Local businesses prepare to take notes, swap cards at annual expo

gmartin@islandpacket.comJanuary 13, 2012 

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More than 2,000 members of the local business community are expected to attend this year's Business EXPO on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa.

It's the largest business networking event in Beaufort County, according to the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, which presents the expo.

Keynote speaker Sloane Kelley of Bluffton-based BFG Communications will deliver the seminar "Managing Social Media Without Letting It Manage You" at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

According to chamber spokeswoman Charlie Clark, 88 percent of chamber members use social media to market their businesses and more than 30 percent use Twitter, but they could benefit from Kelley's tips on how to maximize that experience.

"Businesses are at a point where they see the value in some social media activity, but I think there's a lot that can overwhelm them, whether they're big or small," Kelley said. "I want to show them how to cut through the clutter and have compelling content that's not just reaching them but engaging them."

Tuesday's events are only open to chamber members. The public may attend for free beginning at noon Wednesday.

Kelly Presnell of Hilton Head Hospital said her facility participates in the event every year, and attendance seems to grow at each expo.

"We like being able to promote the wellness and prevention opportunities we provide," Presnell said. "We offer a lot of work-site wellness programs."

Presnell added that the expo should give her an opportunity to raise awareness of the hospital's new mobile app.

For Karen Cully of Harbour Health Solutions, the expo has been instrumental in getting her business established since she relocated it to the area in 2010.

"This has been a great way for us to get out there in the community," she said. "The more you get involved in something like this, the more you get out of it."

Cully added she was looking forward to Kelley's seminar.

"Anyone who thinks they won't be able to benefit from social media has their head buried in the 20th century," she said.

Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.

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