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Amandaalwayswonderedwhathermom realydidatworkalday.

Sheleftearlyinthemorningandreturnedoftenafterdark.

Whensheaskedthequestion,mom saidshewasata

RibbonCuting,BusinesAfterHours,

orplanningafundraisingevent.

Asayounggirl,age8,shedidn’tknowwhatthatrealymeant.

Oneday,afternotfeelingwelmostofthenightandnotableto

atendschool,mom suggestedshespendthedaywithher.“Ihavea

meetingthismorningandafewprojectsIneedtofocuson,but

comewithmetotheofice,”’shesaid.“Youcanrestasneeded.”


Amanda’seyeswidenedasshewalked

intothewelcomecenterattheChamberofice.Inclear,plasticbrochures

onthewalswerebrochures,busines

cardsandcouponsfrom mostevery

businesintown.Shesmiledasshe

pickedupadiscountcoupontoherfavoritefrozenyogurtshop.

“Mom,canwegotheretonight?,

sheasked.

Mom repliedwitha“nottonightbut

maybethisweekend”from thecopy

machine.TheChamber’sgolf

tournamentandmembershipsocial

werehappeninginafewweeks.

Thecommiteewouldbemeetingat

8:30a.m.toreviewsponsorpartners

andtheday’sagenda.


Amandawonderedwhyachamberofcommercewouldholdagolftournamentand

foundherselfaskingthequestionaloud.

What

DOESa

Chamber

DO?

Amandaaskedherself.

“Thegolftournamentraisesmuchneeded

moneyforourorganization,”repliedmom.

“Thatmoneykeepsourmembershipdueslow

andhelpsusdosomuchmoreforourlocal

businescommunity.We’dhavetocharge

moretobeamemberwithoutsuchasuccesfulfundraisingevent.”

“Besides….itissomuchfun!”,addedmom.“

Wenetworkandtalkaboutbusineswhile

havingabitoffriendlycompetitiononthe

course.”

Amandasmiledbutshewonderedwhatmom

meantby“network”.Isthata“real”word,she

askedherself.Whatisa“Chamber”and

“WhatDOESitDO,sheaskedherself.


Soonlaughterfiledthewelcomecenteras

menandwomeninbusinessuitsandcasual

atirearrivedforthemeeting.Everyone

seemedhappytobethere.Therewerefirm

handshakesandevenafewhugsexchanged.

“Let’sgoupstairstotheboardroom andstart

themeeting,”saidmom.


Amandawasn’tinvitedtothemeeting.

Mom gaveherpenandpaper,

thepaswordtothecomputer

andaskedhertohangout

quietlyinherofice.

Butcuriositywonthebatle

withAmanda.

Shequietlysatatthebotom ofthe

stairsandlistened.


Sheheardanewtowncofeeshopownertalkaboutthepastriesandcofee

hewantedtodonatefortheevent.

“Iwildonatealthecofee,cups,plates,utensilsandpastriesfortheeventifI

canatachmybusinescardandacouponforafuturevisit,”saidPaul.“Iwant

thebusinescommunitytoknowthatIam hereandtrymyfreshlygroundand

brewedcofee.Thiswilencouragethem togivemeatry,”headded.

Andanotherlady,AmandaheardsomeonecalherKathy,askedifshe

couldsetupabankdisplayonholenumber9.

“I’dliketoofersnacks,beveragesandwiltakethegolferspictureswhilethey

waitfortheirturntoplay,”shesaid.“Itwilhelpmemeetareabusinesowners,

colecttheirbusinescardsoremailaddres,andthenIcanfolowupwithour

newcreditcardoptionsnextweek.”


SimilartalkscontinuedandAmandabeganto

wonderifthatiswhathermom meantwhenshe

said“network”.Shequietlyleftthestepsandwent

tomom’sofice.Onthecomputer,shesearchedto

seewhatthewordnetworkmeans.

Whatshefoundwasnoun-grouporsystem ofinterconnectedpeopleorthingsorverb-connectas

oroperatewithanetwork.


Sherememberedanotherconversationwithmom aboutChamberBusinesAfterHourswhenthewordwasused.Shehad

atendedonebeforeanditjustseemedlikeafunpartytoher.

