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April 2010
 

 

 


Mike Antich


“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.” – Yogi Berra

Editor's Notebook
"The World Series" of Commercial Fleet

by Mike Antich
mike.antich@bobit.com

April is the official start of the baseball season, and in homage to this great sport, we decided to have a little fun and create a sports theme for this month’s newsletter. Besides being the start of the baseball season, the month of April also kicks off the build-up to the “World Series” of the commercial fleet management industry – the AFLA Annual Conference, which will be held Sept. 8-10 at the Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Summerlin, Nevada.

Expanding on this baseball metaphor, think of the AFLA Conference the same as you would a coach whose job it is to help you improve your professional performance. In our case, the AFLA Conference is your “business coach” to help you excel as a commercial fleet professional. The secret to success in business or sports is your ability to continually advance your skills to a higher level. This is the mission of AFLA and its ROI to you.

In baseball, you always have to be thinking ahead, “reading” the plays before they occur. Similarly, excelling in your career means learning to “stay ahead of the game.” AFLA’s strategic approach to fleet management education keeps you a step ahead of the challenges facing our industry and positions you to "Turn Change into Opportunity," which is the theme of this year’s conference. This is what makes AFLA a major league conference and gives you the opportunity to be a fleet MVP.

The 2010 conference promises to be another homerun for AFLA, with some (and I’m one) predicting it will be an out-of-the-park grand slam! Register today to attend the 2010 AFLA Conference and be a hitter.

See you on opening day at the World Series of commercial fleet!


 

"You can't compare me to my father. Our similarities are different." - Dale Berra

AFLA Athletes of Yesteryear

by Scott Okun
sokun@autodriveaway.com

Bill Gibson, former Tight End at NAVY 1970 and 71 and TX 1972-1973. Bill has some great stories about playing but they would require a beer or two and you must be over the age of 18.

Rod Ruth played basketball at Michigan Tech University from 1984 to 1988 including MVP 1986-1987 and 1987-88 and First Team All-GLIAC Honors two years in a row. Inducted in to the Michigan Tech Hall of Fame in 1999. After Michigan Tech, Rod played overseas in France and Northern Ireland for several years.

Jeffrey Bonchek, Regional Sales Manager for Fleet Response, played 2nd and 3rd base for Michigan State University, 1986-88. A former All-Big Ten player, he continued his baseball career by playing professionally with The Cleveland Indians Baseball Club, 1988-90.

Pete Silva was a scholarship wrestler in college at the University of Florida; he wrestled in high school and was 83-9 and won a state championship in New Mexico. He wrestled two years at Florida. During his sophomore year he wrestled in the Southeastern conference tourney at Heavyweight due to injuries. Pete weighed 184 lbs. First guy he wrestled was LSU's defending conference champion who weighed 270 and needless to say, “he killed me” said Pete. Florida dropped its wrestling program and Pete stayed and finished engineering school.

John “Jack” Losch, former fleet director for the Pontiac Division, was the center fielder on the first Little League Baseball World Series championship team, then went on to a life many could only dream about. Mr. Losch went on to become a multi-sport star at Williamsport High School, and he earned a football scholarship to the University of Miami. An All-America running back, he still holds the Hurricanes’ team record for the longest run from scrimmage, 90 yards (in a 1955 game against Bucknell University). His 39.3-yards-per-carry average in that game also stands as a record at Miami. He led the team in receiving yards (206) and points scored (31) that year. A first-round draft choice of the Green Bay Packers in 1956, Mr. Losch was picked 16 rounds ahead of future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr. Mr. Losch spent one year in the National Football League. Jack Losch passed away in 2004.

Ed Bobit: It's been so long ago, no one can really remember the names, but I landed in East Lansing (Michigan State) in the summer of 1945 (pre-Big Ten) for early football practice and actually got to play as well as making the wrestling team. I was a linebacker and our big triple threat star was Jack Breslin (our basketball arena is named after him). I hung out on the basketball court with now Baseball Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts (pitcher for the Phillies for years). After naval action I later was heading up football recruiting in the Chicago area for my good friend, Duffy Daugherty; and more recently spent three two-year terms on the Athletic Council.

