Communications is a strategic marketing consulting company that leverages relationship building to help B2B and B2C small-to-medium sized businesses obtain measurable results.  The boutique-style agency, which celebrated their eight-year anniversary in May, serves small and medium-sized businesses including professional service firms, associations, meetings and event industry suppliers. To learn more, visit www.sevendegreescommunications.com.

Looking for Marketing Strategy?

The summer is coming to an end and it’s a great time to think about boosting your business. I have been spending time on my own business and getting help from”professionals” so I can get out of my own way. It happens.  As entrepreneurs, we can get stuck and feedback from someone who is not emotionally invested in our companies can make a huge difference in how successful we are.  With that in mind, I wanted to come up with a quick and easy way for organizations to get focused on their marketing plans and ready to tackle the end of 2017.

Introducing our Sizzlin’ Summer Strategy Package

Business owners and association executives are often too close to their organization and get stuck on a challenge. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can jump start new initiatives and bring immediate results. Whether it’s refining your brand message, leveraging existing client relationships or simply a stubborn problem that you’ve been trying to tackle, a guided discussion might be all you need to get you moving in the right direction.

Of course, finding an experienced and objective partner who can identify opportunities can be difficult and is often a significant investment.

As a senior leader, we know that finding time to work on your business is not always easy and we understand that every dollar counts.

Good news.  We have the answer.

Are You Ready to Jump Start Your Year-End with a Marketing Strategy?

Designed to prepare you for a strong 4th quarter, our Sizzlin’ special includes:

  • Homework to help you prepare for an effective session.
  • An open discussion for up to 8 team members.
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We believe in our sizzlin’ approach to marketing and business growth, but don’t take our word for it!  See what others have to say about their experience in working with us.  

Are you interested in signing up for our Sizzlin’ Summer Package?  

Offer valid through September 21, 2017.  

Price only applies to clients within a 2-hour drive of Woodbridge, NJ.

Strong Relationships Are Your Best Business Development Tool

In the business world, your relationships are one of the most important assets for you to cultivate. How you engage with potential clients is fundamental to your ability to develop fruitful interactions with them. But these interactions can also be a tremendous source of information that can help you improve the overall quality of your business offerings.

Your marketing efforts originate in the nexus between clear brand messaging and the building of these business relationships. Some might even say that your relationships ARE your brand. At the very least, understanding the interplay between the two is key to the success of any business. Let’s have a look at how these two things support and inform one another.

Here’s a familiar scenario: You meet someone at a networking event, strike up a conversation and develop the beginnings of a congenial relationship. In talking, you realize that there’s a potential for doing business with one another, and you agree to send your new acquaintance some more information about your products and services. It’s important to be able to support a business relationship with good documentation, so what you provide in your follow-up is going to be key.

After the Networking, Wow Them With Something Original

When in the initial stages of forming a good business relationship, it’s important that whatever documentation you send be quality, original material. You want to make sure that it represents you well, in a way that demonstrates your uniqueness in the marketplace. To really make a strong statement, instead of or in addition to a brochure, you can send a short, 30-second video. Depending on your product, perhaps you include a small sample.

There are other materials you may also want to prepare, such as documentation of your success rate. Depending on the nature of your business, this may come in the form of statistical information, testimonials, or a combination of both. Again, whether you quantify your success in terms of qualitative analysis or through anecdotal evidence, the important thing is that it has the impact of inspiring confidence in your ability to deliver.

In terms of statistical information, you may find that there is a difference as to the kind of numbers that you deem important and the numbers that a potential client is seeking. We all quantify success in different terms, based on the kind of work we are doing and the specific focus of our brand. If you are a B2C based company, your success may be counted in thousands, but if you are a B2B company, five leads may be considered a great outcome, potentially worth millions of dollars. Again, being able to quantify results is equally important as being able to share quality anecdotal and qualitative analysis.

