Let’s Get to Business!
By Lauren Schlau
Photos by Tony Medley
“Why did you join Rotary?” is a question we often ask one another. Some reply it is to give service, others say to form lasting friendships, while others want to form business connections to promote their specific goods or services to Rotarians. For many it can be all of these!
Those seeking an audience at LA5 to promote their businesses may find the club falling short on that expectation. One member expressed this in a follow-up e-mail: I think it is a mistake to ignore this feeling that it is somehow wrong to talk about or want business at Rotary; rather we should emphasize that business is OK at Rotary. My impression of the LA5 of old is that it was where LA’s business leaders met and that they did business together and they did service together. They were leaders in everything they did... those who are driven and ambitious in business also happen to be those who are driven and ambitious in service too. They are not exclusive.
To underscore this sentiment, this “service +business” model of Rotary goes back to 1910 to a speech by Rotarian Arthur Frederick Sheldon at the first convention, held in Chicago. Sheldon declared that “only the science of right conduct toward others pays. Business is the science of human services. He profits most who serves his fellows best.” Along with “Service Above Self,” this slogan was also adopted, ultimately changed in 2010 to “One profits most who serves best.”
In considering that our club can be a good place for both service and business, members Ivan Lovegren and Joe Grant kicked-off 2020 by organizing the year’s first breakfast meeting for conversations among members to identify how LA5 can better help promote our businesses to one another.
The 40+ attendees sat at tables to discuss three questions:
- How do you think the Club could better facilitate business between members?
- What ideas do you have for making it easier for club members to know who they should talk to for what professional services?
- How do we execute these ideas in a way that can benefit the Club and will be in Good Taste?
Based on the voice volume in the room, conversation was enthusiastic and energized! A number of good ideas emerged including:
- LA 5 should help facilitate ways for members to get to know one another better
- Tri-Fecta or One on One exchanges
- Hot Seat – featuring a member and their business at a meeting
- Panel of experts on a subject that are LA 5 members
- Feature Business in El Rodeo
These great ideas were underscored by a few caveats, which may relate to why “doing business” may have been unfavorable at LA5. Members wanted to make clear that the Directory is not a source to solicit en-masse, and that members should not be spammed via e-mail.
A consistent theme was that developing personal relationships, not “selling,” is the key for success in promoting one’s business. The ideas put forth are ways to better facilitate relationships at LA5. The next step is implementation.
President Rick has made returning LA5 to a position of influence a key goal of his term. Having business goals, business speakers and business activities will help make us known as a place where LA’s business leaders congregate and know one another, as resources as well as potential customers.