September 2015: Commerce Corner

Make a successful seasonal transition

Columnist Brooke James

Columnist Brooke Rouse

Fall brings beautiful colors, holiday preparations and harvest season. It also brings shorter, cooler days that signal it is time to prepare for hibernation. In the north country, we know that hibernation, given our long winters, is not a productive option. Business trends and cycles, as well as time and weather-dependent projects, may help direct fall planning for a successful seasonal transition. Being aware and strategic now may lead to your most successful year yet, whether you are a new entrepreneur or a veteran business owner. [Read more…]

August 2015: Commerce Corner

Advance your networking skills

Columnist Brooke James

Columnist Brooke James

In business and in leadership it is so important to develop professional relationships, whether it is with colleagues or customers. One aspect of developing a personal connection is by remembering and recalling a person’s name. How many times have you said or thought, “Wow, he remembered my name,” and been impressed. How many times have you approached someone thinking, “I know this person. Why do I know this person? What is their name?!” And then you are on the spot and must reintroduce, or avoid names all together.

People feel special when you know their name, and if you are trying to develop yourself as a leader and as a company that provides excellent customer service, take note of the following tips.

Name associations

At the time you are introduced to a new person try to pay close attention to their name, not just their face. As soon as possible, try to identify a word using the same letter or sound as their name that will help you remember that person. It may be an identifying word, such as blue-eyed Bill or crazy hat Kathy, or something random that connects to their personality, like fishing Frank. You can add any descriptive word to the name, such as Michigan Sally or Toyota Robin, or think of someone you already know well with the same name: “Cynthia, like my neighbor.” Try to play with these tricks to see what works for you. When you leave the person, try to repeat that name in your head and picture their face.

Write it down

If someone gives you his or her card, find the first opportunity to write the name of where you met them, and topics of conversation or associations that you made with them. For example, “NNY Business 20 Under 40 Luncheon, Watertown” and the date. And then “daughter at Cornell,” “loves to can peaches,” and “follow up on 2015 visitor statistics.” Any little details that will help to remind you of the individual person. This will also help you to remember the person when you look back through your cards and follow up with a personal greeting: “It was great to meet you at the marketing meeting last spring. I hope your daughter is enjoying her senior year at Cornell.” This will make you appear to have a great memory and will actually be helping to build your memory of the person. If you have a customer service management program or a contact book or online database, type in the business card when you return to the office and send a follow-up email, especially if it is a good lead. Immediate connection will help in the long run.

Research and be ready

Before you attend a meeting or a conference, look over the invite list if available. Do some research on the people attending through company websites or social networks like LinkedIn. If you can find out more about them or find a profile photo and have face recognition in advance, you are more likely to remember their name and can focus on meaningful conversation when you meet in person.

The awkward reintroduction

Everyone has the experience of not remembering a name when faced with an already-introduced person. If you know you are bad with names and have not yet perfected the above tips, here are a few ways to turn the situation around.

Bring a “wingman”; in this instance, think of this friend or colleague as the “social butterfly,” “networking” kind of wingman. Prep your partner ahead of time by admitting your weakness and ask that they be forthcoming with their handshake and name when you introduce them to people. This is your chance to hear the name when they respond. When you depart that conversation, be sure to use the person’s name — “Great seeing you again John” — and then practice the above tips to solidify it in your brain for the future.

Alternatively, if you are flying solo, just be brave and reintroduce yourself: “Hi, I’m Brooke from the chamber. We met at a previous meeting. What is your name again?” By reintroducing yourself, they are thankful and will kindly appreciate your reminder.

If you know names are a weakness, the best way to improve your skills is to put yourself in as many practice situations as possible. Networking is really important in today’s world, where word of mouth and personal connections go a long way. One great place to practice is through business associations such as chambers of commerce where networking events are hosted frequently.

Brooke Rouse is executive director of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Promotion Agent. She is a business owner, holds a master’s degree in tourism and is a former SUNY Canton Small Business Development Center Advisor. Contact her at or 386-4000.

July 2015: Commerce Corner

Health care summit set for August

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

According to the New York State of Health, as of Jan. 31, 2014, slightly fewer than 1.9 million individuals have completed the application process compared with what was reported by the New York State of Health on April 16, 2014, when more than 1.3 million individuals had completed the application process and there 960,762 were enrolled in the Health Care Exchange. In 2015, so far there have been more than 250,000 enrollees. Access to health insurance is becoming easier for individuals. So is this a sign that the state’s exchange is working? [Read more…]

June 2015: Commerce Corner

Be the change, make a difference

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

As I reflect upon my career, it seems ever-apparent that leaders commonly face several major changes or transitions in their working lifetime. With each change, a new set of skills, behaviors, attitudes and way of thinking accompany this challenge, but not without reasons. [Read more…]

May 2015: Commerce Corner

Improve your best assets, quality

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” — Thomas Edison

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

Ever have that employee who has so much potential but puts forth little effort? Or do they fail to recognize their own abilities? [Read more…]

April 2015: Commerce Corner

Family businesses need a solid plan

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

When many people think of businesses, they often ask if it’s a non-profit, a for-profit, or a corporation. We rarely really ask if it’s a family-run or owned business. Family-owned businesses are all around us, from small mom-and-pop stores to local restaurants such as Momma’s Kitchen or Shorty’s Diner, or larger ones like BMW, Walmart and Raymour and Flannigan.

But what does it mean to be a family-owned business? [Read more…]

March 2015: Commerce Corner

Get involved and support Fort Drum

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

Columnist Lynn Pietroski

Have you ever stopped to think about what would happen if Fort Drum downsized and how it would affect our everyday life from where we work to where we live, and even the recreational aspects in our community. As a community we have been fortunate to have the development and expansion of Fort Drum, which has brought a range of diversity. [Read more…]

February 2015: Commerce Corner

Understand the new generations

Columnist, Lynn Pietroski

Columnist, Lynn Pietroski

Millennials, Generation X, Generation Y, and now Z. They’re common labels that designate different generations of our population, but who are they and what does all the alphabet soup really mean? [Read more…]

How to foster employee longevity

Commerce column || by Lynn Pietroski

Commerce Corner column || by Lynn Pietroski

Every two years, the U.S. Department of Labor measures employee longevity and since 2004, the median tenure has been on the increase. However, the average tenure is just 4.6 years. Is this a good thing for employers or employees and what does it say about today’s workforce? Many factors can sway a person’s opinion on this topic. [Read more…]

Commerce Corner: Manage all complaints effectively

“Constant complaint is the poorest sort of pay for all the comforts we enjoy.” — Benjamin Franklin

Nearly every day each of us is faced with the word complaint. Ever more difficult is the delivery of the complaint — they can be received via social media, email, phone or in-person. How a person deals with this is the most crucial and fragile thing that we can encounter. However, we are all humans and are entitled to an opinion and the right to be heard. The challenge most people face is the ability to listen effectively with an open mind to hear what the other person is conveying, right or wrong. [Read more…]