March 31, 2010

Learn As You Lunch

You don't have to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce to take advantage of its informative lunch luncheons and seminars.

The following three events happening in April offer you the chance to both get involved in steering the course of our community, network like a pro, and learn how best to use social media to target local audiences. Whether you attend one or both, you're guaranteed to decide it's money well spent.

Price: $10 for members/$15 for non-members
Why you should attend: Candidates for the board will address participants and then answer questions from the moderator. This is a great opportunity to meet and speak with candidates in a accessible, approachable forum.
Place & Time: Chef Paul's, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Note: RSVP by April 2 for premium pricing. Add $5 after April 2.

Thursday, April 8: Networking
Price: $10 for lunch and seminar
Why you should attend: Presenter Kelly Klug will share the common myths of networking and help you develop easy-to-use strategies to build strong, beneficial relationships.
Place & Time: Chamber of Commerce, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 22: Social Networking for Business
Price: $10 for lunch and seminar
Why you should attend: Presenter Karen Tiede will explain why you should have a presence on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook and the most efficient ways to use those sites to market and grow your business.
Place & Time: Chamber of Commerce, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Click here to RSVP to either event (plus many other Chamber events). Act fast to reserve your space!

Reviews

The best way to share any news -- good or bad -- is to tell your friends (who will tell their friends ... and their mamas ... and random people at the grocery store).

However, these days, it's hard to get together and talk about the delicious meal you ate or the awesome customer service you received. You can't find the time to ask where your coworker got her gorgeous color or your friend's husband found the best deal on a new set of tools.

That's where SocialSanford Reviews can help. We'd like *you* (and you and you) to submit your stories about local businesses and events. Tell us how great (or terrible) it was. Talk about why you would (or wouldn't) go back. Share what made your experience unique and why someone has earned your business.

We -- and all the other Socialites -- want to know where we should (and shouldn't) spend our hard-earned dollars.

[Click here to read past reviews.]

Of course there are some rules. We will only publish content that abides by these rules:
  • The business/even you are writing about must be locally owned. No rants against Walmart or Kmart, etc. Focus on local, local, local! We'll consider reviews for anything located in Chatham, Harnett, Lee, or Moore counties.
  • Your experience must have happened within 30 days of the date of your submission.
  • You must be specific. What did you eat or buy? Why was your service great or poor? What were your expectations. Simply saying something was great or something was terrible won't qualify. Ask yourself "why is this important?" if you're stuck.
  • You must be willing to use your name. Anonymous reviews aren't fair to anyone and our goal here is to present an honest, accurate view of local businesses. This is not a forum for trashing anyone.
With all of that said -- we're excited to hear your rants and raves about local businesses and events!

To submit your review: Email an edited Word document that's ready for print. (Make sure you use spell check!) We'll respond within 24 hours and your review will be posted in the order it was received.

Reviews will be posted on Mondays and Wednesdays.

[Click here to read past reviews.]

March 24, 2010

Downtown Sanford Events Calendar

I don't know about you, but my Google Calendar is the only way I can keep track of my family's activities. I can access it on my phone when I'm on the go, from my computer when I'm at home, and it makes it a lot easier for me to coordinate activities with my husband because we can share our calendars with each other.

If you use Google Calendar, did you know that Downtown Sanford has an events calendar that you can add to yours? It's so easy! Just go to this link, scroll down, and click on the button.

Then you just need to follow the prompts and you'll always know what's going on. It's a great way to stay informed and get involved.

Downtown Sanford Spring Open House

Downtown Sanford is holding a Spring Open House this weekend. There are a lot of great shops located downtown, as well as the Temple Theatre and some of the best restaurants in the county. Buy a gift for that wedding shower, take in a show, or eat a delicious lunch without leaving the county. In fact, if you present a receipt from one of the participating merchants at the Temple Box Office, you will get reduced admission. Sounds like a great date opportunity to me!

For more information, see the flier (in .pdf format) here. Supporting our local businesses benefits us all, so take this opportunity to check out Sanford's downtown merchants!

Beautiful gowns, beautiful girls

Sanford sits at more than 14 percent unemployment. Manufacturing and textiles jobs -- the old heart of our economy -- are gone ... quite possibly for good. Sadly, many of us don't have the resources to extend much of a helping hand. Until now.

The Christian United Outreach Center (CUOC) is working with Lee County Schools to help disadvantaged girls and their parents afford the rite of passage for many teens: Prom. Called "Second Chance Gowns," the initiative matches up local girls with beautiful gowns and accessories straight from your (and my) closet so that the girls can attend their proms, military balls, or end-of-year dances -- those magical moments that we all (hopefully) look back fondly on. 