Lynn Morgan, Vice President, Marketing & Consulting for Manheim, was on the University of Georgia women’s tennis team that won the SEC Championships in 1983. She played on the University of Georgia women’s tennis team, 1982-1986. In addition to her collegiate tennis career, Lynn was also President & CEO of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) from August 2001 to December 2003. The WUSA was formed in 2000. During WUSA's inaugural year, Lynn served as General Manager of Cox Pro Sports and was responsible for the development and management of the Atlanta Beat and the San Diego Spirit, two of WUSA's eight teams. The WUSA Investor Group included media giants AOL Time Warner, Comcast Corporation, Cox Enterprises, Inc. and Cox Communications, Inc., as well as individual investors John Hendricks and Amos Hostetter.  The eight WUSA teams include the Atlanta Beat, Bay Area CyberRays, Boston Breakers, Carolina Courage, New York Power, Philadelphia Charge, San Diego Spirit and the Washington Freedom.  

Mike Antich, AFLA past president, played one season for the New York Mets prior to entering the fleet business. Click here for a photo of Mike at the plate during a Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals game.

 


 

While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.

 

 


Rick Nicoletti

 


How 16-Inch Softball Created a Fleet Legend

by Rick Nicoletti, Napleton Fleet
rnicoletti@napletonfleet.com

The Clincher…it’s baseball, only a bigger variety.

It’s Spring and you know what happens every Spring – baseball! If you haven’t figured it out by now, the theme for this month’s Spec Sheet is baseball. A few months back I wrote an AFLA Legends piece on Don Fenton, one of the founders and early presidents of AFLA.

In 1957, Don was working for Victor Comptometer in the Chicago area. He wasn’t particularly thrilled with his job, but it was a job.

Don was an avid sports fan, having played basketball and baseball at Schurz High School. Now out of school and working, he was captain of the 16-inch softball team at Victor Comptometer. Victor decided not to sponsor the team for the upcoming year. Don, as captain, needed to find a new sponsor.

Don Fenton

One of the first businesses he contacted was Nickey Chevrolet. He walked into the showroom and asked to see the owner about sponsoring a softball team. The sales manager directed him down the hall to the owner’s office, but said, “There’s no way Mr. Stefani will spend money sponsoring a softball team. If you can get money out of him, come back and see me. If you’re that great a salesman, I’ll give you a job.” Don met with the owner and walked out of his office with a $600 check to sponsor the new Nickey Chevrolet softball team. The sales manager hired him and a sales legend was born.

My mention of 16” softball piqued the interest of a few readers. 16-inch softball? What the heck is that? So the following is a brief history of the game and a couple of personal recollections of a uniquely Chicago game.

The earliest known softball game was played in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, 1887, between Yale and Harvard alumni who had gathered at the Farragut Boat Club to hear the score of their annual football game. When the score was announced and bets were settled, a Yale alumnus threw a boxing glove at a Harvard supporter. The other person grabbed a stick and swung at it. A George Hancock called out "Play ball!" and the game began, with the boxing glove tightened into a ball and a broom handle serving as a bat. This first contest ended with a score of 44-40. The ball, being soft, was fielded barehanded.

George Hancock is credited as the game's inventor for his development of a 17" ball and an undersized bat in the next week. The Farragut Club soon set rules for the game, which spread quickly to outsiders. Envisioned as a way for baseball players to maintain their skills during the winter, the sport was called "Indoor Baseball". Under the name of "Indoor-Outdoor," the game moved outside in the next year, and the first rules were published in 1889.

In 1895 Lewis Rober, Sr. of Minneapolis organized outdoor games as exercise for firefighters; this game was known as kitten ball (after the first team to play it), pumpkin ball, or diamond ball. Rober's version of the game used a ball 12 inches in circumference, rather than the 16-inch ball used by the Farragut club. Eventually the 12-inch ball became the national standard, but Chicago embraced the softer 16-inch or “mush” ball. The term “mush” ball is definitely a misnomer. The 16” clincher pictured above is hard as a rock. The pros that play the game in the Chicago park leagues always used a new ball (The Clincher) for each game. True, by the end of a game the ball had softened, but never was it a “mush” ball.

