Blog - Cambridge Chamber of Commerce

The holiday season is not only a time for festive decorations and gift-giving but also an opportunity to foster camaraderie and build connections in the workplace and at industry functions. 

 

Work-related events during this time of the year provide a unique setting for networking, as colleagues and potential clients come together to celebrate the spirit of the season. These gatherings, which can take place right into the New Year, offer more than just a break from the daily grind — they create a platform for professionals to connect on a personal level, share experiences, and build lasting relationships.

 

“You’re there to start building relationships because people prefer to do business with others they know, like and trust,” says Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Greg Durocher.  “It’s not about being the salesperson, because you’re not selling a product or service, it’s about selling yourself and building a relationship to the point where people want to start doing business with you.”

 

One of the key benefits of networking during holiday season workplace events is the relaxed atmosphere. This informal setting allows professionals to get to know each other beyond their job titles and responsibilities. 

 

Additionally, holiday season work events often include activities that promote team building. From festive games to group activities, these events create opportunities for collaboration and teamwork. Working together in a different context can reveal new aspects of colleagues' personalities and skills, leading to a deeper understanding of each other's strengths and abilities.

 

Also, networking during holiday events provides a chance for professionals to express gratitude and appreciation. 

 

Embracing the festive spirit of the season, professionals can build meaningful relationships that extend beyond the workplace, creating a supportive and collaborative professional network that lasts throughout the year.

 

Here are some tips to make the most of business networking at this time of year:

 

Be Approachable:

If you want people to know you’re approachable, remember that body language is important so try not to cross your arms and legs, or use objects (drinks or plates of food) as potential barriers. Also, maintain positive eye contact and lean in slightly to let others know you are interested and engaged.

 

Stay Professional:

While the atmosphere may be festive, remember that you are still in a professional setting. Maintain a level of professionalism in your interactions, even in a more relaxed environment. How you greet people at these events can impact their perception of you. A warm and firm handshake, or a light touch on the arm or shoulder can create an instant bond. 

 

Prepare An Elevator Pitch:

Be ready to succinctly describe your business or professional background. A well-crafted elevator pitch can make a lasting impression during brief encounters.

 

Dress for Success:

Wear appropriate attire. Always remember this is a business event. Festive and stylish is great, but flashy or too revealing can be unprofessional.

 

Limit Your Smartphone Use:

If you can, leave your smartphone at home, or try to keep it out of sight. Constantly checking emails and texts while talking with fellow partygoers can send the wrong message.

 

Update Your Business Cards:

Ensure your business cards are up-to-date and bring plenty with you. The festive season can be a great time to exchange contact information.

 

Express Gratitude:

Send personalized holiday cards or emails to your professional contacts, expressing gratitude for the collaboration and partnership throughout the year. It's a thoughtful way to strengthen relationships.

 

Set Realistic Goals:

Set specific, achievable networking goals for each event. Whether it's connecting with a certain number of people or initiating conversations with key individuals, having a plan can make your networking efforts more focused.

 

Join Online Networking Events:

If in-person events are limited, consider participating in virtual networking events. Many organizations and platforms offer online gatherings where you can connect with professionals from the comfort of your home or office.

 

Utilize Social Media:

Share holiday greetings and updates on your professional social media profiles. Engage with your network online by commenting on their posts or sharing relevant content.

 

Follow Up:

After the event, follow up with new contacts promptly. Send a personalized message expressing your pleasure in meeting them and suggesting ways to stay in touch.

 

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Navigating the intricacies of entrepreneurship and professional growth in the business world can be a daunting journey filled with challenges, uncertainties, and a constant need for adaptability. 

 

In this ever-evolving business environment, the mentor-mentee relationship can be a powerful and crucial catalyst for success and personal development, which is why our Chamber Circles program has been created. 

 

The program – one for women and another for entrepreneurs - offers business leaders a platform to not only expand their network but explore potential partnerships with peers as they advance their own growth both professionally and personally. 

 

The Chamber has enlisted a group of talented business mentors for each ‘Circle’ which consists of between four and five people who will discuss pre-selected topics once a month.

