At our chamber of commerce we had a long-standing habit of holding the meetings of our basic or recurring programs at our offices or at the same locations. With the impending remodeling of our long-outdated building, it became very evident that we had to find a home (or homes) for these events.
Being responsible for the Young Professionals group, I had a double issue: how to energize a troubled program and set an example for the rest of the programs. This also became an opportunity to take our repeating programs out to the membership and sponsors so they could interact with members and prospective members all the while showing off their buildings and capabilities.
What it meant was that each month, our program had a new home and a new speaker. Taking 25 to 30 guests, feeding them lunch and keeping them for an hour to listen to a speaker of interest or inspiration became the template. And it appeared to work: inspirational speakers at the chiropractic college, a young CEO at a bank, a singer at a video production company and an automotive entrepreneur at a classic car showroom. Of the expected attendees (25 to 30 each month) more than half we hadn’t met or seen before. Our basic contact list grew from 75 to almost 200. Internet searches and word of mouth were the methods most cited to finding the program.
We had successfully transported the event from an out-of-date, small space to inviting member spaces while introducing solid, inspiring, interesting speakers to new prospective members and fresh faces. All it took was a motivator (Moving van? Wrecking ball? Homelessness?) and some imagination to get it up and going.
Be sure and collect business cards and take surveys to ensure you are positioning the content and locations to the audience. Always be thinking, asking and staying one step ahead. Try it and if it works, keep at it, but always be open to taking it back or tweaking the formula.
Hopefully, within the next year we will have our new facility and the program will be back for a few appearances. But I think the value of being out in the community among the membership and prospects can’t be replaced. It was worth the experimentation.