Who would have thought on sunny Feb. 27, 2020, that — immediately following a Rays Spring Training game — we would be enjoying our last Charlotte County Chamber Business Card Exchange for more than a year? Not us, but that was the case.

On that fun afternoon we were graciously hosted by the National Cremation Society in Port Charlotte to network, enjoy refreshments, and enjoy the traditional gift exchange. We toured the location, learned about their products and services while we were there, and went on our merry way.

Now, we’ll just skip the next 12 months, OK?

Business Card Exchanges

The next Business Card Exchange is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. April 26 at Dream Salon & Spa, 117 Herald Court in Punta Gorda. Restock your business cards, purchase a fabulous gift exchange item, and remember, shop member-to-member businesses.

The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce has taken great care to follow CDC and DOH recommended health safety guidelines over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. And we continue to do so. This is not only for our own benefit, but to also set the example for our business members.

This will help us all recover and be as successful as possible, in every way, in the long run.

All other member networking events and meetings have continued in one form or another. But the after-hours Business Card Exchange is more or less a social event hosted by a member business to showcase their facility, products and services. They are all about mixing and mingling, shaking hands, chit-chatting, exchanging cards, sharing refreshments, and usually, after-hours adult beverages.

Most attendees bring gifts to promote their business for the fun gift exchange, and a good time is had by all.

Business Card Exchanges, usually held on the fourth Thursday of the month, are the most well-attended business networking events of the chamber. This is why, along with the unstructured aspect, we needed to be cautious about when to again begin scheduling these fun monthly events.

When is now!

Businesses have had time to make the ongoing adjustments needed at their locations, and they understand their unique ability or desire to host events. Individuals understand the precautions needed, and are now accustomed to those adjustments.

Hear ye, hear ye, act fast to get on the schedule to host a monthly Fourth Thursday Business Card Exchange. Dates often end up being booked years (yes, years.) in advance. Call the chamber at 941-627-2222 for more information.

Ribbon cuttings

With the exception of a few months, ribbon-cutting events have continued to be scheduled to celebrate momentous occasions such as business grand openings, location changes and anniversaries. The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce limited its invitations to board members, ChamberACTION Committee members, and staff … but encouraged the celebrating business to continue inviting as many attendees as they felt comfortable having attend.

Many businesses chose to postpone their ribbon cuttings to a later date when more people felt comfortable gathering in groups, and many went ahead, content with a smaller celebration.

Well buckle up! Each and every one of our members will once again be invited to attend ribbon cutting events to celebrate with their fellow chamber members. Monitor the Monday morning Business Online email, Facebook and our website at CharlotteCounty Chamber.org for all Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce scheduled events.

Again, we have been very careful to set the example of following CDC and DOH recommended health and safety guidelines, and we encourage everyone to continue to do the same.

Teri Ashley is the executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, now in its 96th year. She can be reached at 941-627-2222 or at tashley@charlottecountychamber.org