The reality is without this program many local girls would miss out on these key milestones simply because their parents can't afford the dress and its accessories. Yet the CUOC can't do it alone. Here are two ways we can help:

1. Donate a dress. The program has collected dresses for the past few weeks to help our girls with military balls, but prom season doesn't end until April. That means they still have plenty of need for the dresses, shoes, and jewelry that's cluttering up your home. (And if you're like most, there is more than one never-gonna-wear-again dress hanging in your closet.)

Special note: The program is especially in need of large and plus-size gowns. Just as adults come in all shapes and sizes, so do our girls. The donated dresses don't need to be "prom" dresses. Bridesmaid, cocktail, or any other type of formal gown will be put to great use.

Extra incentive: Cafe 121 is offering free lunch and dessert to those who come dress-in-hand to donate. The offer only runs Monday through Friday and will continue through the month (and possibly longer).

2. Donate your time. The girls need something to wear, but they also need someone to make them look amazing in their new duds. The program encourages hair stylists, make up artists, and sewing experts to volunteer their time and talents. Helpers are also needed to help the girls try on the dresses and keep the CUOC thrift store running while the fittings take place.

Please let us know (either in the comments or via email) if you can add your hand to those working hard to give our girls a prom they'll never forget. This is a prime opportunity to show your children or community how easy and fulfilling it is to pitch in for a great cause!

More information: To read the Sanford Herald's excellent reporting on the program, click here (subscription required).

March 21, 2010

Submission Guidelines and Editorial Policy

SocialSanford is designed to help people living in Sanford and Lee County know more about what's happening in their community. The purpose is to get everyone out and about right here in our town. There's no need to drive anywhere else to have a fantastic, affordable, memorable time.

To maintain our purpose, we do have a few rules as to what we'll post. They are:
  • Items must be actionable. SocialSanford is not free advertisement for your business or fundraiser. We only post items that our Socialites can act on. For instance, your business hours aren't news -- but your 50% off select items is. That you have a Facebook page isn't news -- until you offer a giveaway or other incentive to encourage people to "like" you. The point is action. If there's no action to take, we won't post it.
  • Items are posted on SocialSanford's timetable. Once you submit an item or event for consideration, when (or if) we publish it is completely up to us. No amount of emailing the event or posting about it on our wall will speed us up. We add every item to the calendar quickly and then post it on Facebook as is appropriate for the item. Therefore, if you submit an item about a fundraiser for April, don't expect to see it until the end of March.
  • If you want something posted on SocialSanford, you should let us know about it. We are pretty good about collecting information from disparate sources, but the most certain way of getting your news or event information published is to send us a heads up (see methods below). If your item doesn't meet our criteria, we'll let you know and put you on the radar for future opportunities. Note: If you post your information on our page and don't see it, most likely the item is stuck in the Spam filter. Contact us so that we can unmark it for you.
Now that you know what information we'll post, you might wonder about how our Facebook page works. That's where you get to play!
  • What you can post: Use our Facebook page to share your news and information. This is a great way to let us know about events or news items that we'll want to pick up and re-publish for all Socialites. If you want your item posted ASAP, go ahead and put it up on our Facebook page. Of course, if you post the same information repetitively, we'll delete some of it (not all of it), but you have the freedom to share there.
  • What you can't post: SocialSanford is not the place for your political rants or conspiracy theories. We play nicely with each other and treat each other with respect. And, gratefully, in the more-than-12-months since we began SocialSanford, only one specific mean and hateful person has been an issue. Thank you to everyone else! If you have a question about something we've removed, email is the best place to ask it.
Our editorial policy is quite simple. Now that you know it, here are the ways you can submit information:
This should cover all the potential bases. If you have a question that isn't answered here, feel free to ask it in the comments.

Linking up Lee County

Ask most people not living in Sanford or Lee County how they'd describe our city and you're unlikely to hear anything close to the words "web savvy." However, if you ask anyone currently living or working in our area and they'll tell you all about how much time they spend on Facebook, which blogs they read for recipe and gardening tips, and where to find the best grocery or travel discount codes.

Despite our image a "sleepy Southern town," Sanfordites are surprisingly plugged-in. But not everyone is up to speed. Take city and county officials, for example. Why don't they harness the power of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to disseminate information*? Wouldn't it be smart to reach the online population -- a segment of voters who can be extremely passionate about politics -- where they live?