I grew up on the Westside of Chicago within blocks of one of the more famous 16” softball fields in Chicago. As kids in the late ‘50’s and early ‘60s we didn’t realize that the games we saw at Kells Park on Chicago and Homan Avenues were played by some of the best 16” softball players. Kells was one of the few parks that had lights so 16” softball night games were common. I remember spending many summer nights at Kells watching softball (and maybe the young ladies).

It was rumored that Moose Skowron once hit a 16-inch softball across Chicago Avenue which runs east and west and hit the building on the north side of the street on which the Rockola jukebox factory once stood – close to 275 feet!

Many of the players from that era ended up in the 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame. I happened to be looking through the names of some of the inductees and one stood out, John Hornacek. Years later – in the late ‘90s – he would ref my son’s high school basketball games. Why do I remember his name? He had a son that played a little NBA ball, Jeff Hornacek of the Utah Jazz.

If you’re ever in the Chicago area during the summer and want to experience 16-inch softball, I would recommend checking out the leagues along Chicago’s lake front or in Forest Park, IL. Give me a call, I’ll be happy to join you!


 

"I don't know (if they were men or women fans running naked across the field). They had bags over their heads."   - Yogi Berra

Who’s a Bigger Jets Fanatic? Memolo vs. Levine

Being a Jets fan…

by Frank Memolo
memolof@us.panasonic.com

When I was asked to write a couple of paragraphs about being a Jet fan, I thought, great, love to, no problem, cut me open and I bleed green! As I started writing thoughts down, I realized it was no small task condensing 40 years of a passion into a couple of paragraphs!

I’ve basically been a fan all my life; I was 6 when they won Super Bowl III. While I don’t remember the game, I’m sure, growing up in the New York City area, all the excitement of the team at the time is what hooked me. As a kid I’d watch games on a small black and white TV I had or often, due to NFL black out rules, I’d have to listen to home games on the radio (to this day I can still enjoy listening to a radio broadcast of a game).

Speaking of Super Bowl III, not too long ago I was watching a rebroadcast of that game. As the game progressed I got agitated and started yelling at the TV blurting out “typical Jets!” I finally calmed down and said to myself “Frank, this game ended 40 years ago, we won, relax!”


Me, my friend Jim and former Jets center John Schmidt
who played on the Super Bowl III team.

I’ve been fortunate to have met many members of the Jets over the years, most notable being Matt Snell, Emerson Boozer, Bruce Harper, Boomer Esiason, and of course, the man himself, Joe Namath. I do have a Jets shrine at home filled all kinds of Jets memorabilia (aka junk!) including a pair of Jets cufflinks (circa early '70s) and an Oreo wrapper with the Jets logo on it autographed by Keyshawn Johnson.


Me with Gary Dell'abate (aka Baba Booey
of the Howard Stern Show) before a game.

I have plenty of memories, some great, some aggravating, and some painful (see chapter on Rich Kotite).

When thinking of my most memorable moments I have to divide them up in three categories: Games I’ve watched on TV, Games I’ve been at, and Non-game memories.

So, my most memorable moments are as follows:

TV games:

  • Mud bowl-Jets vs. Dolphins, AFC Championship Game (’83). My dream of seeing the Jets in a Super Bowl that I’d remember sinks into a muddy mess in Miami.
  • Double Overtime playoff loss to the Browns (’87). Gastineau gets called for roughing the passer on 4th and 10; are you kidding me?!
  • 51-45 win over Dolphins (’86) Dan Marino passes for 448 yards and lost, how great was that!
  • Marino fake spike game (’94), the day I learned I could speak in tongues. The Jets go 4-33 over the next 37 games they played after that.

In-person games:

  • Division playoff win against Jacksonville (’99). Winning sent us to the Championship game in Denver. Confetti was flying everywhere at the end of that game.
  • Miracle in the Meadowlands, 30 point 4th quarter comeback, beat the Dolphins in OT, ranked as the #1 Monday Night Game ever (’00). I recall looking at my watch. It was 11pm and I thought, “If I leave now, I could get home at a decent hour.” I’m glad I stayed.
  • Last season’s home opening win over the Patriots. This was the 4th year in a row that our home opener was against the Pats, 0-3 so far. New head coach, rookie QB making his second start, and crowd sensed something was different and was euphoric over finally exorcising the NE home losing streak.


