Your Business Networking Back-to-School Checklist

Circa 1903, business networking resources included Crayola's original 8-pack...
Circa 1903, business networking resources included Crayola’s original 8-pack…


School is starting again in South Jersey for many children and teens either this week or next week. You may be stocking up on notebooks, three-ring binders with clear-view panels for inserts, and computer ear buds this very moment. So why not do some back-to-school (business networking) shopping of your own? After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Shake off that casual summer attitude and prepare yourself once more for the serious business of small conversations that could lead to big gains! Here’s your business networking “to-do” list for a successful rest of 2013:

Regarding Your Business Wardrobe, It’s Survival of the Fittest: Be brave and winnow out those outdated or ill-fitting business outfits that you’ll never wear again. Bag up the stuff that’s still in good shape and donate it all to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or some other charitable organization.

Once you’ve made room in your closet for new duds, make time for an online reconnaissance mission before you visit any brick and mortar stores. Since the warm could linger into November, scour the sales racks first so you can minimize your wardrobe budget…

Add Some Sparkle to Your Woebegone Business Cards: If you just reordered another batch of 500 (or more) cards, then you’re all set. If not, now’s the time to spruce up your professional calling card in a variety of ways. Maybe you have no logo. Maybe you’re still using your free Vistaprint design. Consider making a commitment by hiring someone to create a company logo before you order more or new business cards.

Has the flip side of your card remained empty real estate for years? Consider filling it with some promotional details to spare your voice (and the attention span of others) when handing out the card at networking soirees. Beyond Vistaprint, other options for custom and template business cards include MOO Inc., Zazzle, and Overnight Prints.

Assess Your Business’s Promotional Goody Bag: Do you display sell sheets or brochures at the designated marketing table while networking? Does anyone actually take them before leaving? Maybe it’s time to pursue other ways to market yourself when you’re mixing business with business.

Some of the latest trends in promotional and specialty items include custom golf balls and accessories, reusable tote bags, stress balls or figures, and multifunctional tools/items. If you need some professional inspiration, consider contacting any of these local South Jersey marketing companies: BBE Promotions, Corporate Pajamas Marketing Solutions, Marketing Directions, or Star Specialties.

Give Yourself a Social Media Tune-Up for Fall: When was the last time you assessed all your online social media accounts for informational accuracy and actual business ROTI (Return On Time Investment)? Don’t feel so bad – I’m just as guilty as you are!

Is your LinkedIn profile is outdated? Do you have clients begging you to request a LinkedIn recommendation (not to be confused with those LinkedIn endorsements that pour out like Skittles)? Then carve out some time to take care of these tasks.

Does your business revolve around a photogenic product or service? Are women your primary target audience? Then stop dawdling and create a Pinterest account so you can start pinning groovy images of your stuff. Photo-friendly businesses should also consider blogging on Tumblr  – this is another platform quite focused on multimedia assets.

You say your Facebook business page has flatlined at 398 “likes” and you can’t stand to look at it anymore? Then DO something about it – try a trivia quiz, a contest (but keep it legal), a coupon, a giveaway, whatever makes sense for your merchandise or services. Stop whining and take a cold, hard look at all your social media accounts (here’s my fly-by mention of Twitter and Google+). Minimize wasted time on ineffective platforms and maximize engagement and relationships on your “best fit” platforms.

Fill Your Supply Cabinet with the Stuff Choosy Moms Didn’t Choose: You do realize that all the stores selling back-to-school supplies for your “Liddle Kiddles” don’t want to hold onto more inventory than necessary, don’t you?

Now is the time to stock up on office necessities, such as: pens and highlighters and white boards and note pads and, oh my goodness, just about any size or color Post-It note that makes your professional heart palpitate with ecstasy.

Here are the usual suspects – peruse this week’s online circular and fill your supply room/cabinet/cubbyhole/bag with the things that help you make it through the work day: AC Moore, Michaels, Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, Target, Walmart, etc.

Fix Your Hair and Check Your Teeth for Spinach (Click!): When was the last time you updated your professional head shot (a necessity for most social media accounts, maybe your business card or brochure, your website, etc.)?

Do you look anything like the head shot accessed by people both known and unknown to you? If not, carve out some time and money for a photo shoot with a professional photographer. If you’re related or married to a professional photographer, all the better!

There are so many talented photographers in South Jersey and Philadelphia. A good starting point would be all those business cards you’ve scanned into your computer or have stored in binders. Pull a Gloria Swanson from Sunset Boulevard and be ready for your close up (now). Mr. DeMille is waiting…


When your kids start a new school year, how do you transition back into business networking “ramming speed?” Beyond the suggestions made here, what else do you think business professionals should do to get back into the serious swing of networking? Technically, you know, it’s still summer. So drain every last bit of sunshine available from these still-longish days and prepare yourself for a great 2013 fourth quarter.

Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her ( for a no-obligation project quote today!

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