Lunch with a Leader – Zach Lear by Jim Johnson

I had the privilege of having lunch with a new friend today – Zach Lear.  He and his wife, Erin, own and run LONGevity Fitness on Fort Wayne’s southwest side.  What sets this fitness company apart from others?  Here’s what they say:

We commit to using our knowledge, experience and expertise to help individuals and communities learn how to become healthy and fit for a lifetime                 through education, motivation and inspiration.

zach learZach shared his career journey.  I was inspired by Zach’s desire to grow, learn, and the patience he exhibited during the different stages in his life.

Zach ran into a older HR professional a while ago who has now connected with him to help move his business to the next level.  Through this casual networking experience, this “old pro” (my words, not Zach’s) is sharing his knowledge to help another business grow and flourish – with no what’s-in-it-for-me. I love that!

Zach asked a lot about First Fridays and plans to visit us in September.  I learned that Zach is a reader and is invested in his own personal growth and development.  He asks great questions and is curious to know how others think and process.

If you’re looking for a personal fitness experience with dedicated partners, check out LONGevity Fitness.  No matter your age (Zach said that a couple of his clients are in their 90s!) or fitness level, LONGevity can help you become fit for life.

Longevity

Lunch with a Leader – Christi Williams by Jere Johnson

Christi WilliamsWhen Jim and I started First Fridays we had no idea what to expect, who would come, or how often people would attend.  Today, we had the pleasure of having lunch with an extremely talented young woman who attended every First Friday’s event this season.  Her name is Christi Williams.

Christi is the Marketing Manager for ServiceMaster by Monroe Restoration.  Like myself, she has only been in the Fort Wayne area for year, but she is meeting, connecting, and collaborating with many other leaders in our area.  She is a strong, confident young professional who has seen challenges in her life in recent years, but these times have helped create a toughness to persevere.

In our brief time with her, we could easily see she wants to learn, wants to grow, and wants to engage in our community by volunteering or networking with others.  If you would like to connect with Christi, reach out to her on LinkedIn or their website at www.smbymonroerestoration.com

service master

Does Connecting on LinkedIn Make a Difference? by Jim Johnson

My brother, Jere, and I talk with a lot of business people.  It seems the conversation comes around to social media and to this – are you “on it”, watching it from afar, or want nothing to do with it?

We encourage businesses to be “on it”.  Here’s why.

We are building a local networking/leadership forum, First Fridays, here in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  We could not have reached the audience we have without LinkedIn.  Prior to launching First Fridays, we both independently began extending our relationship reach using LinkedIn.  As a result, we met some great people who were also working to become better connected in the area.  We discovered that NE Indiana has a lively LinkedIn community – and we are proud to be a part of it.

Why do we encourage business people and their companies to become more involved in LinkedIn?

Awareness.  We are not marketing experts, but we have seen many businesses struggle with having the community know they exist.  LinkedIn is a HUGE resource in building awareness.  Connecting with others, participating in the online conversation, networking, sharing content all builds awareness of YOU (your personal brand) as well as your company.  In just the recent months, I’ve become aware of a local company that is growing and working to make an impact – GMS Distribution, Inc.  I’ve followed Gerrett Stier‘s posts and I’ve read his content.  He’s using LinkedIn and he is building awareness!  I’m not in the market for what GMS creates, but I’m enjoying how Gerrett promotes and builds awareness!

Indiana Wesleyan University has used LinkedIn to build awareness of their Fort Wayne campus.  From my brother‘s posts (he is a corporate rep with IWU) to posts by Dr. Matt Lucas, Chancellor of the National/Global campuses, to hosting First Fridays each month, Indiana Wesleyan has jumped into the the spotlight in NE Indiana.

Networking.  Businesses all over NE Indiana are finding ways to connect with consumers and other businesses.  Networking forums such as First Fridays, BNI, etc. are great places to meet face-to-face.  But networking can also happen online.  Because I network and have gotten to know more about local organizations, I have shared leads with others.  I have done this with Reusser DesignNate Reusser and Brandon Noll are “frequent flyers” at First Fridays and have become friends in the process.  I have had others ask if I knew a company that can design websites.  Of course, I did!  I reached out to Nate & Brandon on LinkedIn.