Your Client Interactions Can Teach You So Much

Feedback from potential clients in this regard is going to be very important to you in a few ways. The first is, of course, related to whether or not you will be a good fit for working together. If you are speaking in the same terms about how you evaluate your ability to deliver what they need, and the client is impressed with your results, then you are off and running. If for some reason they are not satisfied with your track record, then perhaps they need you to offer a different type of documentation. If, however, you give them everything you’ve got and it’s still not enough, then they are looking for someone else. It’s important to recognize that not every potential client is a good fit. Better to know this up front and move on than to make the mistake of trying to force a square peg into a round hole. The results will not be good for either of you.

Understanding and accepting that a client is not a good fit for you is only one part of what you should take away from an experience like this. The other half goes back to using the feedback you get from potential clients to help you improve your overall offerings as well as the way you present them.

If you are consistently being asked to provide certain pieces of data that you don’t presently offer, then it may be time to update your data collection processes with regard to your existing clients. The key thing here is that any changes you make be in support of your overall branding goals, and not just an attempt to please others in a way that makes you lose your center. In this same vein, you may, in fact, discover from these types of interactions that there is a market for a new service or product that you could begin to offer as a very natural part of a logical business expansion.

You May Learn Even More Than You Expect!

Another thing you may discover is that you are looking for the wrong types of clients. If you are consistently being turned down by prospective clients, then perhaps it’s time for you to revisit the client personas you have developed. The success of your marketing and sales efforts is grounded on a firm understanding of who you are talking to when trying to pitch your business. This, in turn, informs your branding choices and all of your networking activity. Knowing you are talking to the right people is the first step in developing a strong client base, so take some time to revisit this evaluative, investigative process.

As in any good relationship, communication with clients should be dynamic and open. Always be ready to learn and adapt to things you are hearing, whether your conversation is with an existing client or a new prospect. If you are truly interested in creating a successful business, then it’s important to be responsive to new information, and be willing to learn and implement changes as necessary. Relationship building is an art, not a science, and this very personalized process may be one of your best and most reliable tools for professional development.

A Meeting Planner’s Role in Connecting: How to Facilitate Relationship Building Among Attendees

When it comes to pulling off a successful event, planners know that the real payoff comes after the event is over. Sure, we all want to make sure that the presentations roll out on schedule, without any technical glitches, and that the food and drinks are plentiful and satisfying. But the thing that makes any event truly memorable is the relationships that are established between attendees – especially ones that continue past the event itself and develop into ongoing business partnerships, creative collaborations, strong teams and friendships.

So what is the meeting planner’s role in making this happen? Well, to start, there is the obvious role of playing host at the cocktail party. Making introductions and facilitating dialogue are basic duties of any event host. With a little forethought, it’s pretty easy to figure out which guests would benefit from meeting each other. Playing matchmaker like this can be a lot of fun, and it’s also a great way to pay it forward by setting good things in motion.

But there are also some less obvious ways that you can elevate the educational portion of your event to the relationship building level. To me, this is the most interesting part, as it’s really rooted in the content of your event.

Here are a few simple things you can do to help attendees network better.

Relationship Building and Continuing Education Credits

Take, for example, educational events that people attend in order to earn Continuing Education (CE) credits. For many, this can feel like a boring requirement for their job, not necessarily an opportunity to enliven their day with new forms of social engagement. If you, as a planner, make your educational sessions more interactive and engaging, then you succeed on a number of levels. First of all, you will improve people’s retention of the information they receive. But you can also improve the quality of relationships people create as they are learning. Plus, everyone will have more fun in the process.

One way to do this is through roundtable discussion. If you build roundtables into your educational component, you give attendees an opportunity to share their perspective, expertise and experience with one another. This is an excellent way of helping people gain useful information from the field, wisdom that may not necessarily be available through official educational materials. We all know that on-the-job training and real life experience are both invaluable. Exchanging hard-earned lessons with colleagues can not only be an incredible learning opportunity, but a chance to bond and commiserate.

To deepen this experience even further, you can structure the discussion so that everyone has a chance to talk. With a good moderator, you can blend talking points with questions that are designed to draw out people’s experience and unique perspective, in order to fully explore and develop your discussion and make sure everyone feels included.

