Even those gatherings that seem to have no purpose other than getting together serve a purpose. They are important for establishing and maintaining business relationships that produce long and short-term benefits for a regional economy and for individual businesses. The interaction of people within the business community, as well as cross-sector contacts for business people with their counterparts in the government, social services, education, clergy and neighborhoods is, in many ways, its own reward. Such gatherings reduce transactional friction, increase trust, enhance in-region commerce, foster talent mobility and spread ideas. For chambers, “networking” is not a by-product; the network often is the product.
Traditional holiday-style gatherings are becoming less and less prevalent in the chamber movement, but business socializing related to purposeful gatherings is a constant. Programs like business-after-hours and Lead and Referral Groups
are constructed solely for the purpose of advancing individual business success. An opening day chamber event at a ballpark provides a backdrop of civic support for a community asset, while also engaging business people in a shared experience. Darcy Rezac
, former CEO of the Vancouver Board of Trade, has written extensively on the importance of this purposeful networking. Sometimes, the purpose for a networking event is simply to raise money for the chamber. A Derby Day party or similar event will only continue to make money if the perceived networking value remains strong to potential participants. Thus, such events come and go in chamber calendars.
Break the Ice
Non-Member Event Attendance
Chambers implement various methods of integrating non-member attendance at events. In general, chambers charge more for non-members to attend events, and some events are members-only. Some chambers charge $10 more per event for non-members. Other chambers charge more for non-members to attend their Small Business Seminars ($30 for members; $50-60 for non-members). Comparatively, other chambers offer a “member price” and a “general admission” price that ranges 25-75% higher. Some chambers offer members-only events such as a Business Expo where members can participate with booths and business promotions (and non-members can still attend, but not exhibit). Yet, many chambers open membership luncheons and Business After Hours events as promotions to experience the chamber and potentially join. Non-members do not sponsor the luncheons, but often all local businesses are invited regardless of current membership. Typically, non-members pay a higher rate to attend luncheons. Many chambers view the guests as potential members and encourage their own members to invite non-members to Business After Hours events. In general, many chambers charge both member and non-member fees for events, and only members can sponsor specific events.
Examples of Chamber Networking Events
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Coffee, Breakfast & Lunch Events
Women's Networking Events
| Events and Programs
| Networking EventsLast updated: 10/2/2018