I’m constantly inspired by the many people I come in contact with in how they’re dealing with the uncertain economy. Linked In and Facebook continue to be great sources of networking and reconnecting of people from elementary school on up.  It’s been fun to engage with “kids” from high school and share the ins and outs of life. 


I recently connected with a former swimmer from WPHS on FaceBook– Dr. George Stanley who is a Radiologist.  I’ve known him and his darling wife Suzanne for many years but have been out of touch, so I decided to drop by their offices.


Walking into the offices of Dr. Stanley at University Diagnostic Institute in Winter Park, you’d think that the economy was in full swing and never better. His energy is contagious and he’s excited with what he’s doing in his practice after all of these years.  (He also shared with me that he just received his MBA from UCF; and graduated with a 4.0 GPA!) He shared how he’s concerned about the many health facilities that have come across bad times and are closing.  Then we talked about his desire to jump start the businesses around him, which in turn would help his own.


He shared with me that he’s facilitating meetings like crazy. For instance, he’s having a celebration in honor of his graduation and will be bringing many professionals together on a Sunday afternoon to network.  He’s also set on his schedule a few lunches and dinners every week to bring potential customers together so they can meet. He’s showing up at all sorts of events and spending more time getting to know how he can help THEIR businesses, and always makes sure to get their card and he follows up by email or a note in the mail.  Of course even though he’s gotten into the online social networking kicking and screaming, it is a part of his plan, as it was how we reconnected. Even old dogs can learn new tricks, and he’s living proof!


Another cool act of generosity I’ve witnessed is Dr. Andrew Hull, a chiropractor in Winter Park.  I brought him some art work to sell from a friend which he is now displaying, among other artists from the Central Florida area.  He feels that he has the space and wants to help as many other entrepreneurs that are out there, and so his waiting area is now splattered with different artist’s paintings.  He’s got the space, and has the ability to help others, so why not? I love that mentality!


Another new associate is Linda Raines who owns a cool little all natural shop called “The Nature’s Garden” in Maitland.  I dropped by her shop recently and found her so charming, I suggested that perhaps we hold some networking events there and she was completely open and excited about the idea.  It’s a different atmosphere from a restaurant and coffee, because you’re surrounded by health food products.  As we all know, health is becoming more and more of a trend, so places like this are natural to use as a gathering place on off hours.


Even entrepreneurs who have been settled and haven’t had to reach out to any new customers are getting back in the action and are generating ideas one after another! After spending some time chatting with David Rimback, of Insurance Benefits Solutions, he’s got plans to launch a local business/finance column that will help business owners with their personal and corporate insurance.  He keeps close tabs on what’s happening in the daily news in order to inform his customers and wants to be a good resource to them.


I have found in many of these cases, that each of them had events to invite me to, people for me to network with, as I did with them.  I’ve learned that by keeping my Blackberry up to date of all of the business contacts that I have accumulated is wonderful to be able to whip out a few numbers so people can contact friends or associates quickly, and I don’t have to wait to get back to my office.  Definitely trade cards and insert the information and a date to follow up immediately!  Additionally, having my day timer (I still use the paper kind since I’m visual) with me, always ensures that I know my calendar and can RSVP when I’m given an invitation. 


It just seems there is so much energy “out there” among entrepreneurs, but it really does feel like right after 9/11 in NYC. People came together and helped one another and supported one another and there was a sense of “we’re all in this together and we WILL get through it! ”.  I get this sense about Central Florida entrepreneurs now, and it’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur here. People are reaching out, collaborating with others, facilitating meetings for their customers and doing what they can to help.


I’m proud to be a part of this exciting and amazing community of entrepreneurs.  We’re pretty darn awesome!