Personal interaction still an important part of doing business

Television didn’t eliminate demand for radio any more than FM radio replaced the AM band or video rentals wiped out movie theaters.

And so far, social media hasn’t yet eliminated organizations that bring people together face to face for a meal or a cup of coffee. Personal networking remains alive and well and an important part of doing business in Mesa County.

In fact, some local organizations have expanded opportunities for interpersonal contact. The Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce, for example, added an event called High Noon Networking the second Thursday of each month. The chamber launched the event in response to comments from people less comfortable with business after hours networking.

Some chamber members said attending a social event after work hours is inconvenient because they have children. Other members said they don’t want to attend an event at which alcohol is served, said Mary Lou Wilson, executive director of the Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce. “There can be a perception that it’s just a drinking group,” she said.

High Noon Networking meetings offer a more comfortable atmosphere for some members. And the business that hosts the luncheon event doesn’t have to worry about a liquor license. Moreover, a light lunch can be a little less costly for a host compared to serving more substantial food in the early evening.

The High Noon meetings have worked well in lieu of economic update luncheons, Wilson said. The next High Noon event is set for 11:30 a.m. Feb. 10 at the Feed Lot Restaurant, 456 Kokopelli Blvd, Unit J, in Fruita.

There’s still high demand for “after hours” events, though. Both the Fruita and Grand Junction chambers of commerce stage such events on a monthly basis. The events are open to members and non-members, although members receive a discount. The admission price includes food and drink.

While online social networking remains an important part of doing business, such networking can produce stronger ties if the first connection is made in person.

“I wait until we’ve met a few times before connecting,” said Jennifer Kettlewell, owner of Kettlewell Enterprises in Grand Junction and a social networker who leads seminars on the subject. “It’s a better relationship.” Kettlewell is also the president of a local BNI chapter.
“Most of the BNI members say it’s the highlight of their week,” she said.

Such organizations are relevant for the techno-savvy younger generation, and Fruita has formed a Grand Valley Young Professionals organization to tap into the under-35 crowd. It’s already started to pay off for general chamber membership. Two members of the young professionals group have joined the Fruita chamber.

“The idea was to mentor young leaders,”  Wilson said.

Future plans in Fruita include a board retreat, where the chamber will discuss a forum on business loans. The discussion is a response to business concerns about how to secure loans during a period of stricter regulations on lending institutions. There could also be more sessions to explain health care reform, such as one staged last year. In addition, a golf tournament is planned for May.