Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Social Networking Just Fun and Relevant for Business?

Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes with me recently is well aware that Social Networking is a hot topic for me. And those who have known me for long know that if I can find a way to use technology, well...I'm all over that! So now the challenge becomes for me and for you, is this time well spent?

What I know is that in a few weeks I have seen my networks grow exponentially. So yeh, it's been fun. While I watch T.V. in the evening I watch friends, family (kid in college) and chamber members posting messages about what they're up to. But here's the cool thing. I also see a tweet from Congressman Thompson announcing his support of the Secret Ballot Protection Act, important to preserving workers rights and protecting business in PA. In can also check into a networking sight for those involved in the pursuit of Main Street designation for Oil City,

Now for those who really just want to watch T.V. I get it. You might not have time for this, but if you're with me, tweet me, skype me or invite me to be your friend!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Trade Show Success! It can be yours.

On Saturday I took a field trip to Meadville to visit Charlie and the gang at the Meadville Chamber's First Annual Trade Show and got far more than I bargained for. The show took place in the Meadville Downtown Mall, typically a rather quiet venue. It was anything but on Saturday. Despite a bit of anxiety over participation a few months ago, the show boasted participation of more than 85 businesses. As one vendor told me, had no one other than the exhibitors attended this show was a great success. Most businesses had at least 2 associates, which allowed for them to take shifts visiting the other booths. Often small businesses are too busy to get out and visit other businesses in the community.

Several Venango Chamber members participated in the Meadville Show. These very forward thinking businesses understand how important it is to get out and show thier services and visit thier customers.

The bonus for me was discovering that the mall had several stores that I didn't know about. On April 24th the Venango Works Trade Show will be held at Cranberry Mall. Why not join us as an exhibitor or a visitor to see what great things you can discover.

Friday, February 20, 2009

What's so great about the Annual Dinner

Everything! The Chamber's Annual Dinner, like all of the other events each year, is preceded by months of planning. Long before the details fall together the location must be secured and the date confirmed. About three months prior to the dinner the call is put out for nominations for Citizen of the Year. A month or so later a special meeting is convened where the applications are reviewed and the choice is made as to who will be honored. Having witnessed this process several times now, I can attest that each year there are more than a few worthy nominations. Once this choice is made things begin to fly!

Now two days after the Dinner it is fun to think back on what a week ago had us jittery. Would we get everyone's reservation entered correctly? Would each attendee be happy with their table companions? Would Dr. Pilewski arrive safely from Florida? Would all of our awards be perfectly inscribed? The list goes on...

Well, for those who were fortunate to have joined us, you know that in fact it all worked out perfectly. The details, like weather, food and seating offered little challenge if any.

Dr. Pilewski was at the top of his game. Everyone was delighted to meet his family. He accepted his award with complete grace and made us all laugh a bit. We honored our committed board members Frank Gill, Frank Pankratz and Joe Pastor. We honored Amanda Williams as our "Superstar" Volunteer of the Year. And we delighted in the opportunity to see so many of our faithful chamber members, who support as year after year.

And so it begins, the journey toward next year's event.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Website Progress

I know, I know...I've been talking about our new Chamber website for months now, but I promise it will be worth the wait. In the last week we've had the opportunity to review the working site. I am more confident than ever that the Venango Chamber website will be among the best chamber sites out there. While much of the site will have similar content to what your accustomed to hearing about from the chamber, this site will encourage us to be far more dynamic in our information and will encourage feedback from our members and community.

We're excited to be adding a few new social media applications, such as twitter and linkedin. If these are new to you, join us for our next brown bag lunch on February 11th. We'll clue you in.

Perhaps one of the best parts of the new site is the membership directory. In addition to the information members have included in the past, members will be featured on the site's homepage, with logos and pictures. While we encourage members to have their own websites, this will provide an online presence for those who do not. So, mark your calendar for March 11th, when the waiting will be over.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Meeting Members

Life at the Chamber is ever changing and certainly never predictable. Here at the Venango Chamber we keep a tight schedule and live by the calendar, but anyone in Chamberland knows that our members (and potential members who are everyone else) come first!

Tabitha had done a fabulous job of arranging for me to meet with several members this week and despite the incredible continuing snowfall all week, I was able to meet with every one of them. A few came to my office and for others I ventured out. Everyone I met with this week is passionate about their business and you'll have the chance to read about what they're doing in the next few newsletters.

