All posts tagged relationships

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.

When Furious, Get Curious

When Furious, Get CuriousWritten by Ashley Cowles, Be Here Program Manager 

“When furious, get curious.” This quote from Paul Saginaw, co-founder of Zingerman’s Deli out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, can be applied to multiple situations, including thriving in Venango County.

What started as Zingerman’s Delicatessen in 1982, has become 10 different businesses over the years, including a bake house, catering and events business, creamery, coffee shop, and more. The business has eight guiding principles, such as great food, great service, a great place to work, and strong relationships.

Much can be learned from such a successful and growing business, including the meaning behind the quote at the beginning of this article.

In an interview with Business Insider, co-founder Saginaw said: “The assumption that others are out to get us, that something bad happened because of others’ ill will or malice, rarely makes for anything productive. Learning to breathe deeply, get grounded, and be sensitive to others’ suffering can help get us back to a more productive place.”

Is there something about Venango County that makes you furious? Maybe you think a nonprofit organization should be using their money on different projects, a specific business should be downtown, or a community leader isn’t making the right decisions.

It can be easy to get frustrated with these things and assume they happen because people don’t have the community’s best interest in mind. As a result, you may decide to share your opinion to friends and family or on social media where the whole community can see.

While it’s important to speak out, we encourage you to also be curious and productive. To be curious means to be eager to know or learn something. Rather than remain furious  not do anything, here are ideas for learning more and taking action:

Do your research

Before forming an opinion about something you think should be happening, do research to see if it already exists. We live in a smaller area, but there is a lot going on and it’s hard to stay on top of everything.

Ask questions

Part of doing research involves asking questions like: Does this already exist? Who is making the decisions? Why is it done this way?

Meet with community leaders

The best people to ask questions to are the movers and shakers in our area getting things done. The county commissioners, city councilmen, chamber directors, and other community leaders know what exists or why things are done certain ways.

You also have the opportunity to ask these leaders how you can impact change in positive ways. How can you help them be better at what they do, or how can you develop into these leadership positions yourself?


The best way to get an understanding of what is here and how things are done is to volunteer for local organizations or events. If you aren’t happy with the flowers chosen to beautify downtown Oil City, volunteer for the Oil City Main Street Program’s Safe, Clean & Green Committee. If you would prefer the 5K during Applefest was run differently, help out at the Franklin YMCA during registration. If you don’t agree with the speed limits in your neighborhood, attend a city council meeting or call or write to the mayor or city councilmen.

These are just a few examples of ways to volunteer and get involved, which can help you get informed and have a say.

Fill the void

After doing research and learning why things are done certain ways or what exits, there still may be a void that needs filled. This is your opportunity to step up and become an active community member! Whether it’s planning an event, starting a business, or becoming an ambassador for our region, it takes a whole community to create change.

So, how will you get curious?

(This article was originally published on the Be Here initiative’s website. Visit for related content)

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