All posts tagged Networking

Mixers, More Than Just Networking


Business After Hours Mixers have long been a main stay of Chambers of Commerce. These short gatherings, just at the end of the workday, include refreshments, a few door prizes and a mix of other chamber members. While those who attend may vary depending on a mixers host, the location and scheduling, there are members who frequently attend and those who never do. If you are the latter, we’d like to suggest you consider a few of the reasons you might want to give a try.

Relationships – Mixers are hosted by businesses to invite others to visit their location, sometimes to celebrate an accomplishment, or perhaps just to give exposure to products and services. Either way, attendance is a show of support that is always appreciated. When you visit a member’s event, they understand that you are busy but still willing to show them support with your attendance.

Information Gathering – We often think we know our community, but in the busyness of our own lives, we often miss the changes taking place. From new staff members to significant investments in products, services or infrastructure, information can often best be gathered through a visit, and a mixer can be a unique opportunity to get inside a business.

Preparation for Your Mixer – You may not be planning it now but hosting a mixer might be something you want to do in the future. It’s best to attend other mixers to get a sense of what you’d want to do as a host. Just like any social invitation, those who you have supported are most likely to support you.

There are several mixers still planned for 2019, each an opportunity for you to test out these suggestions. One of those mixers is hosted by FLEX and will be held in the courtyard of the Venango Chamber on August 22. FLEX members promise to help you build better relationships with local young professionals, learn about how to better engage them, and will set a great example for your next get together. We hope to see you there!

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s August 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

The Importance of Relationship Building


By Casey McVay

Relationships are one of the most important aspects of living a good life. Yet, often times, we don’t value the conversations we have or pay close enough attention to those around us. What I have learned in my young life is relationships help us when we reach the proverbial fork in the road.

When we face challenges or opportunities, our relationships, our network and connections, personal and professional, guide us to choose which path to take. We shouldn’t always make decisions independently, so when we need help seeing what is best for us, we can rely on those closest to us.

Many important aspects of networking help build these connections and relationships, such as having a smart conversation starter or your “elevator speech,” which I remind you should not be boring like elevator music or so rehearsed that it feels forced. However, the simplest of tips are the essential ones, too: Be yourself, be open, inquire, and be generous.

  • Be yourself. What’s not to like? You’re awesome. Don’t sweat trying to be anything but who you are and people will appreciate your authenticity.
  • Be open. Not an open book, but open. When we are “all about business,” we tend to come across cold, so shake it off, and don’t fear revealing something somewhat personal – it lets the other person know you’re real.
  • Inquire. Don’t forget “it takes two” in a relationship. Here are some great, easy to remember questions to ask: How do you like working at your company? How’d you get into that? Have any tips for _____?
  • Be generous. Once you have made a first connection, the best way to keep it going is to be a resource for the other person. No need to overdo it here, though, but providing something interesting or helpful to them, a referral or link to information, can make the difference in building a stronger relationship. 

Little, simple things like these can add up to big, amazing long-lasting and reliable relationships, and living a really good life with great people around you.

Photos from the FLEX Annual Meeting in October, taken by Chett DeLong

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) June 2019 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

Making Your Mixer Memorable


Mixer at Deer Creek Winery

In the last two issues of VenangoWorks!, we’ve shared why mixers remain a valuable opportunity to bring members of the business community together and then how to go about planning to host an event at your business.

Now, we’d like to encourage you to consider how you can make your mixer as unique as your business. At one time, mixers were considered to be the like of a clique, getting together just to “hob nob” and share drinks after work. In the last decade, we have seen these events take on a very different flavor, each uniquely planned by the business or organization hosting. 

While some things just seem to work well, like inviting people to stop by from 5 to 7 p.m., before retiring to home for the evening; everything else is open to your designs.  They can be held inside or out and include elaborate feasting, light appetizers, or desserts.  While many hosts opt to serve beer and wine, it is not necessary to serve alcohol to have a successful event.

Mixer at Deer Creek Winery

So, why not plan for how you can make a memory around your business and plan a business after hours that will keep your business top of mind for months or even years to come?

The real key is to get excited about your business and help us tell people why now is the time to visit you.  Are you celebrating an accomplishment? Are you a new business or simply have something new to share, like a remodel or new products? Some of the most memorable mixers have included a theme.  Who could forget the Hawaiian shirts and limbo contest more than a decade ago?  And the annual joint Christmas mixer at Cross creek each December makes it on our calendar months in advance, a sure sign of the upcoming holiday.

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s April 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.

Why Business After Hours Mixers Remain Relevant


“It’s our human-to-human links that make the most meaningful moments of our lives,” suggests Joshua Cooper Ramo, author of The Seventh Sense and The Age of the Unthinkable.

While in many ways it seems we are more connected than ever, our busy schedules and screen time are keeping us from meeting face to face with businesses in our communities.  It is in meeting that we can most effectively collaborate, celebrate, and even commiserate.  But let’s get serious—who really wants to go to another meeting? 

We are encouraged to “grow our network,” understanding there is a lot to be said for who you know when trying to get things done. 

The chamber mixer model has long provided an efficient template for bringing people together, specifically within the business community. We believe there is great value in meeting, especially when it provides the chance to meet new people and businesses, or reacquaint ourselves with someone we haven’t talked to in a while.

So, what makes for the perfect chamber business after hours mixer?  The same thing that works for any great get together, an enthusiastic host and an invitation.  Still not convinced?  Check out Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering. Parker offers a decoder ring for the secret forces at work when we gather for business, crises, or celebration.

And remember, “many of the best things in life happen when people gather,” said Chris Anderson, owner and curator of TED.

To schedule a mixer, contact the Chamber at (814) 676-8521 or chamber@venangochamber.org.

Stay tuned next month for an article with tips on how to host a successful mixer.

How to Crush at Your Company Party


by Kurtis Bell, Service Master by Bell

TisOffice Party the season for the dreaded company party. Do you go? What do you wear? These are all big questions that weigh on the mind this time of year. Here’s my guide to being a rock star at your company’s Christmas party.

  1. Go! It is hard to have a good time at an event if you never go. This is a good opportunity to build relationships with people at work that you may not get to interact with much. You could meet the person who is the biggest thorn in your side at the office and get to know them better.
  2. Don’t “talk shop.” The last thing that most want to discuss while sipping their mulled wine is data entry or TPS reports. Talk sports, talk about how you haven’t done any of your Christmas shopping, or even ask how the food or drink is. Just don’t discuss work at the company party.
  3. Hang out by the food. If you’re an introverted person, this will be a key for you. Everyone will walk by the food tables or the bar. It’s easy to strike up conversation in those areas.
  4. Be friendly. If you happen to be an extrovert, take a look around and see if someone is nervously staring at the floor or their drink. Head on over and strike up a conversation with this person. You could help turn a terrible experience in to a night to remember for someone.
  5. Say “thank you”. As someone who organizes a company Christmas party yearly, I can not stress how much of an impact this can have. I remember each year who takes a minute to express their gratitude and who shows up only to eat, drink, and slip out the side door.

Hopefully this helps you make the best of your company party this year! Thanks once again to those of you who take the time to read my ramblings month after month. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

 

 

This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s December 2018 edition of the VenangoWorks! Newsletter.