The Oakland County area has an abundance of opportunities for existing businesses and new ventures.
When the going gets rough, the entrepreneurial spirit gets creative and resourceful.
The Oakland Press has gathered upcoming events, news and links to help business owners and professionals succeed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

January business workshops offered

Business owners and entrepreneurs who need assistance are encouraged to attend seminars offered by the Oakland County Business Center. The workshops take place at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, west of Telegraph in Waterford Township. For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com/expand or call 248-858-0783.
Advanced Legal Series: Creating Beneficial Relationships with Customers, Contractors and Suppliers is 9 a.m. to noon, Jan. 8. This workshop analyzes the legal and “practical” aspects of creating mutually beneficial relationships with customers, suppliers and other third parties. This workshop is well suited for new and existing businesses. The cost is $40.
CEED Microloan Orientation is 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9. Many small businesses face obstacles when trying to obtain a business loan. This workshop is free, but registration is required.
Business Research: Feasibility to Expansion is 9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday, Jan. 9. For those starting a business or wanting to diversify market base. This workshop is presented by Oakland County Market Research and an Oakland County Public Library business reference librarian. This workshop is free, but registration is required.
Fundamentals of Writing a Business Plan is 9 a.m. to noon, Jan. 16. This workshop is $40.
Legal and Financial Basics for Small Business is 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, Jan. 29. This workshop outlines the key legal considerations for entrepreneurs operating Michigan businesses. This workshop is free, but registration is required.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Local downtowns offer fun Christmas shopping

KH Home is lit up in downtown Clarkston, Dec. 7. All that's missing is the snow.
If you want to find unique Christmas gifts, steer away from the mall and head for the quaint downtowns in the area. Clarkston is one of Michigan's most travelled downtowns with M-15 running through it til it ends at Dixie Highway.
The two-and-a-half block downtown features several shops, Rudy's Market and three restaurants.
One shop is Essence on Main, which features gourmet chocolate confections and local, organic and gourmet food products and gifts. Other shops include the Parsonage, florist and gift shop, Village Apparel, KH Home interior design studio, Clarkston Flower Shoppe, the Bird Feeder, Basketful of Yarn and the Country Store.

Restaurants include the Clarkston Union, the Union Woodshop and the Olde Village Grille. There's Mesquite Creek and Brioni Cafe & Deli, which are on the north end of town, closer to the I-75 interchange.
Also downtown, there's Lisa’s Confection Connection and the Village Bake Shoppe offering sweet treats. The Union General Store is next to the Clarkston Union, where shoppers can buy ice cream, gourmet cupcakes and other items. There is a free parking lot at the corner of Main Street, (M-15) and Washington. There's also parking by the Clarkston Union and behind the east side of the downtown. For more information, visit www.clarkston.org/

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Oakland County seeks standouts under 40

Nominations for the 2013 “Elite 40 Under 40” are open until Dec. 31. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson launched his Elite 40 Under 40 initiative last year to identify outstanding professional and executive leaders who have achieved excellence in their field before the age of 40. Individuals may submit nominations at www.AdvantageOakland.com. The winner will introduce Patterson at his 2013 State of the County address on Feb. 7, 2013.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Social media for business webinar offered Wednesday

Social Media Basics – Internet Marketing 101 webinar is 1 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12. It is offered by The Whole Brain Group of Ann Arbor. The free webinar provides information on how social media fits into a growing company’s overall strategy and goals. It provides an overview of social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google. Sign up at http://info.thewholebraingroup.com/internet-marketing-101-social-media-basics.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to excel, not repel at office holiday parties

Submitted by Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations,DeHartandcompany.com

Office holiday parties can be tricky. Talk too much about yourself or have too many cocktails, and the party can turn into a missed opportunity if not a disaster. It doesn’t have to be that way, says Andrew Sobel, coauthor of Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others. Go in armed with a few power questions, and you can leave the party having created and strengthened key relationships.

“The first step to not being the lonely loser is not drinking too much. Alcohol makes your inhibitions and common sense come tumbling down, and it vastly increases the chance that you will say or do something that’s at best silly or at worst truly regrettable. Second, don’t worry about being smart or clever—go prepared to ask thoughtful questions. Lots of them. The way to endear yourself to colleagues—and to get noticed by senior management—isn’t to talk more about yourself and your plans; it’s to ask engaging and inspiring questions.”

As Sobel shows in his book, the most underutilized strategy for building relationships, getting to know others more deeply, and exercising influence is asking what he calls power questions. These are questions that get to the heart of the issue. They help you engage with others more deeply. They uncover people’s passions. They give people new perspectives on their challenges. Power questions, at the most basic level, enable you to get to know others more deeply and ensure that you’re talking about meaningful issues.