Therewasfoodbyarestaurant/caterer,winefrom alocal

vineyardandcraftbeerfrom anareabrewery.Theadmision

ticketwasabusinescardwhicheveryoneseemedtoshare

oftenwitheachother.Mom hadtakenpicturesattheevent

andsomevideoforsocialmedia.Thevideoincluded

aninterviewwiththeowneraboutwhatthebusineshadto

oferandhowtocontactthem foraquoteonservices.

Amandaremembered thelitlepinkcupcakes

onthebufetlinewereandhadpleadedformom

totakeherbyformoreaftertheevent.

“Thoseweresoverytasty,mom!”,shehadsaid.

“Couldweservethoseatmyschoolbanquetnextweek?”


Afterthemeeting,mom camedownstairs,grabbedthecamerabag,

scisorsandribbon,andaskedAmandatojoinherinthecar.

Theydrovetoalocalathleticshoestore.

Someofthesamepeoplefrom themorningmeetingwerealready

thereandsomeothersquicklygathered.

Therewasa“WelcomeNewBusines”sign,baloonsandflowersfrom

alocalflorist.Everyonewassmilingandshakinghands.

Awoman–thatIlaterheardwastheshoestoreowner–talkedabout

herproductlineandhowtoknowwhattypeofshoewasbestforyou.

Sinceitwaslunchtime,therewaspizza,botledwateranda

“Congratulations”cakeonatableinthemiddleoftheroom.


Amandawatchedaspeoplecameandwent,

exchangedbusinescards,talkedabouthowthebusines

“metaneedinthecommunity”

andhowthey“wishedthem succes.”

Mom tookpicturesandvideoofthecelebration.

Amandanoticedhowhappyeveryoneseemed.


Aftertheribboncuting,mom and

Amandawentbacktotheofice.

Amandalistenedasmom andtheother

Chamberstafmemberstalkedwith

visitorsonthephoneandintheofice.

V

isitorsaskedaboutthepopulationand

economicclimateofthearea.

Theyaskedforhelpfindingplacesto

buylocalseafoodortoshop.

Therewastalkabouthomesforsale,

taxratesandwheretheirchildren

wouldatendschool.


Amandalistenedandcontinuedtothinkaboutthatword“network”.She

thoughtaboutthegolftournament,theribboncutings,thenewbusineses

andvisitorsaskingquestionsabouthercommunity.Shehadheardhermom

andtheotherChamberstafmembersanswerthequestionsandwassurprisedathowmanyanswerstheyknew.Whentheydidn’tknowtheanswers,

theylookedonthechamberwebsiteforphonenumbersofpeopletheysaid

would“knowtheanswers”.

Amandabegantowonderifnetworkmeantyoueitherknewtheright

answerorknewwhodidknowit.


Laterthatnightatdinner,sheaskedmom whyshehadworkedattheChamberforsomanyyears.Mom’sanswersurprisedher.

“WorkingattheChamberhasconnectedmewithsomanygreatfriendsand

resourcesovertheyears,”saidmom.“ThroughtheChamber,Imetour

familydoctorandourdentist.Inaddition,ithelpeduschoosethebankwe

woulduseforourdepositsandloans.We’vemadegreatfriendsthatloveour

communityandthatweenjoyhangingwithonFridaynights.Beinga

memberhashelpedyourdad’sfurniturestoretobenoticedbylocalbuilders

anddevelopers,helpedusgrowintoastrongarearetailer.“


Amandasaid….Andyou“network”?

Whatdoesthatmean,mom?

“Networkingmeansconnectingwithwhateveryourbusinesneeds,”repliedmom.

“Forsome,thatisanewclient.

Forothers,itmeanssomeonewhocanf

undthebusines,loanthem moneytobuy

equipmentorinventory.Tomost,itmeans

theopportunitytomeetnewpeople,

potentialclients,totalkinpersonorhave

anopportunitytoconnectwithaclientor

customer.Itcanbeassimpleasanopen

doorforpeopletomeetoranadvertisement

tothosewhoneedaserviceorareferral.”

Amandasmiledasshefinalyunderstood.

Shelikedthathermom wassoinvolvedin

hercommunity.


“WhenIgrowupandworkfordadinthe

salesdepartmentatourretailstore,

Iwanttonetworkat

Chambereventstoo,mom.”sheadded.

“Canweordermesome

businescardstonight?”

Mom justsmiled.

ShelovedthatAmanda

recognizedtheneedforstrongcommunity

connectionsandnetworking.

Amanda

“Let’saskdadtonightwhatyourtitle

shouldbe,”sheadded.

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