Me and my son Chris at a game
(in the background is Donna Bibbo and her son Casey)

Non-game memories

  • Meeting Joe Namath (’94) for the first time at a signing event. I still get ribbed today about how I couldn’t even speak.
  • Winning a contest sponsored by Cannon where part of the prize was getting on the field during warm ups before the game.
  • Winning a contest sponsored by JC Penney where you got to attend a “practice” with former Jets. I remember slamming a tackling dummy into the ground during tackle drills, looking up and seeing former Jet Linebacker Greg Buttle shaking his head saying “You’re going to feel that on Monday.” He was right.

The past few years, I’ve had season tickets sitting next to two other fleet managers, Donna Bibbo of Novo Nordisk and Joe LaRosa of Merck, which has been a lot of fun (and during lulls in the game gave us a chance to talk about our fleets).

I could go on and on about my Jets, but I’ll stop here with a quote I read:

“Facts are fleeting. Feelings are forever. So when you can’t recall how many yards a player gained or who scored which touchdown, you never forget how it made you feel.”


Photo 1: One of my favorite customized Jet fan vehicles
Photo 2: Me with the Flight Crew (the Jets cheerleaders)

Editor’s Note: Frank Memolo is the long-time fleet manager for Panasonic Corp. of North America, a position he has held since 1986. Frank is also a member of the AFLA Commercial Fleet Sounding Board.

 

Confessions of a J-E-T-S Fan

by Stephen Levine
stephenlevine08@gmail.com

Stephen Levine

I’ve been a J-E-T-S fan for a very long time and a season ticket holder for about 38 or 39 years. I was at the game when Mr. (infamous) OJ Simpson broke the 2,000 yard mark for the first time. There was so much snow that day we watched as the referees gave him some extra yardage during the game to ensure the record.

My brother and I bought two seats, in the next to last row at the end of Shea Stadium in the extreme upper deck in left field. The good news was there was a little overhang that covered just that area so the rain and snow never hit us and the extra overhang at the end deflected the wind. Actually good seats. My best friend (a fleet manager at a major media corporation, who previously was Joan Payson's personal pilot when she owned the Mets) was able to get us four tickets on the 40 yard line under cover.

For too many games, our J-E-T-S were not very good. My wife attended the games with me and we became friendly with the rest of our row. She and the good doctor that sat next to her were limited to celebrating only first downs or the sun coming out from behind the clouds with a little brandy as wins were very few. They enjoyed themselves in spite of the game.

We surely enjoyed the famous “Sack Exchange” in the early ’80s. That is the reason I detest Farve. I have no respect for him at all. I actually didn't care if the J-E-T-S lost every game he played. If you remember, he took a dive, totally unethical behavior, so Michael Strahan could break Mark Gastineau’s single season sack record. Disgraceful.

I moved to Kalamazoo, MI, for 13 years, but still kept my tickets. Once Cablevision took NBC off the air for a full year. When the J-E-T-S were on (too rarely), I had to take a little TV up to a special corner and work the rabbit ears until I was able to get a fuzzy signal out of Grand Rapids. When Pharmacia moved us back to the NY area almost the first thing my wife and I did was go to the J-E-T-S store to refurbish our wardrobe. One of my best buddies at Pharmacia was our Chairman's driver, an avid Giants fan and J-E-T-S hater. Once, when he went on vacation, I attached a J-E-T-S license plate frame to the Chairman's vehicle. Fortunately for me, there was only verbal abuse, although there were serious threats of physical violence when he discovered my deed.

Three Generations of J-E-T-S Fans
Stephen Levine with his daughter Pam and grandson Sam

My daughter was born Nov. 5, 1978, and in her honor the J-E-T-S scored three touchdowns in the second half to beat Denver. She was born in the morning and I was able to watch the entire game in the hospital that afternoon. My wife is still a great fan, but has to leave the room when watching a game, she can't handle the stress. She hates Favre more than I do. One major concern we now have is while watching the Cincinnati playoff game, my daughter called to tell me that my 3 1/2 year old grandson was rooting for the “striped helmets.” At least he was dressed in his J-E-T-S outfit.

Editor’s note: After 22 years with Pfizer and legacy companies (Upjohn and Pharmacia) and more than 40 years in the fleet industry, Stephen Levine, director U.S. Fleet, retired in 2009. Stephen was named Automotive Fleet’s Professional Fleet Manager of the Year in 1999.

Click on this link to find out what Stephen’s doing since retiring from Pfizer.



Rick Barr

 

AFLA Profile:
Rick Barr – The New Colony Six Drummer

by Cheryl Knight

Rick Barr Keeps the Beat Going for “The New Colony Six”

During the day, Rick Barr directs operations at MS Management Corporation, a Deerfield, Ill., privately held lender in auto-based, consumer finance. At night, he plays drums for The New Colony Six, a Chicago rock band that garnered 14 top 10 hits from 1964 to 1973.

If you’re a ’60s rock connoisseur, you might recognize the band’s biggest hits: “I Will Always Think About You” (#22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968) and “Things I’d Like to Say”" (#16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969. Their first major local hit, “I Confess,” was featured on their debut album, Breakthrough, in 1966. In fact, you might still hear several of the band’s records on nationally syndicated FM stations, as they are in rotation even after 40 years on the airwaves.

Barr spent 26 years with Wheels prior to joining MS a year and a half ago. An AFLA member during several of his years with Wheels, Barr said he found the association immensely valuable to him and his company. “I was in charge of dealer direct purchasing operations, and I was able to get in front of a lot of dealers in a short time,” he said.
Barr joined The New Colony Six as their drummer during their recording session for “Roll On” in 1971. That song reached Billboard’s #54 position.

“I’m a ’60s pop guy,” Barr said. “I’ve been playing in saloons and bars since I was 14 years old.”

He began traveling with the band on tour in 1973. But the band soon disbanded in late 1974; however, that would not be the end of the music group. The New Colony Six reunited in 1986 and has worked steadily ever since.

“It’s more fun than anything. No matter what you do, you never have as much fun as in a band with dedicated professionals that play with heart and finesse,” Barr said. “And it’s not bad having thousands of people applauding you!”

Over the years, Barr and his band mates have played alongside such notable groups as the Beach Boys, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, and Paul Revere and the Raiders, to name a few. Barr’s own musical inspiration comes from some of his favorite groups, including the British Invasion bands, the Mamas and the Papas, the Turtles, as well as his Chicago ’60s peers, the Buckinghams, the Ides of March, and the Cryan’ Shames.

Barr also plays drums for The Original Rockin’ Fenderskirts, a ’50s and ’60s rock & roll band out of Chicago.

One of Barr’s favorite gigs was headlining the Naperville Ribfest about four years ago, where The New Colony Six played in front of more than 100,000 fans.

“It’s really gratifying to see people of all ages singing along with songs that were recorded 30 or 40 years ago,” Barr said. “People tell us all the time that a specific song meant a lot to them, and when they hear it, it lets them revisit that time.”

The Best of New Colony Six


 

Time Capsule: Rick Nicoletti

Sue Miller of McDonald's Corp interviews Rick Nicoletti of Napleton Fleet Group.

Time Capsule Archives:
Interviews with additional Past Presidents are available online at www.aflaonline.com, including:

  • Pierce Walsh
  • Mark Conroy
  • Jim Hoffer
  • Sue Miller
  • Jim Rallo
  • Patsy Brownson
  • Helene Kamon


David McKeone

AFLA Profile:
David McKeone – The Grocery Czar

by Cheryl Knight

Need Help Pricing Your Groceries? The Grocery Czar Can Help!

Upon retiring from the vehicle sales and leasing industry after more than 32 years in the business, David McKeone (formerly of Bridges Automotive Group and Crawford & Company) decided to start up a new venture that revolved around his love of food. He created The Grocery Czar, an innovative concept that offers monthly newsletter subscribers a way to save money at the grocery store.

“I’m trying to help some people who right now need some help,” McKeone said. The service, which is currently available for consumers in the metro Atlanta area, compares prices on at least 75 items twice per week. How does it work? Four shoppers head into Publix, Kroger, Walmart, and Aldi twice a week carrying the same grocery list. McKeone then does a side-by-side comparison on items ranging from milk to ground beef to strawberries. An easy-to-read report highlights the lowest price for each item.