I continue to be amazed by the new things I learn about businesses in our community. I believe that if each of our chamber members would just plan to meet with another member once a week (even once a month) to get to know them better and find out about their business, we would see amazing things happen in our region. How would you decide who to meet? Use your Chamber Directory, printed or online. There are over 400 to chose from!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Friday Already?

Some Fridays seem to arrive faster than others and while I expect that for most people that's a good thing, for me this is a week when I could use an extra day or two. With the end of this week we face the end of the month and all the things that entails. At the Chamber we wasted no time in scheduling meetings for various projects, committees and events each with it's own "to-do" list. 2009 may seem to have just begun but our calendar is full.

If you need some inspiration to get you going, stop by the chamber or be sure to take the time to read your newsletter as soon as it arrives. We'll be happy to fill you in on all of our plans and if you'd like, we can find a special place for you to join in the fun!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Networking in Any Weather

Can we all say snow? It is another blustery day in Venango County and the kids get an extra 2 hours in bed, but nothing stops a dedicated networker! I've just returned from a networking breakfast that I wouldn't have considered missing. I have learned from the other similar days in recent months that there will always be a faithful bunch that will attend regardless of the elements, even on Christmas and New Year Eves.

Often the cry of small businesses is "I'm just too busy" as an excuse for not attending networking functions or taking the time to be proactive in meeting customers face to face. I'm more convinced than ever that relationships are key to longevity in business and the opportunities for networking on your own terms abound. While the meeting I attended this morning is for those who are most dedicated building a loyal network, requiring a significant commitment of time, the Chamber offers many options that require only a small investment time. And if time truly is just too short to attend scheduled events, we can help you fit your networking into the perfect hours for you.

As we continue to explore the world of social media, you'll see that there is no hour of the day, nor location that is not an option for connecting with others. Those who are tech savy know what I mean. For those who are not, it is easier that ever to learn and almost everything available online can be translated back to pen and paper if that is your tool of choice, so...don;t let a little snow keep you down. Make a great connection today!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Every Newsletter a New Connection

It's that time again, as we scurry to publish the monthly "Business Connector". We breathe a sigh of relief each month as the last words are finalized and the newsletter is delivered to the printer, but then it begins again.

This month, as most, I met with newer chamber members to learn more about their businesses so that I can share their story with you. I continue to be in awe of the work done by our small business owners, working so had to serve others. This month is no different, as I write about a restaurant, a mobile welder and a retail paint store, all with a passion and pride for the work they do.

I hope you'll take the time to relax for a few minutes and read the newsletter when it arrives, and if you've neglected the opportunity to read the last few, sit a little longer and explore them as well. I think you'll be surprised at the business connections waiting for you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trade Show Success

I had the pleasure of spending the weekend with several of our board members at the Health, High Tech and Industry Trade Show. Patrick was there for Williams Insurance all weekend! While there were not many businesses set up nor thousands of visitors to the Show, it was an excellent opportunity to get face to face with many chamber and community members. This was also a great way to test the waters for what we'll be inviting member businesses to do in April when the Venango Works Trade show is held.

We (Patrick and I) learned first hand that if you are up on your feet and available, people will stop and find out what you're up to. A little conversation often lead to the chance to talk about our members and match customers to businesses that could take care of them. At one point we laughed at the number of visitors that had collected around our tables to visit. It looked like the start of a chamber mixer. So, at the end of the day my legs ached but there was great satisfaction in knowing business is alive and well in Venango County!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chamber Month

Ashley just called to my attention that it has been a very long since I've blogged so I'm going to try to do better. We certainly have been busy here at the Chamber, but I want you to know that every day we are working hard to explore how to better serve our members, exploring new benefits and programs, while reviewing those already in place. One of the areas I've spent alot of time researching and discussing with others ways to encourage local spending. What seems like a simple thing is not. We are all challenged by how to most effectively support local business while meeting our personal needs of convenience and cost. Businesses face additional issues that may restrict thier ability to use local vendors. What we know here at the Chamber is that often local businesses are easily overlooked when they do have so much to offer. Sorry, but I have to go! Chamber mixer tonight at Tomorrow's Dentistry Today. Hope to see you there!