Chamber Chat with Chris Gardner

September 21, 2021 - 12:00am

Chamber Chat with Chris Gardner

Networking after the pandemic

One of my roles as a Chamber of Commerce Director is to work with the Chamber team to plan a programme of networking events. Given that COVID is largely in the rear mirror, it is an interesting time to be having these discussions. With a break from face-to-face events for almost 18 months we have an opportunity to reassess our offering and build a portfolio of events that best meet the expectations of our members.

I’ve spoken to a handful of people who are slightly apprehensive about the return of face-to-face networking, but the large majority are keen to return to offline events. My assumption is that, although Zoom networking will not disappear and it has its uses, face-to-face networking will remain the most desirable and effective method of making new contacts and building the connections that can ultimately drive businesses forward.

I think the area that the Chamber covers is particularly suited to real world events. We are relatively geographically concentrated and have plenty of good venues to host events. The size of the local business community is also helpful; there are plenty of people to meet and business to be won but it’s not too big a community to become well known in a reasonable time frame.

We’re keen to host the events that Chamber members want and would very much welcome feedback and suggestions. We believe that we need a variety of events for our members to attend. With this is mind we’re planning ‘classic’ networking events where you can introduce yourself to many different people, advertise your business and distribute your business cards! A great example of this is the breakfast networking meeting coming up on the morning of the 30th September. I believe this event will be well attended and I’m very optimistic that it will be a big success. Details of the event and how to book can be found on our website.

Other events are designed to be more social in nature, allowing us to cultivate relationships with other businesspeople in a relaxed and friendly setting. Ideally these events will involve a beer or two and the recent chamber BBQ held at Lancaster Brewery was a great example of this type of event. The BBQ, kindly sponsored by Handelsbanken, was enjoyed by around 75 people and we plan on making it an annual event.

We have an idea of what we want to achieve for our membership but we are actively seeking feedback and an insight into the type of events you would like to attend in the future. With this in mind, I would like to invite suggestions by email: cgardner@watersandatkinson.co.uk