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Bangor Business Expo

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BANGOR – In this economy, the last thing you want your business to be is invisible. Many businesses will be getting their names out there, networking and learning new ways to maximize their presence at the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce's 2012 Business Expo on May 10.

“Everything centers around our 90 exhibitors that we're going to have set up that day,” said Karen Cole, the executive vice president of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce. “What we have surrounding all that is seminars with our guest speaker Rich Brooks.”

Cole said that there will also be a networking lounge set up with comfy couches, coffee and plenty of chances to trade business cards and elevator speeches with other like-minded business people and entrepreneurs. The lounge is sponsored by Husson University.

“The idea is for people to network, make connections with businesses, attend seminars, pick up business cards and meet new people and improve their business and broaden their connections,” said Cole.

They are also going to have a Tasters Showcase, where 15 area restaurants will be letting people sample their products and give them feedback.

“It's not intended as a full lunch,” joked Cole, “but we want people to taste test all the foods.”

There will also be a speed networking session hosted by Deb Neuman, where people can make connections at record speed.

But the headliner of the event is Rich Brooks, web marketing strategist, president of flyte: web design and internet marketing for small business. He will be offering two presentations on social media: getting the most out of your social media presence; and how to take your fans, followers and subscribers and turn them into paying customers.

Brooks is something of a social media guru, jumping onto the Twitter wagon while the 140 character website was still in its infancy – before Facebook became the social networking king.

“I tried it and it was stupid,” he said with a laugh. “I was only following three people and it seemed like I was subscribing to one guy.”

He actually gave up on Twitter for awhile. But after an Australian friend told him about how he put together a business deal with a man from Texas and a woman from China, Brooks was intrigued. He dove back into the website and began Tweeting. Brooks now has nearly 9,000 followers on Twitter.

“I'm active on [Twitter], and being active attracts an audience, unless you're being an idiot – and sometimes if you are being an idiot,” he said.

The seminars are geared toward two tiers of social media users: beginners and those with some experience.

“Most people have a Facebook business page or have a Twitter or YouTube account or started a blog, and they're not getting results. In my hour, I'll give them the best practices and insider tips on how to maximize their results,” said Brooks. “Basically, it's all about social conversation. How do you turn fans, followers into paying customers.… Small businesses can't be about brand awareness. It's important, but we need to make sure we're keeping the lights on.”

Brooks said he will show business owners how to utilize social media to get that financial return from their fans.

For more information about the Business Expo, visit http://www.bangorregion.com. You can also follow Richard Brooks on Twitter as @TheRichBrooks.

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