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Are You Using Your Local Resources?

by Robin Ferrier on June 23, 2011

Next week, I’m participating in a panel on “Getting Started with Social Media for your Small Business” being run by the Rockville Women’s Business Center (WBC). It’s one of a slew of seminars the Rockville WBC offers. Other topics include government contracting, the ABCS of starting a business, presenting your business plan, and human resources 101.

If I were getting ready to launch a new business – or looking to re-launch my current business – the WBC has a lot of advice , and services, to offer.

It’s not alone in doing so.

Did you know that the WBC’s “parent” organization, Rockville Economic Development, Inc., is one of the sponsors of the StartRight! Business Plan competition? The competition awards more than $20,000 in cash prizes each year to businesses that have been in existence for less than two years, are at least 51% woman-owned, and are operating in Maryland, D.C., or Virginia.

Which brings me to the point of this post. And it’s a question: Are you utilizing all of your local resources to their fullest potential?

Have you looked up your local chamber of commerce to see what programming it offers and to see if joining makes sense? How about other Women’s Business Centers? Your local department of economic development, many of whom have access to funding opportunities? The U.S. Small Business Administration or local SCORE? How about any local leadership training programs, such as Leadership Montgomery in Montgomery County, Maryland?

As a small business owner, the connections you  make through these organizations – and the free or low-cost seminars that will educate you about issues that may until now have been foreign – are essential to your success.

Yes, it’s important that you do your most-important task: delivering promised products or services to your clients. But many of the resources and connections offered by local organizations such as those listed above will help you do so better and sometimes even more efficiently.

The idea of getting up and away from your desk and computer when you have a to-do list a mile long may seem Herculean at times. But more often than not, if you do your homework and choose the right activities being offered by the right organizations, the decision to “step away from the keyboard”  will pay off in the end.

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Robin Ferrier is Communications Manager for the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. She is also the immediate past president of the Capital Communicators Group, chair of the PR Committee for the Gaithersburg Book Festival, and chair of the Marketing & PR Committee forLeadership Montgomery. She has inadvertently become a frequent career / professional / job hunt resource for friends and colleagues due to a career path that has included five jobs in 12 years.

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