If you want to connect more effectively with colleagues, deepen your existing relationships, and stick to the straight-and-narrow to stay out of trouble at your upcoming office holiday party, read on for a few power questions to help you out:

Questions about work. Don’t spend your time gossiping about coworkers and what’s been happening at the office. Instead, ask thought-provoking questions about how your colleagues feel about and experience their work. A few options:

1. What was your best day and worst day at work during this past year?
2. What was the most fulfilling experience you had this year?
3. What do you think is the best part of working here? The worst part?
4. What’s the most challenging part of your job?
5. How did you get your start? (This is an especially good question to ask your boss or a senior leader in your organization. It’s a simple but powerful way to draw someone out).  Questions about goals and challenges. If the foundation of relationships is trust, the engine that moves them forward is helping others reach their goals and confront their most challenging issues. You can do this, however, only if you understand what the other person’s needs are. So ask questions like:
6. So what’s on your agenda in your work for next year? Any particular projects or initiatives you’re focused on?
7. If you suddenly had a couple of extra hours per week outside of work, how would you spend them?
Questions about others’ passions. We have many activities going on in our lives, but usually we each harbor just a few true passions. If you can discover someone else’s passions, you’ll be able to connect much more effectively. Here’s how to do it:
8. Tell me about your favorites. What’s your favorite movie of all time? Favorite restaurant? Favorite book you’ve read in the last couple of years? Favorite way to relax?
9. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but have never been able to get around to it? A sport, a hobby, an event, a challenge, a trip, whatever?
10. As you think about next year, what are you most excited about—at work or at home?
11. What’s been the most gratifying experience you’ve had this year?
Questions to learn more about them as people. Ask people about themselves. The more you learn about them, the more you may find in common, and the more you’ll understand what makes them tick.
12. So, when you’re not shaking things up at the office, how do you like to spend your time?
13. When you were younger, how did your family spend the holidays? What are your plans this year?
14. If you hadn’t gone into (business, law, banking, medicine, teaching, etc.), what do you think you might have done?
15. Where did you grow up? What was that like?

“Of course,” notes Sobel, “there are also questions you shouldn’t ask and things you shouldn’t say. And it can never hurt to go over what not to say before heading out for your party.”

Here’s a sample of the most important questions not to ask:
Appearances. “Unless you know the other person very well, do not make remarks or give compliments to a member of the opposite sex about their appearance or dress,” cautions Sobel. “It’s not appropriate and it could be either misleading or at some level offensive. Compliment them instead on their abilities and accomplishments. Period.”
Intimate Details. “Don’t ask someone who isn’t a pretty close friend about intimate personal details,” says Sobel. “A general question like ‘Do you have a family?’ is okay, but not questions about girlfriends or boyfriends, divorce, dating, romance, sex, and so on. You get the idea. Everyone has slightly different tolerances and comfort around going into subjects like this, and you need to err on the side of caution.”
Tipsy Revelations. “Don’t have a few drinks and then confront someone abruptly with your pent-up emotions,” advises Sobel. “For example, don’t say, ‘You know, I just feel like you don’t like me very much!’ or, ‘I want to be your friend.’ At best it might be cute, but most likely it’ll be embarrassing for both of you.”
Light of Day. “Always apply the ‘light of day’ test to your behavior,” says Sobel. “If someone reported your conversation and behavior the next day to your boss, your family, or a client, would you be embarrassed in any way? How would they feel about pictures or videos of those moments if they were posted on Facebook?”

“For many people, the holiday office party can bring with it more anxiety and dread than good cheer,” says Sobel. “And there is really just no need for that. When you arrive with a few power questions ready to go, you can make the event not only enjoyable but you can turn it into a valuable relationship-building night that could benefit you for a long time to come.”

Sobel is coauthor along with Jerold Panas of Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others (Wiley, February 2012, ISBN: 978-1-1181196-3-1, $22.95).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bring own device workshop for employers

TROY - BYOD (bring your own device) workshop is 8 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5 at Michigan Schools and Government CU, 4555 Investment Drive, Troy. Experts will discuss privacy, security and data retrieval and how an organization can protect itself with workable policies and procedures. BYOD means that employees and contractors can use personal devices such as laptops, smartphones, home computers and tablets, to conduct an organization’s business. To request information, email theteam@troychamber.com/

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Celebrate Pontiac & Placemaking event is Dec. 5

Annual Celebrate Pontiac & Placemaking event is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 1 Lafayette, downtown Pontiac. It features a business expo, guest speakers and lunch. The speakers include: Arnold Weinfield, president and director Strategic Initiatives, Michigan Municipal League; Matt Gibb, Oakland County Deputy Executive; Leon Jukowski,City of Pontiac Mayor and Kevin Thompson, PRC 2nd Vice Chairperson & Chairperson of Economic & Business Development Committee.
Following the event, there will be a tour of select downtown Pontiac businesses and happy hour at select pubs starting at 3:30 p.m. Admission is $35 for professionals, $20 for students, community residents and senior (50+). Bring A Biz Buddy and receive a $5 discount. For more information, contact Dawnaree Demrose at Info@pontiacchamber.com or 248-622-8247. To purchase tickets, visit
http://pontiacchamber.ticketleap.com/pontiac-regional-chamber-2012-annual-event/