How to Help Your Members Be Networking Pros

Most of your members join the chamber because they want more customers. While the chamber is an excellent place to meet new people, many members don’t know how to build relationships in a way that will help them convert other members into customers. Instead, many of them come off as too salesy and end up annoying those around them. Others are simply too shy to talk about themselves and all the exciting things their business offers.

As a chamber professional, you’re able to help them understand the importance of fostering connections with other members and you’re in an excellent position to help them thrive through networking. You can empower your members to become expert networkers, not just at events, but in all facets of their professional lives, and by doing so, have a poignant impact on their business and career.

While “teaching” networking may feel rudimentary (it should be in every leadership program you put on), it’s a skill so many people need to work on. As a supporter of your members' growth and development, cultivating effective networking skills is paramount. Whether it's fostering connections at chamber events or navigating the intricacies of relationship-building in everyday life, the art of networking can be honed with practice, strategy, and a dash of finesse.

The Value of Networking Training for Chamber Members

By hosting learning events and offering resources on effective networking, you can equip your members with the skills and confidence to build strong relationships that lead to business growth, collaboration, and ultimately, a thriving business community. Remember, networking isn't just about getting something; it's about building genuine connections and creating a mutually beneficial ecosystem for all members.

Investing in networking training offers numerous benefits for your members (and the chamber) including:

Enhanced Visibility and Opportunities

Effective networking opens doors to opportunities, collaborations, and partnerships, ultimately driving business growth and success.

Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration

Networking facilitates the exchange of ideas, best practices, and industry insights, fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation within the community.

Increased Resilience and Adaptability

Building a robust network provides members with a support system they can lean on during challenging times, whether navigating industry changes, economic downturns, or personal career transitions. It also increases their likelihood to remain loyal members of the chamber.

Networking Challenges & Solutions

If you ask your members if they’re good networkers or not, they may say they are proficient. However, if you ask them how many customers they’ve gotten out of networking, they may change their answer. It’s one thing to shake someone’s hand and have a polite conversation. But it’s another to build the kind of relationship that makes that person interested in buying from you.

Just as businesses partaking in social media should have a strategy, your members need a networking strategy to help convert prospects to sales and build high-quality relationships. For many, labeling a relationship as a networking strategy seems boorish. But everything a business owner does for their business should be strategic. There are simply not enough hours in the day to stroll around waiting for opportunities to drop into their lap.

As a chamber pro who wants to help members become more savvy networkers, you’ll first have to convey a need for it and make your assistance more appealing from a marketing perspective. You may need to call networking something else. Talk about what’s in the session for them. What outcomes will occur? Labeling it as “Networking 101” may turn some people off. Your members who need it the most may be reluctant (or unable) to see it.

Next, you’ll need to overcome some of the most common impediments your members are likely facing to make networking a smoother part of their professional lives.

Addressing Introversion

Some members may be naturally introverted and feel drained by large gatherings. Others may have social anxiety and avoid crowds.

Solution: It’s important when working with introverts to understand they don’t need to be “fixed.” But you can give them some effective tips on becoming better networkers by making the most of their time.

Offer smaller, focused networking events or "coffee chat" pairings to ease them in. Encourage them to set specific goals (e.g., connect with 3 people). Additionally, you can host lunch and learns focused on building confidence, effective communication, and overcoming social anxiety. If people don’t sign up for them, consider how you might host it virtually for a degree of anonymity. Some people are open about their social anxiety. Some are not.

Breaking the Ice

Awkward first interactions can be a barrier. No one wants to be reminded of being the kid in middle school with no one to sit with at lunch.

Solution: Provide icebreaker activities or conversation starters like "networking bingo" with prompts about member businesses. Additionally, instruct your staff or ambassadors to look for that awkward person standing by themselves and strike up a conversation with them. Next, introduce them to someone else and a few more people. By the end of the event, they have new connections.

Following Up

Networking doesn't end when the event concludes. Turning connections into relationships requires follow-up. After all, relationships (business or personal) don’t catch fire right away. They need to be nurtured. Encourage members to follow up promptly with new contacts, whether through email, LinkedIn, or a personalized note. Consistent follow-through demonstrates reliability and commitment to nurturing relationships.

Solution: Host lunch and learns about effective post-event communication strategies like personalized emails or connecting on LinkedIn.

Mastering the Digital Divide

Don’t forget to address tips on digital networking. Some people don’t have time to attend in-person networking events. Online webinars and events are growing in popularity as a quick, convenient place to learn a lot and meet new people. But only if they can “master the chat.”

Solution: Provide resources and guidance on leveraging digital platforms for networking, including optimizing LinkedIn profiles, participating in online forums, and engaging in virtual networking and learning events.

Adopting a Networking Mindset

Shifting from a transactional mindset to one focused on relationship-building can be challenging for some members. While the end goal in networking for business may be getting a new customer, in the short term, it’s about building a relationship.

Solution: Offer training sessions that emphasize the long-term benefits of networking, highlighting success stories and tangible outcomes achieved through meaningful connections. People don’t buy from the best salesperson with the slickest use of industry buzzwords. They buy from those they know and trust.

Actionable Networking Tips

Need a few tips to help your members be better networkers? Who doesn't? Use these as part of a networking info webinar or lunch and learn, create an infographic with the ideas, or simply share them through social media.

As you do, you are playing a very important role in your members professional lives as well. You are helping members see the value in:

Being a Connector, Not a Collector

Networking isn't about collecting business cards. It's about connecting people with shared interests, solving others’ problems, and fostering collaboration. Encourage members to identify potential connections within the chamber and then you can introduce them.

Active Listening

Make sure they know not to just talk about themselves. Encourage them to be an active listener, ask thoughtful questions, and show genuine interest in others' businesses and goals. They should make the objective good conversation. The sale will follow.


People connect with stories. Encourage members to craft a compelling elevator pitch that memorably showcases their business.

Body Language

At the risk of sounding like a parent (no slouching!), any networking session should address the importance of maintaining good posture, eye contact, and projecting a friendly demeanor. Non-verbal cues say a lot. It can be a fun exercise to show people what not to do.

Better yet, create a few fun Reels about the “Negative Networker Ned” and all the no-nos he performs. Hilarity ensues.

Focus on Value Exchange

Networking isn't a one-way street. Think about how you can provide value to others, whether it's a helpful introduction, industry insights, or simply a listening ear.

Planning and Purpose

Before stepping into any networking opportunity, encourage members to set clear objectives. What do they hope to achieve? Who are the key individuals they want to connect with? Having a game plan in mind can guide interactions and maximize outcomes.

Authentic Connections

Authenticity is one of the foundational blocks of a meaningful relationship. Encourage members to share their passions, expertise, and aspirations genuinely (and ask others about theirs, reserving judgment and just being a good, supportive peer). Genuine connections are more likely to yield long-term benefits than transactional exchanges.

Diverse Networking Channels

Networking shouldn't be confined to chamber events. Encourage members to think about relationship building in every aspect of their lives. As a business owner or employee, they are always representing their company. They can meet a new customer in a grocery line or at a kid’s baseball game using the same networking lessons you’ve helped them with.

Additionally, encourage them to explore diverse channels, including online communities, industry forums, and social media platforms. As mentioned earlier, virtual networking can be just as valuable as face-to-face interactions.

By equipping chamber members with the tools, strategies, and confidence to become expert networkers, you play a pivotal role in building a thriving community. With these suggestions, your members will learn it's not just about who you know, but how deeply you're able to connect and collaborate with others.


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