Business is built on relationships and networking is a key tool to make that happen.
But walking into a room filled with strangers can be very a daunting task, says Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Greg Durocher.
“The whole trick to networking is understanding what you’re doing,” he says. “You’re not there to make a sale. You’re there to start building relationships because people prefer to do business with others they know, like and trust.”
The Chamber Social, held monthly at a various Members’ businesses, is a great place to build those relationships providing the commitment is there to attend often.
“It’s very much like learning to swim. You don’t learn just by jumping in the pool; you have to continually jump in, and it can be scary,” says Greg. “But the more you do it the more comfortable you become.”
He says by approaching a networking event as way to discover how you can help others can lead to success.
“It might just be offering a recommendation to help them solve a problem and that in itself is doing business. 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 will start wanting to do business with you.”
To assist, Greg recommends attending networking events using a tag team approach.
“Tag teams are really important, especially for people who feel a little bit nervous if they’re attending an event where they don’t know many people.”
He says having a comfortable backup will not only give them someone to chat with, but also makes it easier to circulate at an event.
As well, Greg says having a good supply of business cards on hand – in pockets and the car - is vital.
“Having a business card is the authorization you’re giving people to collect the data that’s important to make contact with you,” he says, noting digital cards which utilize a QR code are also good to have. “The only problem with a digital business card is that people have to remember who it was they were speaking with and if they forget your name, it may take time to search it out.”
But when it comes to networking, Greg says ‘repeat, repeat and repeat’ is a must in terms of attendance to build a strong foundation of trust.
“You want to be that one person in the room that virtually everybody knows,” he says. “When you become the person they know, like and trust, that’s going to be your new salesforce because they are the ones who will be referring you and recommending you to others which makes good business sense.”
Put your networking skills to the test at our next Chamber Social which is at Staples, The Business Depot on Monday, Feb. 13 from 5-6:30 p.m
For the first time since March of 2020, the Chamber hosted its first in-person Business After Hours event on Dec. 13 at Four Fathers Brewing Co.
It was a great opportunity for our Members to meet safely and reconnect with old friends and new ones.
We also took this opportunity to ask a few our guests the following question:
What will you remember the most about the pandemic?
“Probably how well we can pivot. People can pivot and basically take a look at things and do things differently.”
- Tony Rossel, Best Version Media
“I will remember missing community and just being able to meet with people and see faces and connect in-person,”
- Heid Brouwer, Galt Osteopathy
“Endless Zoom meetings and learning how to facilitate meetings. It looks a lot easier than it really is. And that the number of kilometres I’ve driven has been cut in half. We’ve discovered some creative solutions and so much work is now being done at home.”
- Murray Smith, Blue Canoe Consulting
“How poorly the government handled this. They contradicted themselves a lot initially with what you should do – wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, wear two masks, or get the AstraZeneca shot, or no you don’t need the AstraZeneca shot. They tried too hard without putting any thought into it and it just never seemed to work. I will remember that indecisiveness – everything’s fine, or no it’s not. They didn’t lead well, and I will always remember how poorly they led us through this.”
- Rick Gallinger, Top-Notch Concierge
“I will remember how much I missed being around family and people. Sometimes it makes us realize how grateful we should be when everything is good because we take a lot of things for granted, and we really need to be more thankful and more aware and enjoy every moment that we can.”
- Maggie Herrington, Top-North Concierge
“I just feel so fortunate that we were able to continue to stay open and look after our customers. I feel like we’ve been really lucky,
- Laurie Herald, Cambridge Tirecraft
“The fact we couldn’t have in-person social events. For me, I miss that interaction and I’m so excited that we are slowly getting back to reality. But the worst part has been looking at your family and friends losing jobs and having to stay at home. I have two stepchildren and the virtual learning was really hard for them. I think it was struggle for them and the teacher so I’m happy they are back in the classroom.”
- Stephanie Jane, Marketing Manager at Four Fathers Brewing Co.
The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce is easing its way back into hosting traditional events.
After more than 20 months since the pandemic began, the Chamber is set to host its first in-person Business After Hours event on Dec. 13 at Four Fathers Brewing Co. in Hespeler.
Chamber President and CEO Greg Durocher says is an important step for the organization.
“It’s a priority for the Chamber to start getting back to in-person events,” he says. “But whether they will be ‘normal’ as we all remember them, that probably won’t happen for some time.”
In fact, Greg expects future Chamber events will be of the ‘hybrid’ variation to a certain degree, providing Members the chance to attend in-person or remain in a virtual setting.
“That’s going to be for the benefit of everybody,” he says. “But we will certainly provide Members with value in regard to our content the best that we can.”
He says having an in-person Business After Hours event is important to many Chamber Members.
“It’s important for people doing business in the community to have an opportunity to meet safely with others face-to-face,” says Greg, noting the importance of following strict safety protocols and restrictions set out in the Province’s Reopening Ontario Act.
As a result, participants will not only have to register in advance, but proof of vaccination is required as well as identification that matches that material.
Just like restaurants, the provincial QR code will also be utilized at the event.
“Most of our events take place in other venues, such as conference centres, restaurants or meeting rooms that are not ours,” says Greg, noting regulations set out in the Act apply to these locations.
As well, the Cambridge Chamber Board of Directors recently passed a mandatory vaccination policy for the Chamber office for staff and visitors arriving for meetings or programs. Those with a valid COVID-19 vaccination exemption, or having valid documentation to present, will be required to take a rapid antigen screening test before entering. These tests will be provided by the Chamber at no cost.
“These are precautionary measures put in place on behalf of the staff because our staff want assurances they are working in a safe environment and we’re doing whatever we can do to make sure that happens,” says Greg, adding like many businesses, the Chamber office is also covered under the Reopening Ontario Act and is entitled to invoke a vaccination policy.
Creating a safe environment will also be key at the Business After Hours event which is why the Chamber will provide colour-coded lanyards to participants when they arrive.
“Each colour will indicate that person’s comfort level of contact,” says Greg, noting that physical distancing and masks remain important. “Some people are very anxious to get out and meet others in-person, and others are anxious to get out and meet but aren’t quite comfortable enough to do so.”
Business After Hours takes place from 5-6:30 p.m. For more, visit https://bit.ly/3pdiUVI
As the days turn into weeks in the battle against COVID-19, it’s imperative for businesses to adapt to this new reality.
Many are now using videoconferencing platforms such as Zoom, Cisco Webex, and GoToMeeting as a method to not only keep in touch with their co-workers but as an important tool to conduct business.
Mastering this technology is key when it comes to marketing your business says Mike Jennings, president of the Cambridge-based digital marketing agency MoreSALES.
“A lot of companies will judge you based not only on your ability to communicate but your ability to use technology well,” he says, explaining tech-based firms, along with banks and insurance companies, are more willing to work with organizations that are comfortable with technology.
Mike says Marshall McLuhan’s famous quote, ‘the medium is the message’, still holds true, especially in today’s technologically advanced business world.
“Marketing is really about building trust as quickly as possible so the more you can look competent and communicate your message clearly and efficiently, the better,” he says. “That’s where Zoom can really be a benefit to companies.”
Mike says his company had used GoToMeeting in the past but switched to Zoom approximately two years ago after finding it more reliable and easier for clients to navigate.
“We’ve been using it ever since and we’ve also been using it as a marketing tool,” he says, referring to the way Zoom allows his company to present ideas to clients through screen sharing and webinars.
However, Mike says prior to the arrival of COVID-19 his staff often didn’t use the video portion of the platform which can take up a great deal of bandwidth unless there is good connectivity. And while some companies have been scrambling when COVID-19 struck to find ways for their employees to work from home, that wasn’t the case at MoreSALES.
“Our staff has been able to work remotely for years so it wasn’t a cultural shift at all,” he says, noting in 2016 his company switched to a smaller office footprint.
When it comes to using Zoom, or other videoconferencing platforms, Mike is a firm believer that “familiarity breeds confidence.”
“Getting really familiar with the platform is important because it makes things go a lot smoother,” he says. “So, get familiar with the platform and learn where all the buttons are.”
He says getting to know how to use the ‘mute’ button can be key during an online meeting or discussion.
As well, being aware of what may be in your background is also important.
“Nothing is worse than people seeing stupid stuff there, and it’s distracting,” says Mike, adding common sense should prevail.
Also, he says camera position is another big consideration a participant in a videoconference should think about before joining the group.
“It’s all about camera work in a sense. Ideally, the camera should be pointing dead on or pointing down,” says Mike, adding the same principles people use when trying to take that ideal selfie can be applied in this situation.
And when it comes to ‘Zoombombing’, a concept which has seen a recent surge of hackers and jokers interrupt online discussions, he says there are steps that can be taken to discourage unwanted ‘guests’ from joining.
“You can set up a password and email it to those only in the meeting,” says Mike. “You can also set up a waiting room and participants can be accepted before coming into the meeting.”
Most importantly, he says do not advertise your Zoom meeting on social media to ward off potential hacking.
He believes using platforms like Zoom will likely become the norm for many businesses once the crisis finally ends and people become more comfortable with the technology.
“If you know what you’re doing and you’re able to quickly adapt your process to video marketing and video calls, and still communicate clearly and well – and not have clutter in the background and fumbling with buttons and being useless with technology – that goes a long way,” says Mike.
Here’s a few Zoom tips that may help:
Hello Chamber members,
Happy New Year to all Chamber Members and their families! With the holidays behind us, it's time to get back to the grind. There is no better time to start with attending our first Business After Hours of the year on January 13th at Betroth … The Wedding Store in downtown Hespeler. I had the opportunity of attending there grand opening and I encourage you to attend to see this unique facility !! Many thanks to Information Network Systems for sponsoring the entire year of Business After Hours come on out and speak to their reps they offer some significant savings to Chamber Members for office equipment.
Thanks to the Chamber members who supported with ads our Relocation Guide should be ready soon. The Winter Spectrum will be hitting the streets soon and the magazine just gets better and better if you are interested in the Spring issue let me know the deadline is March 10th.
Welcome to new Chamber Members in the last week or so…Retire at Home Services, Warriors Through Time, Danipa, ROI Capital, Argosy Securities and Long Bridge Inc, . Welcome to all these new members.
Hope to see you sooner than later. Happy New Year and remember shop Chamber members first!!
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