 

“Chamber Circles is a great way for business leaders to not only tap into our mentors’ knowledge and professional connections but can lead to networking opportunities with their peers as well as give participants the chance to cultivate their own skills and strengths,” says Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Greg Durocher. “The monthly sessions will provide these business leaders with some added tools they need to enhance their businesses.”

 

He says the Chamber Circles for Women stream was created after the Chamber was approached by some female members requesting an opportunity to learn and collaborate with other women business leaders like themselves. The second stream, Chamber Circles for Entrepreneurs, is available to all business leaders.

 

“Having both streams provide a large cross-section of the business community the chance to thrive and succeed,” says Greg.

 

The program touches on a variety of topics, including bringing creativity into your work role, finding new ways to manage yourself and others, how to give and receive effective feedback, as well as a look at resiliency and the importance to continuously evolve. 

 

“These are topics we feel are very relevant to operating a business in today’s economic climate and will give these leaders an even better foundation,” says Greg.

 

Click here to learn more about joining Chamber Circles

 

A few reasons why joining Chamber Circles can assist your business:

Guidance Through Experience

By sharing their experiences, mentors provide invaluable insights that can help mentees avoid pitfalls and make informed decisions. 

 

Accelerated Learning Curve

Instead of relying solely on trial and error, mentees can leverage the wisdom of their mentors to gain a deeper understanding of industry intricacies, best practices, and strategies for success. 

 

Building a Network

Building a robust network is an invaluable asset, often leading to collaborations, partnerships, and a broader spectrum of career opportunities.

 

Confidence and Emotional Support

Having a mentor provides a reliable source of emotional support and encouragement. This emotional support fosters confidence, helping mentees navigate uncertainties with a positive mindset.

 

Encouraging Innovation

Mentors not only guide mentees within existing frameworks but also encourage innovative thinking. This dynamic approach to problem-solving is essential in an era where innovation is often the key differentiator between success and stagnation.

 

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Our Chamber of Commerce over the years has not only learned how to pivot, but how to address the concerns, issues and needs of the small and medium-sized businesses in our community.

 

The events of the last few years have only strengthened our reason for being. We not only champion small and medium-sized businesses but are a source of information, guidance, and the most powerful connector there is.

 

We have now taken that connection to a new level thanks to ‘The Link’, a place where YOU, an SME business owner/manager can source solutions in a one-stop shop atmosphere. And since this is Small Business Week (Oct. 15-21), it's very important to always remember and celebrate the contributions SMEs make to our economy.

 

For the last seven months, our Chamber has undertaken this huge project (for us). To say we’re excited is a dramatic understatement because for you, we’ve invested and created an exciting, inspirational space that will not only knock your socks off but provide a place where you can share your troubles and find connections to help you navigate those issues that sometimes surface for every business.

 

At The Link you can source HR solutions, legal forms and information, access grant writing, and discover business services of all types that help you streamline, or even eliminate operational costs, and yes, of course, we also have direct access to financial resources only for business.

 

Another aspect to this renovation project is the creation of additional meeting spaces. We can now offer two boardrooms, one that can seat more than 20 and the other between eight and 10, plus a more informal meeting space for five and a private soundproof meeting “pod” also for up to five people. As well, have casual conversation areas and provide a wonderful coffee service.

 

The Link is modern, accessible, and a great place to have a coffee and share conversation all contained in little over 2,220-square-feet of prime real estate at Highway 401 and Hespeler Road.

 

Along with this incredibly cool and unique space comes some unbeatable programming to help you and your team get onside, get ramped up, and get excited for what comes next.

 

Programming at The Link has already been released and space is very limited, so you need to get in early and make sure there is a seat for you. Our Program Manager, (Amrita Gill), is already developing new and different ways for us to connect with meaning, with passion, and as always, with inspiring ideas.

 

The doors opened Oct. 1 and we already have some committed entities ready to set up shop at The Link, but there may still be room for you and your organization. Do you serve only small and medium-sized business? If so, send me a note and maybe, if all the checkmarks are in place, we may just have a spot for you at The Link, but you need to hurry. Yes, there is a cost because we are not a “funded” organization and our support comes from our membership.

 

Speaking of membership, did you know the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce has NOT increased its membership fees in more than 25 years? Talk about an inflation stopper, wow! That is what serving business means to us. We will always find ways to support you and now we are looking for your support to continue the work we do.

 

So please share your expertise with us and book a pod at The Link, or come in and get help from organizations and businesses that are here for you. Even better, drop in and enjoy a coffee, latte, cappuccino, espresso, or my personal favourite, a mochaccino. Hey, I might even buy you one. See you soon at The Link, 750 Hespeler Rd., the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

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It takes dedication and deep commitment to work in the not-for-profit sector, not to mention volunteering for charities and service clubs.

 

Luckily, in Cambridge and the Township of North Dumfries there are many people who have this dedication which benefits us all.

 

To celebrate their efforts during the past year, nominations are now open for our annual Cambridge & North Dumfries Community Awards which recognize the contributions of individuals and organizations in a variety of categories, including leadership, impact, volunteer of the year, as well as lifetime achievement.

 

“These awards provide the ideal chance to show our appreciation to these individuals and organizations for their contributions that make our community even better,” said Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Greg Durocher. “Without them, Cambridge and North Dumfries would not be the same.”

 

There are 10 awards and new to the category list this year is the Arts and Culture Award which recognizes an individual, ensemble or organization that has contributed significantly to the local cultural scene in the past year. Also, the Best Event of the Year Award has returned after being sidetracked by the pandemic.

 

“There’s a variety of categories that should ensure the achievements of these organizations will not go unnoticed,” said Greg, noting organizations are encouraged to nominate themselves. “Sometimes, those who work in the not-for-profit sector are so caught up in the great work they do, they never take a moment to give themselves a pat on the back.”

 

Community leaders and their guests will be on hand Monday, Nov. 13, at the Hamilton Family Theatre for the awards ceremony which is one of the Chamber’s most popular events and has honoured the contributions and achievements of these community builders since 2012.

 

The deadline for submissions is Sept. 1. Click here to place a nomination.

 

The award categories include:

 

Community Collaboration Award

Nominees for this award stand out because of their exceptional professional and/or volunteer achievements in the community, which are above and beyond their role in a paid position. This award recognizes any exceptional employee of a non-profit organization. These nominees embody the spirit of the community and, through their actions and accomplishments, are an inspiration to others.

 

Community Leadership Award

Nominees for this award stand out because of their exceptional professional and/or volunteer achievements in the community, which are above and beyond their role in a paid position. This award recognizes any exceptional employee of a non-profit organization. These nominees embody the spirit of the community and, through their actions and accomplishments, are an inspiration to others.


Community Impact People’s Choice Award

Nominees for this award are organizations that recognize new and better ways to address a need in the community despite the many demands, and sometimes too few resources available. The efforts of this organization have a positive and meaningful impact on the broader community, resulting in clear and measurable change. Nominees in this category demonstrate a commitment to building relationships and collaborating meaningfully with the individuals and communities they serve. They have changed the culture of their organization or worked towards shifting systems by listening to the voices in their community and involving them in solutions and/or processes.

 

Arts and Culture Award

Nominees in this category, either individually, as ensemble or as an organization, have worked diligently and selflessly in a variety of creative, applied, and fine art genres to benefit the community. Their efforts have made a significant contribution to the cultural scene in Cambridge/Township of North Dumfries, while creating access and inclusion to arts and culture.

 

Best Event of the Year Award

Nominees for this award have created an event or program which has made a significant impact that increased awareness and/or boosted the bottom line of the organization. The recipient of this award has worked tirelessly to ensure the quality of this event or program has left an indelible mark on their community.


Board Member Award

This award is presented to a board member who have demonstrated outstanding service to a not-for-profit organization in the City of Cambridge or Township of North Dumfries through the giving of their time, talents, and resources as a board member to further the goals and objectives of the organization.

 

Volunteer of the Year Award

Nominees must have been involved in volunteering for the equivalent of at least 100 hours over a 12-month period. Nominees must have volunteered for a legitimate not-for-profit organization, service club or community group. The communities of Cambridge/Township of North Dumfries or Waterloo Region must be significant beneficiaries of the nominee's volunteer work.

 

Organization of the Year - Under 10 Employees

Are you a not-for-profit organization or service club that provides outstanding programs, services, events, or campaigns that support the needs of the community and its residents? Does your organization successfully raise awareness of issues affecting the community and successfully raise funds to support its mission and goals?

 

Organization of the Year- 11 and Over Employees

Are you a not-for-profit organization or service club that provides outstanding programs, services, events, or campaigns that support the needs of the community and its residents? Does your organization successfully raise awareness of issues affecting the community and successfully raise funds to support its mission and goals?

 

Lifetime Achievement Award

Will be awarded to an individual who, over the past 15 years or more, has made significant contributions to the community and has improved the quality of life for citizens or whose accomplishments have brought recognition to the Waterloo Region.

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Concerns about security on the app TikTok continue to mount as provincial and municipal governments consider or implement plans to restrict employees from accessing the platform on their work devices.

 

At the end of February, the federal government officially announced it was removing TikTok from all its mobile devices, joining a growing list of governments worldwide doing the same, despite assurances from the Chinese company Bytedance which owns the app that it does not share data with the Chinese government or store it in the country.

 

All Canadian provinces are implementing or considering bans, however, at this time it remains unclear if the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut will do the same.

 

But what does this mean for businesses, many of whom now rely on the popular social media platform to promote their business?

 

 

We asked Chamber Members and marketing experts, Ashley Gould of Cinis Marketing and Cathy Lumb of Cali Marketing Communications, to share their insight:

 

Q. What are some of the key benefits for businesses who use TikTok?

 

Ashley: TikTok is a great form of marketing for businesses looking to attract a younger audience. They also currently have a huge user base and extremely high engagement, so it is an easier platform to grow your audience on. The third benefit is that less businesses are using TikTok which translates to less competition, meaning that your posts will be seen more favourably and if you engage in paid ads the cost per engagement will be lower.

 

Cathy: TikTok lets you tell your business’s story with short, fun, and entertaining content that will attract and keep people’s attention. It’s ideal for fun interactive activities and challenges to keep your audience involved and growing.

A benefit for your customers is that they won’t feel they are being advertised to, as with some traditional advertising. Businesses can get a great idea of what their customers like about their products or services as well as what needs to be improved. But it’s important to answer the question: Is my audience on TikTok?

 

Q. What has made it such an attractive social media tool for them, and can they rely on it too much?

 

Ashley: The pandemic helped tremendously with the success of TikTok as a platform. Suddenly, people found themselves with extra time and TikTok was a great place to find the most recent dance or trend that you could then try for yourself. Now, TikTok has a billion active users, who are on the app daily looking to be entertained.

Relying on TikTok as your main form of marketing only works for a very small number of businesses, specifically those who can ship internationally and who are geared to a younger audience. Though TikTok can be helpful for other businesses, it is equally important to spend time on platforms like Instagram Reels that take into account, geographic location on a broader scale.

 

Cathy: It feels more personal and is interactive, videos can be quickly created to be current and in the moment. (You still do need to carefully plan and create engaging material on TikTok.) It is easy to create content with TikTok’s dynamic music and graphics.

It’s also a great way to work with influencers who are using your product or service. If your main target audience is on TikTok then it would be hard not to be there. If TikTok is your only social media platform and at some point, feel you want to get off, it is best to be building your audience on other platforms.

 

Q. Should businesses be concerned about their information being compromised and shared?

 

Ashley: Mainstream media has made it readily known that the majority of apps access more data on our devices than they need to. That said, what is on your device should play into that decision. If your phone holds confidential information that could compromise the government, or a hospital, yes keep TikTok off that device. If the most private thing you have is your banking app, studies thus far have shown you are OK to keep the app at this time.

 

Cathy: This is a big concern as we never want our or our customers’ confidential information to be compromised and used by others. We have already seen many examples of data being collected by other companies and put at risk by being passed on to third parties, without their customers’ consent. TikTok is very good at collecting a lot of information about its users and we can’t be sure where it will end up. More investigation is needed.

 

Q. What are some steps businesses can take to protect themselves? Or can they?

 

Ashley: There is definitely something to be said about keeping TikTok on your personal device only and off your work device. TikTok has developed several strategies for keeping your information more private from an audience perspective, but not from a downloading and data collection perspective.

 

Cathy: As with all social media platforms and search engines, TikTok collects a lot of information from its users so they can effectively target ads. It is impossible for a business or individual to fully protect themselves as there is no way to opt out of all the information TikTok collects.

It’s up to each business and individual to manage their privacy, security and cookies consent on TikTok as well as their browser settings.  Even so, it’s impossible to fully protect yourself from your data being collected and possibly shared as there is no opt out for all information being gathered. A business or individual can minimize some risk by choosing not to post easily identifiable locations in TikTok videos. Individuals can set their TikTok to private to reduce risk.

 

Q. Do you see businesses moving away from using this platform?

 

Ashley: The answer to this question is complicated as it is extremely industry specific. If government employees can no longer download TikTok on their devices, then businesses that are using social media as a means of marketing to this demographic will have to find alternative routes. That said, for the majority of businesses the opposite is true, where more and more businesses are starting to create TikTok strategies.

 

 

Cathy: I think it will be a tough call to make if a business’s customers and competitors continue to use TikTok, especially if the business is benefitting. A lot will depend on what we learn in the coming weeks about TikTok, as well as what the consumer decides to do. I do think that if a business is not benefitting in a tangible way, then they may be more inclined to move away from it. 

We know that Facebook has faced criticism over the past few years, as has Twitter, but it has not stopped people from using these platforms. However, major advertisers recently moved away from Twitter in droves, so we can see that if businesses are not happy with a social media platform, they will take action.

Many individuals on social media do not feel the need to stop using it and some find it hard to understand how they can be of any interest to TikTok or Facebook.

 

 

Q. Are there any social media platforms that are ‘foolproof’ when it comes to security concerns?

 

Ashley:  In my opinion, no. Apps are always collecting data, it is part of how they are created, and that data is meant to further your user experience. Therefore, there is always some kind of security concern with an app. 

 

Cathy: All social media platforms have their strong and weak points regarding security, and all are collecting data about us. Users of social media need to adjust the security, privacy, and advertising cookie settings to the levels they are most comfortable with. Businesses on social media platforms need to keep a close eye on their social media accounts, monitor frequently and address any concerns right away.  Regularly review your analytics to determine if your business’s marketing objectives are being achieved on social media.

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The arrival of the pandemic has altered our lives in many ways, especially how business is now being conducted.

 

As more businesses and organizations look for ways to present their message to potential customers and supporters, creating quality videos should be the method near the top of their list.

 

“In light of COVID-19, we have seen the world turn to video as a lifeline not only professionally, but personally,” says expert video strategist Sheryl Plouffe. “It is the way of the future and businesses that do not integrate video will fail over the next decade.”

 

The international speaker and successful entrepreneur will share some of her valuable insight at our next YIP Growth Learning Series event that focuses on video messaging, which experts say is a great way to connect on an emotional level with your audience compared to other content.

 

“I see a lot of people watching their competition using video, taking their prospects and clients away from them because they’re not willing to face their fear or nervousness about stepping in front of the camera,” says Sheryl. “A lot of people are hanging onto a level of perfectionism that is hindering their growth.”

 

Known for using simple, yet strategic storytelling, she will share some of her best on-camera strategies to assist participants in creating polished and professional products, with an emphasis on how video messaging can benefit their business by making bigger impacts.

 

“My intent is that they’ll feel motivated to take those first few important steps towards building a video strategy that builds their platform and brand,” says Sheryl, adding she’s an ‘open book’ when it comes video. “I also consider myself a video marketing crash test dummy to some degree, so I feel like people who come to this presentation will benefit from asking me anything.”

 

Find out more by joining our session, YIP Growth Learning Series: Video Messaging, on Tuesday, April 6 from 11 a.m. to noon sponsored by Deluxe.

 

To register, visit: https://bit.ly/3smSWPY

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