All posts tagged Networking

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

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.

A Global Manager’s Thoughts on Networking

by Kurtis Bell, ServiceMaster by Bell

What-is-networkingMany of us focus on networking at after hour events, happy hours, or expos; but one place we may be overlooking is within our own organizations. In a recent conversation with Chamber Board member Alan McBride, we discussed this very topic. While networking locally can be very helpful in connection you with like minded people and organizations, networking within your organization can open up a variety of opportunities you might not ever consider.

Locally, networking might open you up to contributing to an organization via membership or even a role in leadership. Non-profits rely on dedicated groups of volunteers to make things happen. Your involvement in such a group could even help increase your visibility and build depth and breadth in your network. I have experienced this first hand and can attest to the quality and quantity of great connections I have made through volunteering with non-profits.

One venue for networking that many do not often consider is networking within your own organization or company. Within your organization, networking can provide a great opportunity to connect with others in similar situations who could help you or be helped by you. This connection is often mutually beneficial and can lead to future cooperative efforts as well.

In talking with Alan, he summed this all up very well. I’ll close this month with his thoughts on networking.

“Networking opportunities can include ways to develop both on a personal and professional basis. By connecting with someone else, you can gain a better understanding of how that person can help you grow, develop and learn new skillsets. Networking within your own company and locally can not only help support your own development, but you can help others develop to an event greater extent as well. “

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


Making Connections & Getting Involved

42110566_1966387830115893_3853154949542182912_n“The mission of all nonprofits boils down to trying to change the world for good,” said Trenton Moulin, executive director of Bridge Builders Community Foundations (BBCF). Trenton spoke at the FLEX Speaker Series in September about running a nonprofit, networking, and serving on a board.

Trenton is one of the young professionals who helped form FLEX in 2007 and has gained much experience in the 11 years since. As executive director of BBCF, the community foundation serving Clarion, Forest, Jefferson, and Venango Counties, Trenton knows the ins and outs of running a nonprofit and spends much of his time building relationships and serving our community.

While Trenton reports to not just one Board of Trustees, but also four affiliate boards of directors, he knows the importance of having engaged community members at the board table. He shared advice for reporting to a board of directors, as well as tips for building connections and finding your own fit on a board at a local organization.

“The hardest part of starting a relationship is striking up a conversation,” he said. “Most people want to talk, but don’t know where to start, so you need to break down those barriers.”

When it comes to building connections and networking, some benefits include raising your profile, helping others, increasing confidence, and even gaining lifelong friends. These connections can lead to opportunities in your professional life, something Trenton referred to as “leadership through connection.”

When ready to further the connections you built and join a board of directors, Trenton recommends finding one that is a right fit for you by making sure the organization is something you care about, understanding what you’re getting into, and asking questions about their mission and values.

“You learn a lot along the way, but don’t be afraid to get out there and start making connections and getting involved in our community,” said Trenton.

We appreciate Trenton taking time to provide us with such great advice. We plan to have an event for the FLEX Speaker Series every few months—stay tuned for details on our next one!

This article was published in the FLEX FYI – part of the October 2018 edition of the VenangoWorks! Newsletter.