Making Follow-up Easy

There are practical things you can do, such as pre-arranging tables with contact information for everyone at the table. Providing pre-printed information on a piece of paper that already includes space for writing notes will facilitate follow-up. How often do we attend events and collect business cards and contact information and then never do anything with it? Anything we as planners can do to facilitate the follow-up process is welcome assistance.

Another idea is to provide a checklist for all of your attendees with things they can do to get the most out of the event. This can include suggestions about following up with the people they have met. You can also offer some incentive in this regard by featuring them in a newsletter or email. Perhaps you (or a writer on your team) interview all the people at the table, and then create a story that is subsequently written up and distributed to everyone. This can help tie the group together by re-stimulating their interest in one another, extending the education that happened at that table and reinforcing the connections that were made at the event.

Different Approaches for Different Goals

There are multiple variations of this approach for different learning environments. Internal company events are usually more about team building, and will take on a particular shape, depending on the overall goal. Perhaps you are facilitating a project-based discussion, where people work together to solve a problem. This may take the form of a mini-hackathon that results in the creation of a best practices document. Depending on the group, you may solicit answers to questions beforehand, coordinating through department heads. The discussion can serve as the beginning of an interactive process that sets in motion follow-up calls, meetings or facilitated chats. The event becomes a way to start an ongoing conversation, where you are shooting for a certain level of engagement. Depending on the group, you may or may not be called upon to provide some measure of follow-up.

In a company with a strong, cohesive culture, organize an activity that offers rewards for enhanced participation, such as an assignment or a contest. This type of exercise can further strengthen the culture or even support the development of a specific campaign or other set of goals. A highly targeted activity like this requires close integration with the organization’s leadership and a motivated group of participants.

Industry events, on the other hand, are less about team building than they are about networking. Content may be more generic and open ended, with a focus on exploration and discovery as opposed to some specific goal. Again, your efforts will be in overall service to your client’s goals, which will largely define the level and quality of interaction between attendees you are called upon to facilitate.

Gamification

Gamification may be an element you choose to bring in. However, it’s important to remember that any game you organize must support the larger goals of your event, otherwise it could become a distraction. Two other important things to keep in mind here are whether or not the game serves to help build relationships, and whether you have full buy-in on the part of participants. People have to be interested and engaged in whatever activity you bring to the table, in order to get the most out of the interaction.

Now that we’ve looked at using the educational component of your event as a tool for networking and relationship building, we can revisit the ways that you can improve the quality of networking in a more social setting – that is, how to be a better matchmaker! But that’s a whole other topic… stay tuned!

Looking for help building networking into your meetings or events? Let us know how we can help.

 

Jessica Levin Honored as Finalist for PCMA Visionary Awards, Community Advocate of the Year

Photo Credit: EAPhoto

On May 3, 2017,  Seven Degrees Communications President, Jessica Levin, was honored as a finalist for Community Advocate of the Year at the PCMA Foundation’s Visionary Awards. This award honors one PCMA member in the business events industry who has developed and managed a unique and impactful program benefiting the community in which their meeting was held.

More than 1,000 leaders in the business events were in attendance at the premier industry recognition event that took place at the Marriott Marquis in Washington D.C.

“I was thrilled to be a finalist and represent the New York chapter of the Professional Convention Management Association for our work in the community.   Over the last several years we have dedicated resources to support The Bowery Mission and Operation BBQ Relief. It feels great to be recognized for our work and hopefully we inspire others to give back.”

“Our 2017 honorees and award winners’ accomplishments serve as inspiration to both industry veterans and novices alike,” said PCMA President & CEO, Deborah Sexton. “Each an expert in their profession—always endeavoring to lead the advancement of their organizations and the business events industry.”

Other finalists included Adam Anderson of Informa Exhibitions and Peter C. O’Brien, CASE, Global Account Executive with Marriott Global Sales Organization, who took home the Community Advocate of the Year award.

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