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Grand Junction chamber offers networking events through varied programs

Diane Schwenke

Diane Schwenke

Don’t expect much to change in the form of events and services at the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. It’s not that the organization is stagnant. Rather, the group has added so much in recent years it plans on sitting tight to see how everything pans out in 2011.

From energy briefings to social networking seminars to business networking, the largest chamber organization in the Grand Valley has responded to its membership.

Through it all, the chamber urges members to expand their knowledge of online networking while at the same time attending social events to solidify relationships eye-to-eye.

“You need both,” said Diane Schwenke, president and chief executive officer of the chamber. “Face-to-face networking is still the No. 1 thing you can do. People like to do business with people they know.”

While the baby boom generation seems more comfortable with personal networking, Schwenke said members of the X and Y generations are more adept at Facebook and other forms of social media.

Schwenke said she noticed higher attendance at business after hours events and other functions during 2010, a gain she attributed partly to the recession. “People tend to go back to business basics,” she said, adding it’s now common to see 300 people at after hours events. Such socials are usually staged the last Tuesday of each month. The chamber also added a networking at noon event in response to requests for face-to-face networking opportunities during work hours.

At press time, the chamber was planning its annual banquet to celebrate local business achievements. The chamber also recognizes local business expansions during quarterly breakfast meetings. An annual Energy Forum and Expo partially sponsored by the chamber is scheduled for Feb. 25 at Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction.

During the state legislative session that runs from January through May, the chamber sponsors videoconference updates with state lawmakers at Mesa State College. A trip to meet state legislators in Denver is scheduled for March 3 and 4.

The chamber also continues to promote its buy local and energy conservation programs.

For members who want to roll up their sleeves even more, the chamber offers committees that address economic stimulus, energy, governmental affairs and leadership. The chamber also enlists volunteer tutors to work in elementary schools.

Chamber activities will take on an international scope when members travel to Ireland in the fall. The chamber has offered excursions to China and Italy in recent years, offering a closer look at the economies and cultures of such places.

Mike Moran has worked as a news and sports reporter, and news manager for the past 30 years, in markets that include Rochester, New York; Colorado Springs; Panama City, Florida and Monroe, Louisiana. He also teaches Speechmaking at Mesa State College and assists his wife, Toni Heiden, in managing her real estate company in downtown Grand Junction. Mike is active in Kiwanis Club of Grand Junction, the Mesa State MBA Alumni Committee, Habitat for Humanity, the United Way and the Botanical Gardens of Western Colorado.
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