Chamber coffee meetings and mixers help build relationships

Individuals wishing to expose their businesses to more professionals in the community are finding both “a.m.” and “p.m.” opportunities to network through the Blount County Chamber of Commerce monthly coffee meetings and quarterly afternoon mixers.

Tammi Ford, executive vice president of communications, said one of the top reasons people give for joining the Chamber is that they want to network and get exposure for their businesses.

“That is why years ago the Chamber started doing monthly coffees on the last Thursday of the month, and then added afternoon mixers,” she said. “All of our sponsorships are booked through this year, and we think there is a waiting list. It is one of the most popular activities we do.”

Julia Kyle, executive vice president of membership, said gatherings help businesses through one-on-one conversations. “It’s an opportunity for members to network and build relationships,” Kyle said.

Ford said with coffee meetings, there are anywhere between 30 and 100 people dropping in, depending on the month. The morning coffee meetings and afternoon mixers can be held at the Chamber on South Washington Street, but often are held at the office of the sponsoring business, whichever the business is more comfortable with.

On Jan. 13, Foothills Bank and Trust hosted the afternoon mixer at their new home office on Keller Lane in Maryville. About 70 to 75 dropped by that afternoon, said Mark Loudermilk, president and CEO of Foothills Bank and Trust.

Loudermilk said he enjoys both attending and hosting the Chamber networking events because it is important for business leaders to come together and exchange ideas and viewpoints about the community and what is happening. “It’s an introduction and connection to the community. Then, for example, when you need a computer specialist, you have a contact, or if you need someone in banking, you’ve met one,” Loudermilk said.

Loudermilk said the Jan. 13 event was a success. “There was a very diverse group of people who got to interact, and they got an opportunity to put faces with names,” he said.

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