Networking is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.” What the definition should say, though, is that networking is one of the most effective way to find customers, build relationships, and advance your business.
Networking plays a key role in business success, but finding the right group can sometimes be daunting. Do you join one that is specific to your line of work? How often can you meet? Do you hope to get education out of it as well? There are many things to take into consideration. Fortunately, the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce has many different groups and events that are perfect for networking. Let’s take a look!
The St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce’s premiere networking event, Chamber Connection takes place every single Friday morning (except holiday weekends) from 7am to 9am. It is hosted by a different Chamber member each week, and hosts have the opportunity to present for 15 minutes about their business or a topic of their choice.
The cost to attend is $1 and a business card, but the payoff is huge! This is your chance to network with 120+ other business professionals from Central Minnesota in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. Each attendee has the opportunity to introduce themselves with the microphone, and there is even time for announcements and testimonials at the end. Doors open at 7am and the program starts at 7:30am. It’s a coffee-fueled good time, every Friday!
As a member of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, you automatically gain membership to both the Sauk Rapids and Waite Park Chambers as well. These groups help address the unique needs of these communities, and highlight businesses and organizations within them and beyond.
Sauk Rapids Chamber is the fourth Thursday of every month, and Waite Park is the third Wednesday of every month, both from 11:30am to 1pm. Each meeting is hosted by a Chamber member and features a host presentation as well as some kind of educational speaker or activity. Additionally, each meeting features updates from local officials from the city and school district. Similar to Chamber Connection, attendees also have the chance to introduce themselves and give announcements or testimonials.
Held monthly at different host locations each time, Business After Hours is a great informal way to ease into networking with the Chamber. Typically held on Thursdays from 4:30pm – 6:30pm, each event is hosted by a Chamber member and usually includes appetizers and drinks. It’s a come-and-go style event where you can stay as short or long as you want.
One way to maximize this type of event is to plan to meet a contact you’ve been hoping to catch up with at Business After Hours. It allows a neutral meeting ground, and the opportunity to network with them in a casual setting.
The St. Cloud Area Chamber has tons of special events that happen all year, and each one is an opportunity to network.
- Chamber Open: The Chamber’s golf tournament takes place every August, with a lot of fun ways to network with others and gain exposure.
- Business Awards Luncheon: Held in May each year, this luncheon recognizes the three business award winners each year and is full of opportunities to network and connect.
- Business Showcase: Whether your purchase a booth spot at the Business Showcase or just attend to see what your fellow Chamber members are up to, there are many ways to make connections here.
- Star Celebration: Held each October to recognize the volunteer leader with the Chamber, this is a fun evening of recognition and networking among members.
- Farm Show: Even if you’re not in the farming industry, there are opportunities to connect at the Farm Show each February, from volunteering to simply attending.
Working on yourself professionally and learning new skills is important. With the Chamber’s professional development opportunities, there is so much more than growth – everything is a chance to network.
- Lunchtime Learning: These educational sessions take place monthly with various topics, and all of them include time for chatting with other Chamber members.
- NEXT – Emerging Leaders: This is the Chamber’s young professionals group. They do a mixture of both learning about businesses and listening to speakers as well as networking and getting to know each other better.
- The Leadership Program: This 9 month course meets monthly on a variety of topics to help develop leadership skills with the added bonus of getting to know each other really well through the duration of the program.
- Professional Dialogue Groups: Made up of top level owners and managers, these networking groups serve as a place for executives to connect, share ideas, discuss problems and more.
If there’s one thing that is certain, it’s that no matter how you choose to be involved with the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce, there is guaranteed to be opportunities for networking and getting to know other professionals in the business community. Not currently a member? Contact Antoinette to get started. Want to know more about getting involved in these events? Reach out to Laura, she will help you find the best fit for your needs. When in doubt, contact the Chamber with your questions or concerns and we will be happy to help you!