Content.  Businesses and business representatives are always sharing great content.  The ones that do it well are producing more than mini commercials on LinkedIn.  They are providing value-added content.  Organizations that excel in this are the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnershipand the NIIC.  From articles about how NE Indiana is growing to entrepreneurial stories and resources, both create content that is interesting, educational, motivating and truly makes us proud to live in our corner of the state.  Both organizations make an impact beyond our geographical boundaries.

Other business leaders such Randy Lehman of Northwest Mutual share content from wealth building to home buying tips.  All very practical.  Cody Weikel, one of my team members (he is the creator of the First Fridays logo), always shares interesting content while also promoting our company, 3Rivers.

Connect.  If you are not on LinkedIn or struggle to understand the reason why you should consider being on it, talk with Jere and me.  Or someone who is actively on it.  There are local experts on this.  You’ll find them on LinkedIn.  Experiment.  Read other’s content.  See how they are doing it.  You can do this.

It’s not about creating a commercial.  It’s about connections, conversations, content, and impact.  NE Indiana is blessed with wonderful organizations, companies and leaders.  You’ll discover them on LinkedIn.  They also want to see you there.

It works when you work it.

First Fridays Event in the News

wbclThis morning, Jere was interviewed on WBCL radio.  He spoke about our women-only event to be held at Sweetwater tomorrow morning at 8 am.

Thank you, WBCL, for your help in getting the word out!

As of right now (8:16 am), there are only 21 seats left out of 340.  If you have yet to register, please follow this link:  First Fridays Women Only Event at Sweetwater

 

 

Lunch with Leaders – Nate Reusser & Brandon Noll

The latest post by Jere Johnson

It is a ten-minute drive west of Fort Wayne, but it is worth every expense to have a visit with two of Roanoke’s finest.  First, the Joseph Decuis Emporium where the hardwood floors and vintage décor gives you a warm feeling when you enter and the food was fantastic.  However, my main reason for traveling to Roanoke was to have lunch with two wonderful friends of First Fridays, Nate Reusser and Brandon Noll of Reusser Design.

Reusser Design is a progressive, innovative web development and design agency based in Northeast Indiana. They specialize in web development, graphic design, search engine optimization, internet marketing, e-commerce, content strategy and much, much more.   The more is what I learned at lunch with these two men.

When Nate walked into the café, he was warmly greeted by name by the host engaging in some local conversation.  “It is important to me to be involved in our community because my name is on everything we do and we want to give back to our area”, shared Nate, CEO of Reusser Design.  Their company is extremely busy with new accounts and new hires, but they want to make a difference for others around them.

Brandon has taken his networking to new levels.  He is one of the men who has earned the right to be a part of Parkview’s Cookin’ Men on April 21st at the Grand Wayne Center.  He will compete with other men for the grand prize.  I would love to tell you what he is cooking up, but you will have to attend the event to find out.

What I love about these men is that they are amazingly relational.  They are champion networkers at our First Fridays meetings and embrace the need to make new relationships to build their growing company.  As their business continues to grow, you will see Brandon and Nate’s leadership guiding the way.

Come to our next meeting and I am sure you will have the opportunity to meet these wonderful men.  (For a hint where to find them, check the second row from the front, you will find them there, coffee in hand.)

You’re Asking the Wrong Question by Jim Johnson

whats the worse that could happenI’ve spoken with many people about their fear or concern over networking.  I typically ask them a question my boss frequently asks:  “What’s the worse that could happen?”  Great question!  But in this case, this is the wrong question to ask.  How about this instead…

What’s the BEST that could happen when you network?  

  • You expand your relationship reach in your community.
  • You start up new friendships.
  • You learn something you didn’t know about your community.
  • You meet influential leaders that will challenge you.
  • You see what leadership looks like outside your company’s four walls.
  • You appreciate your community more by understanding what makes your community work.
  • You help connect others to others.
  • You become a trusted resource.
  • Your life becomes more enriched.

Get out and network!  Great opportunities and experiences await you.  If you don’t know where to start, attend an upcoming First Fridays forum.  Our next one is on Friday the 13th (April 13) on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University.  We meet from 8-9 am.  And it is free.  We ask that participants register via Eventbrite.com to reserve their spot because seating is limited.