Assuming stores like Walmart always offer the cheapest prices could be costly. McKeone’s comparisons have shown that cheaper prices, depending on the item, can come from any of the four stores being researched. For instance, while Walmart might have the lowest price on Tropicana Orange Juice one week, the next week that price might be cheapest at Kroger.

While there are core items (like eggs, butter, and milk) that are always tracked for the report, many items change week to week to explore a variety of foods and savings when available. The newsletter is available for members to print each Sunday and Thursday online at www.groceryczar.com.

McKeone’s new venture already has almost 1,000 subscribers paying an $8.47 monthly fee. Shoppers report savings of $30 to $60 per week on items listed in the report. Some members even report a savings of more than $300 a month.

“I’m passionate about saving money for my family and thought that The Grocery Czar was a great way to share what I know with my friends and my community,” McKeone said. “I get such a thrill when a subscriber tells me how much money the bi-weekly reports are saving them!”

As far as expanding The Grocery Czar, McKeone is now looking at several avenues, including franchising.


 

Union Leasing Announcement

Union Leasing Family Team Walk - Will you help us?

by Kent Boskovich
Kbosko@unionleasing.com

After a member of the Union Family was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2009, employees rallied together to make a stand. Thanks to a helpful group of organizers led by team captain, Sheri Smith, this coming May 2, Union Leasing's team of employees, family, and friends will join 14,000 walkers and volunteers across Illinois in Walk MS 2010.

Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic and often disabling disease. Every hour, another person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The cause for multiple sclerosis has still not been pinpointed. There is currently no known cure, so continued research is required to find one.

How can you help?
Please donate or join us. Any donation will be greatly appreciated.


 

AFLA has had a 20% increase in its LinkedIn membership since the Communications Committee came together in February, 2009.

Join AFLA's LinkedIn group.

 

"I'm not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did." - Yogi Berra

Welcome New AFLA Members

AFLA is proud to announce that we have reached the milestone of 250 members. As the advanced forum for commercial fleet professionals to network with industry leadership, we proudly welcome the following new members who have become a part of AFLA:

  • Richard Whitehead
    Packaging Corp. of America
  • Paul Youngpeter
    Rollins, Inc.
  • Jessie Morrow
    BASF
  • James Rogala
    Farmers Insurance
  • Sara Craig
    Scholastic Book Fairs
  • John Dmochowsky
    Kraft Foods, Inc.
  • Brandon Morris
    DIRECTV Home Services


Guy Kawasaki

Ten Ways for Small Businesses to Use LinkedIn

by Guy Kawasaki
guy@alltop.com | Visit his wiki

When I first blogged about ten ways to use LinkedIn, the site had 8.5 million total users worldwide. I’m told that now there are over twelve million small-business people on LinkedIn, which is roughly 20 percent of its total user base.

Many of these small-business people are using the site in ways you’d commonly imagine: finding leads, growing their business globally, or finding the right vendors. My buddies at LinkedIn recently provided me a list of ten additional ways small businesses can use LinkedIn:

