Give 'Em The Business


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Michigan Library Association Annual Conference, joint presentation with colleagues, November 2009

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Give 'Em The Business

  1. 1. Adding value with business services at your libraryAmy L. Cochran – Grand Rapids Public Library acochran@grpl.orgElizabeth Kudwa – Capital Area District Library kudwae@cadl.orgTera Moon – Southfield Public Library tmoon@sfldlib.orgNicolette Warisse Sosulski – Portage District Library
  2. 2.  Board members are community minded individuals, so services that bolster your community resonate with them. Perhaps even more than your average taxpayer, board members are concerned about Michigan. They want the library to be involved with the effort to bring businesses to your area and keep it there. Portage District Library Business Information Center
  3. 3. Ask your director for space at board meeting to tell your business stories Boards vote on budgets, and business resources can be among the priciest items in your collection Stories—successful programs, grateful entrepreneurs, new services they may not be aware of as patrons— bring home your value Strategy: schedule a program the same night as your board meeting and let them see people flocking in
  4. 4. If your board makeup is like ours at the PDL, there is a sizable contingent of established community members including some that are mid-50s and over. That means that These people are likely to find your information on investments and the market highly relevant and valuable Board members are a potential source of business programming and program ideas, from resume advice to business counseling. They may also know speakers you are seeking personally Some of your board members may be business owners that you should make a special effort to invite to your programs Board members are networked in the community—connectors in Malcolm Gladwell parlance—if they know your programs, word gets out faster.
  5. 5.  Identify appropriate organizations. ◦ SCORE ◦ SBDTC ◦ business development dept of municipality ◦ planning dept of municipality ◦ treasurers office Approach with a message about what the library can give; show that the library adds value to the process of starting a business by providing quality information Share success stories to illustrate this; get testimonials from those you’ve helped
  6. 6.  Network! ◦ In order to get to know these orgs, attend their events, ask to speak at meetings ◦ Just as its important to know which community orgs to refer YOUR clients to, make sure they know when to refer their clients to YOU Offer sponsorship of programs If you host their programs or events, always kick off the event with a commercial for the library Make yourself indispensible but . . .
  7. 7.  Beware of unsolicited program offers o ask them for a proposal of their program in writing o ask for references o have a contract that states they cant promote their business Biggest challenge for you the librarian: straddling the line over being helpful and doing too much
  8. 8.  Your library is one piece of the support structure for starting a business Partner, partner, partner! ◦ Lots of referrals both to and from the library. Patron viewpoint ◦ Referred to the library for market research ◦ Stumbled upon the library and discovered our resources ◦ Active library users already aware of our breadth of resources Set expectations early ◦ Evaluate what services you and your staff can provide  Available resources  How to use them  What will the librarian do?
  9. 9.  Assure the patron of confidentiality Contact info for patron Patron’s question Search terms used including SIC/NAICS codes Any related associations or publications Sources used Track the time spent by hours/day Key results of search Identify actionable information, or the take-away points passed on to the patron
  10. 10.  Dedicated space and staff member if possible
  11. 11. Website content o Example from the Grand Rapids Public Print pathfinders covering particular topics Print instructional guides that go deeper than traditional pathfinders
  12. 12. Sample bookmarks from CADLon marketing & small business databases
  13. 13.  Database Guides o How to use some of the most popular databases o These could be provided by the vendor, or internally by your library
  14. 14. Grand Rapids Public Library – Instructions onusing BusinessDecision, a demographicsdatabase
  15. 15.  Folder with pathfinders and program information Enewsletter – highlights resources and promotes library business programs Blog entries Programming and one-to-one help
  16. 16. An example of apromotion for a3-part class onmarket researchthat GRPLtaught at theMI-SBTDC
  17. 17. Summing Up  Be aware of the various groups to please o Library Board & Administration o Community Organizations o Patrons  Be aware of your available staff and resources  Set expectations and services accordingly  Partner whenever you can!