Making the most of your Chamber Membership

My name is Andy Fisher and I am the Business Development Manager for www.sgcorporateservices.co.uk an Independent Financial Advisor specialising in Auto Enrolment Staff Pensions for businesses based in Norwich and across Norfolk and Suffolk.  We’ve just joined the Chamber and after sitting next to Caroline Williams (Chamber CEO) at my first Chamber networking event, I’ve agreed to write a regular blog about how to make the most of your Chamber membership.

So the first place I looked was the Chamber website.  It’s a real window of opportunity and in this first blog I’m going to focus on the recent event at Norwich City Football Ground.  Why do we go to networking events?  They often involve getting up at the crack of dawn or extending busy days so it’s important to think carefully about your own objectives.  For me I primarily wanted to meet new potential business introducers and business owners themselves who needed to sort out an Auto Enrolment scheme for their own staff.

So having booked the meeting on line, I received an email two days before the event with the delegate list.  There were around 100 people going (wow!) so I quickly scanned the list and ticked off the five people I most wanted to meet.  Rather than hoping to find them on the day, I called each one to introduce myself and within an hour I had five appointments in the diary.  Like me, they all wanted to meet people and the Chamber meeting had already established a tenuous link between us,  I don’t think 5 similar cold calls would have generated quite the same result! All these meetings have now taken place and we now have some great new relationships in place, one of which has already resulted in two further meetings and firm plans to work together.

The event itself was great and two superb speakers relevant to our business.  I left the meeting feeling like I should be buying some lottery tickets as my luck was definitely in.  Firstly I sat next to a partner at one of the largest Accountancy firms in the whole region (another meeting in the bag that has now also taken place with extremely positive results).  We then did some safari networking and I ended up sat next to Caroline Williams and here I am writing this blog.  The funniest thing of all was that on my way out I went over to the Swarm Apprenticeships stand and started speaking to the person who I thought was running the stand.  It turned out that it was the Economic Development Officer for Norwich City Council who was just waiting for someone!  I’d only been on their site the day before looking for a contact and we’ve now had a proper meeting with really positive outcomes.  The best £18 I’ve spent for a very long time!

So the moral of this story is to really think about what you want to achieve from Chamber meetings.  Potentially everyone there is in the same boat as you and you are already at first base in building a relationship with them by just being there.  Happy networking!

 

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