While the City of Sanford is doing its best with an ever-changing and often-updated website, city officials haven't yet taken the leap into social media. The county is closer to establishing an online presence, but there's no telling when or if we'll see something substantial. (To share your thoughts with the county, take this survey.)

The question both parties must grapple with is, "What's the point?" Why devote the energy and resources into social media without a solid idea of the return on investment? Why step into non-traditional media when only a fraction of Sanford and Lee County residents are using it?

Our answer: Because we're here, we're listening and reading, and we want easy access to the wealth of information you can easily provide. What is a fraction now is quickly growing, and online users will quickly rank (or out-rank) the offline ones. Because an informed, plugged-in community is an asset to new businesses and residents. Because it's 2010 -- it's time!

That's our opinion. We'd love to hear yours in the comments.

*We're talking updated regularly with information relevant to the community, not press releases or one or two posts per year.

March 19, 2010

Lee County's Elected Officials -- State & Federal

It's always good to know who your representatives are, so here's a cheat sheet for those who don't know the people who represent our area at the state and federal levels. No matter your political affiliation or ideology, these men and women work for us and it's good to share your opinions so they can cast votes for their constituency.

On the national level, we have Senator Richard Burr (202-224-3154, no email given) and Senator Kay Hagan (202-224-6342, no email given). Representative Bob Etheridge (202-225-4531, no email given) serves us in the House of Representatives.

Our state legislators are Senator Bob Atwater (919-933-3937, boba@ncleg.net) and Representative Jimmy L. Love, Sr. (919-775-7119, jimmyl@ncleg.net).

With election season right around the corner, it's a good time to do your research and get to know them!

Green Shopping

In honor of St. Patrick's day, we want to encourage you to go green this weekend with the ultimate in upcycling and recycling: yard sales!

One of the best -- and most adventurous -- ways to attack "yard saling" is to just pile into your car with a pocketful of $1 bills, a biscuit, and a good attitude. You never know what you'll run into and the journey will be a huge part of the fun.

But if you aren't one for winging it, here are two great resources for finding out about local sales:

1) The Sanford Herald. For a fraction of the cost of your breakfast combo, you can buy a local paper that lists dozens of yard and consignment sales -- especially on a weekend like the one coming up where the weather will be warm and folks want to spring clean. You can also check them out online.

2) Craigslist. You'll need enough patience to sift through listings from across the region and the willingness to write or print out relevant information, but Craigslist is a free resource that many yard-salers swear by. Simply go to the Raleigh (or Fayetteville, though it's not as popular) site and type "Sanford yard sale" or "Sanford consignment sale" in the search box.

Follow These "Rules of the Road"
These tips will keep you a happy, motivated shopper while you're out there on your early-morning excursion:
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect from the sun.
  • Leave the flipflops at home in favor of comfortable sneakers.
  • Carry small bills and change, as well as a map.
  • Bring a bag or box and some old newspaper for stowing your treasures.
  • Carry wet wipes or a bottle of hand sanitizer to clean your hands after each stop.
  • Obey the seller's rules ("No early birds" means NO EARLY BIRDS).
  • Check that items come from a smoke-free or pet-free home before you buy them if you are sensitive to those smells.
  • Plan your route around publicly available bathrooms.
  • Carry snacks and drinks if you'll be out for a while -- there's nothing worse than a cranky shopper!

Final word: Don't plunk down all your hard-earned cash on brand new clothes, toys, or other items when you can buy them gently used from someone else.

Happy (green) yard saling!

Eggtastic Easter Fun

While the City of Sanford doesn't host an Easter egg hunt, the children of Sanford have several options for getting their hunt on. Here are a few free events you should check out:

3rd Annual Community Egg Hunt hosted by the Central Carolina Jaycees
When: Saturday, March 27 at 11:30 am
Where: Kiwanis Children's Parkplace in Sanford, NC
Details: Age-appropriate hunts for children 10 and younger, face painting, crafts, contests, photos with the Easter Bunny, and a raffle for two Easter baskets (one each for a girl and boy).
For the adults: The Jaycees are raffling off a gift certificate basket filled with more than $100 worth of freebies to local shops and restaurants, including Wal-Mart, Spring Lane Cinemas, and Cracker Barrell.

March 1, 2010

Media

Kelly Quinones Miller, original founder of SocialSanford, is available for speaking engagements or to serve on planning committees focusing on a wide range of topics, including:
  • the SocialSanford concept,
  • how social media works and why you should use it,
  • needed improvements or developments in our area, and
  • work/life balance.
To schedule an interview, propose an engagement, or invite us to participate in a committee, please send us an email, contact us through Facebook, or leave a comment on this post.

In the news: