Chamber offers tools for success - Tucson Local Media: News

Chamber offers tools for success

programs connect business people with community

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Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 3:00 am

A stack of business cards and a well-crafted elevator pitch are just two of the tools local businesses can use to effectively increase exposure of their services at upcoming Marana Chamber of Commerce events.

During a recent survey, members asked the chamber for different ways to network with each other. One method they liked was a speed networking session conducted earlier this year during a chamber luncheon.

Members spoke so favorably about the session that the chamber is bringing it back, said chamber President/CEO Ed Stolmaker.

“We had a lot of positive feedback about speed networking, so we’ve tweaked a few things. Everyone liked the idea of having a one-on-one and going from table to table,” Stolmaker noted.

During speed networking, business people are given a set time, say, one minute, to describe their services. They control the content in their elevator pitch, which is a prepared explanation used to best advertise themselves to a stranger in the time it takes to ride an elevator.

Once everyone at the table has spoken, they switch to a different table with other attendees and repeat the cycle.

“I think members like these social networking opportunities. They like that face-to-face contact and the ability to inform others about their business while learning about their services,” Stolmaker said.

Speed networking will return to the chamber schedule during its Nov. 17 luncheon meeting at Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain.

It is one of many new ideas being rolled out or updated to help chamber members.

“In a chamber organization, every member has different needs and wants,” Stolmaker, explained. “We take the information from our surveys and, while we don’t change the whole direction of our organization, we try to meet someone’s needs.

“Networking doesn’t meet everybody’s needs in the chamber. It isn’t a priority for some,” he continued. “Some of our smaller businesses – they’re the ones who responded most to our survey – want to network in a more traditional way at our breakfasts.”

Some members are interested in learning more about the Town of Marana’s economic development. For them, the chamber offers a legislative and economic briefing on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Marana Operations Center, 5100 W. Ina Road.

The next briefing is Oct. 26. Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson will discuss the town’s recent retreat to discuss its strategic plan.

Other town staff members and elected town and county officials are expected to attend.

The free event is sponsored by Southwest Gas. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. The meeting takes place from 8 to 9 a.m.

The chamber also is helping its members with community outreach through its Partners in Education – Adopt a School program with the Marana Unified School District.

It helps match businesses and people with local schools in an effort to help the two understand each other, said Stolmaker.

“It’s all about relationships. Programs like Principal for the Day will get people talking to people. They shadow each other in their jobs and understand what they’re facing in their worlds,” Stolmaker said.

“As a result, they’ve formed a lot of great partnerships.”

The chamber hopes to reintroduce the updated program by the end of the year, as soon as necessary adjustments are made to the chamber’s website.

The chamber has spent the past year and a half redesigning its site.

“We’re on the back end of that now. We’ve made big changes to the calendar and its look. There will be more pictures of Marana. It will be more bright and cheery. The home page won’t look as crowded,” Stolmaker said.

Until the new site is introduced, Stolmaker invites members and potential members to visit and use the many educational services the current site offers.

They include Tools for Business, which provides information about how to start a business, and Clip Here, Save There, a money-saving coupon program.

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