MATTOON — Entrepreneurs Mark and Pam King are new to social media, so they needed help developing the online presence of their relatively new business, Decals Plus Laser. They didn’t have to look far for help.
Mattoon’s Pam King said she turned to Get it Gone co-owner Chelsy Lorance of Oakland because they’re both grassroots members. Mattoon area business networking group. This group brings together small business owners to socialize, share information and hear from guest speakers on a variety of topics. Lorance, who is adept at social media, is one of the next guest speakers.
“It’s just a great group. Everyone is ready to help each other out. It’s been a real blessing for us,” King said.
Melissa Harden, owner of Studio 21 Photography in Mattoon, founded the Mattoon Area Business Networking group in 2019. Now it has a name group page on Facebook with over 400 members.
Harden said learning from a Champaign-area business networking group inspired her to start a similar effort in the Mattoon area, starting with a variety of meeting times and locations. She said that about six months ago they established a schedule of regular meetings of 6 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Elevate Entrepreneur Development Center at Cross County Mall in Mattoon.
“I really wanted to network with other businesses and see how we can help each other, and that really took off,” Harden said. “We are like a support system for businesses in the Mattoon area.”
Harden, who coordinates the meetings with the help of local entrepreneur Kari Jones and Amy Patrick, said he hosted guest speakers on branding, finance, marketing, troubleshooting and many other business topics.
Guest presentations take place between a meal, $10 per person, and networking time at Elevate. Harden said the meetings are held in an informal, one-on-one setting that complements the longstanding business support services offered by the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce.
Get it Gone co-owner Ryan Hayden said he and Lorance recently joined the Mattoon Chamber, after becoming members of those in Charleston and Oakland, to spread their names to those who hadn’t seen them on Facebook. He said they used posts and videos, including one that garnered 30,000 views, to promote their aisle-friendly bin rentals, waste removal and home cleaning services.
Hayden said he was a seasoned hauler in the waste removal industry, but had no experience as an entrepreneur before starting Get it Gone. Hayden said he appreciated the information shared by the Mattoon Area Business Networking group, including how to evaluate a company‘s services so their prices can be affordable while still covering service costs.
King said she and her husband have added to the technology of their Decals Plus Laser gift personalization business since its launch five years ago, including acquiring a vinyl cutter, sublimation printer and laser engraver. They can place custom images and messages on vinyl decals and lettering, flags, signs, magnets, banners, mugs, doormats, key chains, signs and more.
Decals Plus Laser has been a member of Mattoon Area Business Networking since its inception. King said they enjoyed being able to meet other entrepreneurs in a relaxed setting, being able to ask the guest speakers questions and “actually get the answers,” and learning about Elevate’s support services.
“I just thought if we could come together with other businesses and we could network with each other, that’s a plus for all of us,” King said of joining.
Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud