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Networking Groups

Developing relationships that, in turn, generate business opportunities is at the heart of most Chambers of Commerce’s mission statements.

Attending meetings, after hours and even golf outings is a proven way of meeting the printer down the street, the banker across town and the insurance broker around the corner. In many cases, those encounters translate to business for them and reliable vendors and professionals for you, strengthening the local business community.

In fact, many businesspeople argue that because business networking is a low-cost activity that involves more personal commitment than company money, it is a more cost-effective method of generating new business than advertising or even public relations efforts.

In additional to monthly networking breakfasts and after-hours events, the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce currently has three active networking groups that meet on a regular basis.

The Sales Network Group, facilitated by Russ Peters of Mobile Print, meets from 7:45 to 9 a.m. each Wednesday. They meet at a different local restaurant the first Wednesday of each month and on the other Wednesdays they meet at Village Bank and Trust, 320 E. Northwest Highway.

“We currently have eight members and have been meeting weekly for about three decades,” Peters explained. “We follow a general format of trading leads and sharing resources. Then, we rotate between members, allowing each of them to have half an hour to bring us up to date on something within their scope of business. For instance, our insurance agent member might talk to us about new things happening in the insurance business.”

“We have found that we feel much more comfortable referring our clients, friends and even relatives to someone we know, so that is the net- working piece, and we also enjoy bouncing ideas off of one another,” he continued.

The group only allows one purveyor of each service so that members don’t end up competing for referrals. Therefore, there is one banker, one financial services person, one contractor, one attorney and so forth.

“We are happy to grow and add people to our group so prospective members are encouraged to visit a meeting,” Peters said.

The Professional Women’s Group has been meeting around Mount Prospect for more than a decade. Led by Susan Dozier of American Chartered Bank, the group currently meets from noon to 1 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, generally at the Mount Prospect Public Library, 10 S. Emerson St., but occasionally elsewhere.

“We encourage members to bring their lunch and eat while we talk,” Dozier explained.

“Most meetings begin with 10 to 15 minutes of round table announcements and then we generally have a speaker. Topics have included stock market updates, leadership and support, women’s health issues, updates from Springfield and community news,” she said.

Elected officials Mayor Arlene Juracek and State Representative Elaine Nekritz have participated in the group.

“Our aim is to support women within the community live better lives, professionally and personally” Dozier explained, “so we have also taken ‘field trips’ to the Mount Prospect Historical Society and the Mt. Prospect Park District art studio and have had speakers from new businesses like the Wildbird Shack.”

“It is a welcoming group and we would love to grow. Women who are interested should feel free to bring their lunch and join us,” she added.

Power Net is a business forum which meets from 7:50 to 9 a.m., the first and third Thursdays of each month. One meeting is held at a local restaurant and the other is held at American Chartered Bank, 111 E. Rand Rd.

According to members, the group has been meeting for many years and started out as a hard-core business referral group but eventually evolved into a business forum where they exchange information and advice. Marketing and promoting their businesses has become an outgrowth of the group.

Power Net rotates between members, talking about their businesses and educating each other about what is happening. They also help each other solve problems and sometimes bring in outside speakers who highlight a business that could be helpful or of interest to members.

Power Net also tries to prevent member competition by limiting membership to one person in each occupation. They currently have a banker, a realtor, a home inspector, a roofer, an attorney, an investment advisor, a certified public accountant and a health supplement retailer.

Members say that being in the group keeps them in touch with what is going on in the community because it has so many prominent members who can provide real information, not neighborhood gossip. They often use their connections in the group as referrals for their clients and often receive business in return.

The tradition of holding a monthly Chamber Networking Meal was recently resurrected after a long absence, offering a new networking opportunity at the start of the day to Chamber members. The recent recession had driven a stake in the earlier tradition of holding networking luncheons, according to Dawn Fletcher Collins, executive director of the Mount Prospect Chamber of Commerce.

Thirty-three members of the local business community attended the inaugural First Wednesdays Chamber Business Breakfast which was held August 5 at Emerson’s Ale House, 113 S. Emerson St.. Reservations were required and walk-ins were not permitted.

The breakfast is designed to allow plenty of time for meeting others and networking. The doors open at 7:45 a.m. Breakfast is served at 8:15 a.m. and a Village staff member is scheduled to spend 10 minutes updating those present on some aspect of Village business at each meeting. Attendees are out the door by 8:50 a.m., Chamber members only.

“The cost is $15 per person, including tax and tip. The food has been deli-

cious, service and experience awesome. We have had both new and established Chamber members attend and that has been wonderful,” Collins said.

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