While the Philomath Area Chamber of Commerce members enjoy their luncheons on the third Thursday each month, the opportunity to network can be a bit of a challenge
The atmosphere tends to be more structured with guest speakers, student recognition and members trying to fit in lunch over the noon hour. Those factors often limit any networking opportunity to the few minutes of free conversation and usually with those sitting at the same table.
Enter the Philomath chamber's new greeters program. Members can now get together on the first Wednesday morning each month in a different setting. The inaugural event last week brought members to Citizens Bank.
"We do our luncheon once a month and that's really it," chamber board member Bre Miller said. "We've done business after hours before but I think they're sometimes hard for a lot of people that run their own businesses and have families and whatnot. So we're just trying something first thing in the morning like some other chambers do in the area."
Miller sees great value in the activity for its members.
"The fun part is it get us into people's places of business to see where they're located, what they do and learn more about it and then network at the same time," Miller said.
Lisa Watkins, who also sits on the chamber board, sees that same type of value.
"I think there are a lot of businesses in Philomath that people don't realize are even here," Watkins said. "So it present a good opportunity for people to showcase their business."
That's exactly what Josh Kvidt, Philomath branch manager and vice president, did during last Wednesday's inaugural greeters event. Kvidt talked a little about the bank and then asked employees to introduce themselves.
"Like Lisa said, it's just getting people into your establishment," Miller said. "Because they're going to introduce their employees and talk about their services and also it gives the chamber members a chance to introduce themselves. Like, if I really wanted to talk to Russ from ServPro, well maybe I've never met him before and he's here. Now that gives me an opportunity to network."
The chamber didn't have any problems filling up its monthly greeters schedule through the rest of the year. Next month, the greeters will gather at Clint Housley's Farmers Insurance office, followed by the Corvallis Knights in May, Anytime Fitness in June and on down the line.
"We weren't sure how the response would be and it was like overnight, we filled up the slots," Watkins said.
At this inaugural event, around 20 people were on hand.
"Chamber members are encouraged to bring door prizes to give away, so that also gets your products out there," Miller said. "There are lots of different benefits, but I think just the true, natural networking piece will be huge."
Miller invites the community to attend a greeters event for an opportunity to check out the chamber.
"Guests can come up to two times and then we ask them to join the chamber to be a part of this," Miller said. "But we'd love to have anyone in the community to come check it out. There's coffee, there's donuts, there's fruit. Every host will provide something different but at least there will be coffee at every location."