Guide to the Business Showcase

Searching for a way for your business to plug into the community? The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Business Showcase at the Curtis M. Phillips Center on Thursday, May 17. Businesses in Gainesville have the opportunity to promote their services, bond with other businesses and build a network of local business.

This year, more than 70 businesses will be attending. The showcase is open to the public and 300 visitors are expected—all of who will be vying for a door prize (all business must donate something of $50 or more value).

The Innovation Room will make an appearance for the third time at this year’s Showcase as well. The room will encompass some of Gainesville’s startup companies and give a glimpse into Innovation Gainesville—the organization that assists with new innovative businesses.

Mike Cushing, the communications and research manager for the Chamber, shared the best ways for businesses and visitors at the Showcase to get the most out of their time.

“Businesses should bring something to give away; something that’s useful but will also grab people’s attention,” Cushing says. Coozies, pens or potholders are examples of useful and promotional props. “In the same way, booths should be engaging and share what a business does. Stay away from anything too flashy.

“Anything that makes people work too hard to understand the business is counterproductive.”

Still—don’t leave your business’ booth to the last minute. The “Best of Show” award will be given to the organization with the highest score, based on innovation and originality; content and substance; and presentation. Last year the award was given to A Candies Limousine CEO Sander Kaplan.

The point of the Showcase is to make a connection; both visitors and businesses that are tabling at the event should be interested in establishing a relationship and networking—with other visitors and businesses around them, he says.

“Visitors should get there early and not be in a hurry,” Cushing suggests. “Take the time to meet people. Making conversation, being interested and courteous go much farther than trying to sell your business.” Other tips? Pick up business cards at every table you visit and make notes about the individuals you meet to help jog your memory when you call later.

Both businesses that are promoting and people who are visiting should look around and makes connections, advises Cushing. “Stop at every booth. You never know what hidden treasure you’ll find.”

The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce has a webpage with a listing of the businesses planning to attend the Showcase, as well as a floor plan to plan your route. Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are being used to share the Showcase as well. Tag your business and tag others as a way to promote the event and local business.

Setup of the event is planned for 12 to 3pm and vendors get their own preview from 3 to 4pm. The event is open to the public from 4 to 7pm. Tickets are $12.

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