Wichita’s Talent Pool – Keeping It Deep

Part one of a four-part series on Young Professionals of WichitaFinn_web
By Suzy Finn

Executive Director Suzy Finn (pictured) joined Young Professionals of Wichita (YPW) staff in 2013. As an active member of YPW for several years, Finn served as an Ambassador for the organization and a member of the YPW Board of Directors. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Marquette University and master’s degree in business administration from Wichita State University.

Roughly 20% of young adults in the Wichita metropolitan area leave our community each year, representing an estimated annual lost investment of $595 million, according to data shared during the ACT ICT presentations by the City.

The Young Professionals of Wichita exists to help fight that brain drain from our city, with a mission of attracting, engaging, and retaining diverse young talent to effect positive change for a brighter future. In this series of four posts, I’ll tell you a more about the three major components of our mission statement and then tell you more about how you can impact the future talent pipeline of Wichita.

Attract, Engage, RetainFB thumbnail
Since it was formed as a Chamber initiative in 2005, YPW has worked to attract to and retain in Wichita young professionals (YPs). In 2013, we added the word “engage” to our mission, because we recognize that a large part of retaining YPs is getting them engaged in and connected to the community. Through the 50-75 events our volunteers plan every year, we provide opportunities for our members to do just that. The focus of the events varies from professional development to purely social, with an opportunity for members to network at every event to build both professional and social networks.

YPW also works with our corporate investors to attract YPs to Wichita through a few key initiatives. The first is our Intern Return program, which has a goal of connecting interns to YPs and the city so that when they get that full-time job offer, they won’t hesitate to accept it and return to Wichita for the long term.

The second way we work with investors on attraction is by offering city tours for individuals they are recruiting to the city. This gives the recruits an opportunity to ask questions to YPW staff or volunteers about the city itself. Our volunteers get to share their passion for the city, and the potential employee gets candid answers about why those YPs choose to stay in Wichita.

One of our partners in recruiting said: “Our partnership with Young Professionals of Wichita is invaluable! It is imperative that our vendors be an extension of the service we provide to our clients. YPW representatives are courteous, knowledgeable and customer service-focused and we appreciate the special touch they add in selling Wichita.”

In 2013, YPW launched a third initiative to attract and retain college students to Wichita – the Launch Wichita website. With a focus on posting internship positions from companies in the Wichita metropolitan area, the site’s goal is to foster the internship culture in our community. Both YPW and the Chamber are working toward a goal of increasing the number of companies posting positions on the site from 30 in 2013 to more than 60 in 2014.

This site is open to all college students, and we’ve had individuals from across the country register to find internships in Wichita. Our goal is to market this site to not only our local college students, but also those attending other state schools in Kansas and in the surrounding states.

In my next post, I’ll share more about the importance of diversity and how we address that in YPW.

Suzy Finn
Executive Director
Young Professionals of Wichita

Post #2 – “The Diversity Difference”

Don’t miss the 2014 Topeka Legislative Reception

Governor&JonOnce a year the Chamber provides members with an opportunity to spend an evening in Topeka with our elected officials who shape legislative policy. This year our Legislative Reception takes place on Tuesday, February 11 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

Why should you attend?

  • To connect and share your input face-to-face with elected officials.
  • To demonstrate the importance the business community places on business-friendly legislation.
  • To show visible support for the Chamber’s 2014 Legislative Agenda.

We have heard and seen over and over again that legislators value communities that trek to the Capitol to connect with them.

Please review our 2014 Legislative Agenda and register for the event. This year’s agenda contains more education initiatives as a result of our work with the Business & Education Alliance.

We look forward to seeing you in Topeka.

Pictured above: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (left) greets Jon Rosell (right), executive director of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, at the 2013 Topeka Legislative Reception.

Todd Ramsey with Apples & Arrows visits with Byron West from Luminous Neon, Inc.

Todd Ramsey with Apples & Arrows visits with Byron West from Luminous Neon, Inc. during the January 15 Sunrise Scrambler.

Improve Your PowerPoint Presentations with Three Principles

Todd Ramsey, Chief Strategist for Apples & Arrows, has seen a lot of PowerPoint Presentations over the years and “about 99% of them are bad.” Drawing on his own expertise and some advice from one of his favorite subject matter experts, Nancy Duarte, Todd provided us with three easy principles for improving PowerPoint Presentations.

Principle One
You don’t need PowerPoint.

Don’t use PowerPoint as a crutch. A presentation is the best time to utilize your personal creativity rather than depend on presentation tools. Experiment with other presentation tools that can add some flair to your message delivery. But remember that there is always a possibility that you’ll experience a technology glitch. So practice and be prepared to channel your passion for your subject by presenting without your tools.

Principle Two
Fewer words = better PowerPoint.

Don’t present a document or your script. Limit yourself to 75 words in your slide deck. Your audience will remember images more than they remember words, so incorporate the most memorable photos and videos you can find. Images connect your audience to your message through the emotions they evoke. (Todd is willing to share his “cute kitten” image with you if you need it.)

Principle Three
Stick with three big ideas.

Keep it simple so your audience can absorb and process your three most important ideas.

A few other tips from the Q&A that followed Todd’s presentation include:

  • Check out colourlovers.com or kular.adobe.com for some pre-existing color palettes that will help you make effective choices.
  • Limit yourself to two fonts. Remove Papyrus and Comic Sans from your font style options. They are simply overdone.
  • Comply with copyright laws when using images. Check the Creative Commons area of Flickr for some dynamic photos that you can use with some restrictions. You can also purchase images or grab a camera and take your own.
  • Minimize animation and use conservative transition styles to keep your file size manageable.

For more inspiring ideas, Todd suggested reviewing Nancy Duarte’s book, Slide:ology:  The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations.  And while you’re doing your research, Todd recommends viewing the video, A Pep Talk from Kid President to You.  In the memorable words of Kid President, “Remember that you were made to be awesome.  So get to it!”

Our thanks to Wichita Chamber Board Member Todd Ramsey for kicking off 2014 with some practical advice that we can all incorporate in our presentations this year. We’re also grateful to our sponsors:  Legacy Bank, Wichita Scottish Rite Center, and Southwestern College Professional Studies.

Special thanks to Jim Davenport from the Wichita Scottish Rite Center for providing a building tour following the presentation. There were many in attendance today who were visiting this historic building for the first time. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about its features and history.

Check the Chamber’s Sunrise Scrambler photo album on Facebook for event pictures. Our next Scrambler is February 19 at the Museum of World Treasures. Aaron Bushell from Bank of the West will speak about how failure can lead you to success in his presentation, Fail is not a Four-Letter Word.

Kansas Legislature Begins 2014 Session Today


The 2014 Kansas Legislature convenes this afternoon and the Chamber will once again be advocating for a better business environment that promotes investment, innovation, and job creation. Dan Voorhis of The Wichita Eagle sat down with the Chamber’s Vice President of Government Relations, Barby Jobe, and Director of Government Relations, Jason Watkins (pictured), last week to review the Chamber’s successes from the 2013 session. His article was published January 8 and included a review of what to expect in the 2014 session. The Chamber’s website has more detailed information about the 2013 Legislative wins and the 2014 Legislative Agenda.

Jason Watkins will once again be publishing a weekly recap of legislative activities. These electronic updates are posted on the Chamber’s website or Chamber members can sign up to receive them via email every Friday afternoon by contacting Cindy Reves at the Information Desk.

The Chamber is offering two opportunities for members to meet and network with elected officials during the first half of the year. Check the Chamber website later this week for more information about these events:

  • February 11: Topeka Legislative Reception  
  • June 9-11: 2014 Washington Fly-In

The Wichita Eagle has also published a helpful guide with information about how to track legislation, lobby a legislator, view campaign contributions, and tour the Capitol. For more information about the Chamber’s government relations goals and roles, you can review the Legislative brochure that was published last year.

Welcome to Mr. Wayne Chambers, our 2014 Chairman

Chambers, Wayne - lobby portrait imageI am pleased to welcome Mr. Wayne Chambers as our 2014 Board Chairman. He has served on the Chamber Board since 2011 and is a previous co-chair of Visioneering. Due to his experience and a last name of “Chambers,” it seems he was destined to lead us this year.

You may also know Wayne as President and CEO of High Touch Technologies, an IT and technology services company that recently made a significant investment in downtown Wichita by purchasing the building it currently occupies.

Wayne’s recent profile in the Wichita Business Journal included his priorities for the year. We applaud his goals of increasing collaboration between the Chamber and other community organizations as well as advancing the technology alliance and Leadership Council efforts. We look forward to working with him to realize these goals in 2014.

We are delighted to have Wayne as our Chairman and are looking forward to what this year will bring for the Chamber and for the Wichita area.

Gary Plummer
President and CEO

Important Benefits of Joining Your Local Chamber of Commerce

In my position as manager of membership development at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, I am always looking for ways to add benefits for our current and future members. However, there are certain benefits that are inherent for anyone who joins a chamber of commerce.

I found an article titled “Important Benefits of Joining Your Local Chamber of Commerce” by Kathleen Lanza, a freelance writing and strategic communications professional with more than twenty-five years of combined private, public and non-profit sector experience. She outlines several of the automatic benefits chamber members enjoy. Her article is below and I encourage you to take a look.

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur who is involved with your local Chamber already, we would like to hear from you. What benefits have you experienced by joining the chamber of commerce in your area?  Has your experience been worthwhile and yielded a solid ROI?  Why or why not? Email your responses to kdundas@wichitachamber.org.

Important Benefits of Joining Your Local Chamber of Commerce
From Money News Now – By Kathleen Lanza

Not to be confused with the Better Business Bureau, which represents the interests of both consumers and businesses alike, the Chamber of Commerce solely represents the interests of business owners.  Today there are thousands of these organizations all across the U.S., all of them focused in one way or another on promoting any number of pro-business initiatives.

Today’s Chamber of Commerce organizations range from the all-encompassing and nationwide U.S. Chamber of Commerce all the way down to the state, regional and local levels.  The exact nature and extent of the activity undertaken by the Chamber then varies in accordance with the level at which it operates.

For instance, local Chambers of Commerce are focused on bringing their own business community together in ways that will foster their members’ own growth and support for one another. In many cases, that means working with local government representatives, such as the mayor, the city council and other local representatives to ensure the voices of the Chamber’s actively engaged entrepreneurs and other business owners are heard and that their needs are being met.

Becoming a Local Chamber of Commerce Member

Okay, so it sounds like a no-brainer that any small business owner should get on board, join up and join in, at the very least where the local Chamber of Commerce is concerned, but not so fast!

Before you do, you need to understand going in that becoming a member of your local Chamber of Commerce will cost you some money.  That’s right, paying dues of some kind is required.  And while those dues will constitute a tax write off for you and your business, given that joining the Chamber isn’t free, it begs the question: “Is it worth it?”

We’ll get to that in a bit.

For now, just know that conducting a straightforward cost-benefit analysis is only part of the equation when it comes to making this decision.  It’s also important to understand that getting the best return on your investment will require something you may already believe you don’t have enough of these days…time.  Joining the local Chamber if you’re not going to take the time required to become an active member is probably not going to pay off much for you, certainly not in the long term.

Yes, joining your local Chamber of Commerce is essentially about your own business’ growth, that’s for certain, not just initially but well into the future.  It’s also about building relationships over time that will take time, but that will also have a tremendous positive impact on your professional and personal growth, as well as that of your surrounding community.

Chamber of Commerce Membership: Benefits from the Consumer Perspective

When it comes to describing the benefits of doing anything, there’s a tendency to rely on what would be considered more anecdotal evidence, especially where there’s been little research conducted or a lack of more scientifically driven information is available.

Thankfully that’s not the case when it comes to understanding the value of joining a local Chamber of Commerce from a consumer and customer relations standpoint.  On this subject, the findings are pretty clear.

In fact, a recent study designed to measure consumer perspectives on this topic yielded some pretty impressive numbers for building a persuasive argument as to why businesses and companies that don’t join their local Chamber may be doing themselves a tremendous disservice.  It was conducted by The Schapiro Group and Market Street Services using a scientific web-based survey of 2,000 adults across the country.

First among the most telling results?  When consumers know that a small business is a member of their local Chamber of Commerce, they are 44% more likely to think favorably of it, and they’re a full 63% more likely to purchase goods or services from that company in the future.

Talk about brand awareness and image enhancement!

Additionally, a high level of involvement in the local Chamber by a business grants it a certain level of trustworthiness and a competitive edge in the local marketplace. In fact, those businesses are automatically perceived by many to be industry leaders.

Furthermore, Chamber membership confers a higher level of distinction on certain types of businesses in particular, including restaurants and insurance companies.  And it results in all companies being more highly perceived as users of good business practices, reputable, caring about their customers and being more involved in their communities overall.

Chamber of Commerce Membership: Benefits from the Business Owner Perspective

So we’ve pretty much established that joining the local Chamber of Commerce carries a certain level of cachet where consumers’ perceptions are concerned.  And that alone is a great reason to get involved, no question.

But remember those more “anecdotal” benefits we referred to earlier?  They’re every bit if not more important to you as a small business owner because they represent the nuts and bolts of how your joining the local Chamber can yield measurable and positive results for you and your specific business over time.

Here they are:

Promotions and publicity—Many local Chambers run programs that offer promotional materials, events and activities to welcome new residents and businesses to the area, ensuring that your business is front and center and ahead of the local competition with this very valuable target audience.  Additionally, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) advertising and publicity opportunities are oftentimes available to members exclusively, and mailing list access alone could be worth its weight in gold.

Networking—While today’s technology and the ability to network online may have you wondering if the local Chamber of Commerce way of doing business in person is obsolete, think again.  There’s still nothing as strong as face-to-face communication where building trust, respect and name recognition is concerned…nothing.  And it’s only through building that level of relationship over time that you are likely to acquire customer referrals and find the most suitable vendors, consultants and distributors you need to help you grow your small business long-term.

Mentoring—We’ve talked a lot in these pages about the incredible benefit of having a mentor when you are starting or trying to grow your own small business, and the local Chamber of Commerce is a great place to find one.  It’s also a great place for you as an established small business owner or entrepreneur to offer your services to an up and comer in this regard.  Nothing pays you back like paying it forward, and mentoring is no exception to that rule.

Events and programs—The local Chamber of Commerce will likely facilitate a whole host of activities and events over the course of a given year, each designed to help you as a small business owner to either get to know your peers, your competition or your customers that much better.  These kinds of programs provide tremendous business opportunities for people to get to know one another and expand their prospect base and generate great leads.

Members-only discounts and services—Oftentimes, local Chambers of Commerce will negotiate deals with companies and businesses that provide the products and services that businesses need most, such as phone and internet service, computer hardware and software or other vendor products and services.  And don’t forget health care insurance access.  These discounts alone can mean hundreds of dollars in savings to the small business owner in particular, making the cost of dues almost negligible by comparison.

Government access and impact—Because the local Chamber of Commerce speaks with a united voice, one very much in favor of business interests, members are more likely to have an impact on government decision-making as part of a larger body than they would on their own.  Additionally, elected officials are much more likely to entertain an audience of concerned local Chamber of Commerce members than they are any one individual business owner, especially if he or she is not representing a very large concern or at the very least a large contributor.

An Office Away from the Office—Small business owners, especially those who work from a small home office, will have a place they can go to congregate with other professionals when and if the need for human interaction and exchange becomes preferable.  Moreover, they can oftentimes use the Chamber’s facilities to host clients and hold meetings, ensuring they have a more professional office environment available to them that may even be available at a moment’s notice.

For More Information:

Looking for more insight on what belonging to your local chamber of commerce might mean for you and your business in terms of consumer appeal? We invite you to contact me, Kresta Dundas, at 316-268-1115 or kdundas@wichitachamber.org

And if you’d like more information about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, you’ll find it here at http://www.uschamber.com/.

Kresta Dundas
Manager of Membership Development
Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce