Convenient networking is key for membership.
One of the most successful membership get-togethers hosted by the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce is a morning series of Power Networking Breakfasts. They occur on three or four Wednesdays throughout the calendar year and feature 60-75 people in attendance.
“Most of our 2,600 chamber members are small business owners or managers who often can’t get away from their businesses except for early in the morning,” says Henry Bell, chief operations officer of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce. “Power Networking is ideal because members will walk out of the breakfast with about 30 business cards.”
Members are first seated at tables, with each person talking about their business for two minutes. They get business cards from all the others seated at the same table, then everyone goes to different tables to speak with people they haven’t chatted with yet.
“The breakfasts are ideal for networking and will hopefully grow your small business,” Bell says. “Even if a small-business owner can make only one session a year, do yourself a favor and attend.”
Expo Draws 5,000
Other events the chamber schedules include membership luncheons, after-hours functions, half-day business-related training sessions, committee meetings, a golf tournament, an annual nighttime dinner banquet and an annual Tyler Business Expo that occurs on the fourth Thursday of January. The expo takes place at the Harvey Convention Center with about 200 businesses showcasing their products and services for about 5,000 people who attend.
“The chamber also sends out email newsletters every week and uses other electronic means to keep our members informed on anything that might help their businesses,” Bell says. “A significant amount of members engage in our chamber activities, and we look to have the numbers increase even more throughout 2016.”
Bell adds that the chamber also helps small businesses through its involvement with tourism, helping Visit Tyler oversee annual festivals, a Rose Season celebration, and an Azalea and Spring Flower Trail event that brings tens of thousands of tourists into the community.
“All kinds of events day and night – the chamber schedules a variety of things,” Bell says. “Bottom line, it’s all about our businesses networking and getting referrals.”