  1. Acquire new customers through online recommendations and word of mouth. Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers. Increase your word of mouth referrals by asking your happy clients to write you a recommendation, which will be published on your LinkedIn profile and will be broadcast to their entire LinkedIn network.
  2. Keep in touch with people who care most about your business. Sites like LinkedIn help keep your business alive in the minds of the people who care most about your business. LinkedIn is effective for two reasons: the business intent of LinkedIn users and fewer status updates, which mean you stay on top of mind. Tip: You can also increase the impact of your status updates by syncing your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
  3. Find the right vendors to outsource services you’re not an expert on. Think of the number of times you’ve asked your colleagues if they knew of a great web designer or photographer. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to find and vet vendors through the network of your peers. Additionally, you can also trade services with your vendor connections on LinkedIn like a sort of a mutual referral system.
  4. Build your industry network—online and in person. Search LinkedIn’s Groups directory to find industry associations and networks to take part in. For example, if you’re in the event planning or wedding industry, there are over 530 groups. In addition, LinkedIn also surfaces popular events in your industry, calling out local events that your connections are attending. Imagine being able to find only industry events that your prospective clients are attending.
  5. Get answers to tough business questions with a little help from your real friends. Small business owners deal with challenging questions on a slew of topics each day. LinkedIn Answers and Groups let you find answers to those vexing questions quickly by tapping into the wisdom of your network (LinkedIn tells me there are over 200 different categories on Answers including one dedicated just to small business and over 2000 groups on small business related topics). Wondering whether your recent office purchase is tax deductible? Check out hundreds of questions on related topics here.
  6. Win new business by answering questions in your area of expertise. Use the many forums on LinkedIn to share the knowledge you’ve gained in your area of expertise. This is a great opportunity to win new business or at least find prospective clients to pitch your business to. Prospective customers will find your answers when they use LinkedIn’s advanced Answers search. And don’t forget, what goes around comes around. This is a great way to soft pitch your skills and expertise.
  7. Raise funding. You can use LinkedIn to find mentors or potential investors for your startup because there are over three million startup professionals and over 12M small business professionals on LinkedIn and it’s always good to stay in touch with folks who’ve been there, done that and are willing to mentor you. Once you’re connected, your participation on LinkedIn (answers, status updates or group conversations) may even cause them to consider investing in your small business.
  8. Network with peers in your industry for repeat business referrals. LinkedIn Groups is a powerful medium to find peers in your respective industries to network with and to find complimentary businesses to share referrals with. For example, mortgage brokers can find real estate agents to partner with on relevant groups and as most small businesses know, these partners are your best source of referrals that can turn into repeat business. With more than 2000 groups dedicated to small business topics, you’re sure to find a relevant group to network.
  9. Convince potential customers of your expertise by sharing unique blog content. Small businesses smart enough to create unique content on their expertise (either with a blog or twitter account) should link to it from their LinkedIn profiles. Or take it one step further by promoting featured blog content to LinkedIn members on the site (for e.g. with small text ads). You can specify exactly who will see your ads—Executives or VPs—and include a link to your profile so they know who’s behind this content.
  10. Keep your friends close and your competition closer. Over 150,000 companies have a company profile on LinkedIn, the “public profile” for companies. These pages surface key stats on companies and recent hires as well movers and shakers. Not only do company profiles give you unique insight into your competition, they also give you an opportunity to stumble upon potential hires by browsing through company pages.

I hope this helps you take LinkedIn beyond the usual uses and makes your small business even more successful.

 

 


Brenda K. Perez


"Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical."  - Yogi Berra

Auto Recall:
What Was Your First Car?

by Brenda K. Perez
bperez2@MazdaUSA.com

My first car was a 1965 Dodge Dart. I was 16 years old and responsible for paying for the gas and insurance. Of course, gas could be purchased in those days using dollar bills and loose coin so it was not too much of a burden.

The car had an AM radio and air vents only – no air-conditioning. It had over 100K miles on the odometer and it looked liked those were hard, hard miles. The headliner was split along most of the seams and the fabric hung loose – allowing the interior foam to fall down. The best part was that as I grew up in southern California, we had a LOT of very hot days so in order to keep cool I had to drive fast with all of the windows down. It was a great plan and at least it kept the air circulating – until the foam that fell from the headliner began blowing around the interior, ending up on my hair and clothes. Not good for a 16-year-old girl!

The car was always exciting to drive – as I never knew what item would fail next. One day while driving I started to smell something burning. The burning smell was quickly followed by smoke slowly rising from the floor area… a wiring harness had caught fire! Another day while driving (too quickly) the signal up ahead turned red, the brake pedal was pressed – and immediately went straight to the floorboard without slowing the vehicle! I was fortunate to be in the right hand lane at the time and was able to turn, pull the emergency brake, and eventually come to a stop without injuring anyone. I may be somewhat biased, but I recently saw a '60s something Dart on the highway and can honestly say that model has not aged gracefully – it is definitely not a “classic!"

Being only 16, I was thrilled to have some wheels and really didn’t mind driving an old beater. Plus I was the only one in my group of friends to drive, which was pretty cool. However, I think the Dart did impact my psyche in some manner and it may explain my chosen career path of working for OEMs and the benefit of always getting to drive new cars – they are a lot more fun and I never have to worry about getting foam in my hair!

Now it’s your turn. Send us your story. If you have a photo of you and your first car, all the better. Send your story to rnicoletti@napletonfleet.com.


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