Last week, the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce held a mixer at Etc… Gourmet Kitchen in Montrose. An orange sunset, starburst lights and mountains of tempting homemade canapés and sweets created an enchanting atmosphere. Guests nibbled, sipped and socialized all while keeping in mind that this is an event meant to build one’s business. It’s like LinkedIn, but offline. It’s face-to-face networking disguised as a party.
While there, I was chatting with our Past President Steve Pierce. He mentioned a member who said the Chamber wasn’t doing much for him. Steve felt that was because he wasn’t making the most of his membership. That got me thinking and reading. In my research, I found an article posted by Mike Wolfe of the Mount Kisco Chamber of Commerce in New York. He believes that when it comes to getting the most out of your chamber of commerce, you’ve got to “Give If You Want To Get.” It requires being involved and being proactive. Wolfe suggests a few ways to maximize your chamber investment and we at the CV Chamber agree:
1. Go to mixers. The CV Chamber hosts monthly mixers where you can meet other people who are just like you. Meeting people or discussing ideas in a social environment builds friendships. As Steve Pierce says, “Whether you meet new people or build an existing relationship your business and personal goals benefit. Why? Because people deal with individuals they like. That’s the way our world turns.” People also refer businesses they’re familiar with. Keep in mind, you’re not just connecting with everyone at the chamber, you’re connecting with the people they know too.
Finally, bring your business card to every mixer and spread it around.
2. Participate in Chamber events. Pierce suggests that being involved in the planning and implementation of community events involves you with those individuals who are the leaders in the community. Leadership skills are often learned, not inherited. When you surround yourself with successful individuals you develop skills from watching and listening to others. And those skills generally equate to your success.
Consider joining a Chamber committee and sharing your expertise on a project that interests you. See the website for upcoming projects or call the office for details.
3. Take advantage of offers. We offer all our members the opportunity to display their promotional literature in our office. Residents drop in all the time, perusing the resources we provide. The CV Chamber also sends out a bi-weekly email bulletin promoting local events. We’d be happy to include your organization’s flyer. You must be proactive, however, by creating the flyer or writing the press release and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Follow up. When making connections through the Chamber, such as at mixers or ribbon-cuttings, be sure to follow up to help develop your relationship. Send the person an email, connect on LinkedIn, like them on Facebook, or give them a call. If you’re a social media user, share their content; they will likely return the favor. Consider inviting your new connection out for coffee at a local spot. This will help you get to know them and their business better and they’ll get to know you.
Making connections is the key to building your business. The Chamber of Commerce is here to help. Remember, you get out of it what you put into it.
Lisa Dupuy, executive director
CV Chamber of Commerce
3131 Foothill Blvd. ‘D’
La Crescenta, CA 91214