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Build strong business networking skills

March 11, 2024

Through my many years in the chamber business, networking skills are essential for building relationships, expanding your knowledge, and growing your business. So many times, at events where networking opportunities present themselves folks tend to stay in their comfort zone, only hanging with their friends, which in essence is not effective networking.

When coming to an event, it is always good to establish specific goals such as meeting a certain number of new contacts, connecting with industry influencers, or learning about a particular topic. Have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve from our and/or any networking event, prepare your elevator pitch, and bring plenty of business cards.

A key initiative is always to focus on building relationships by actively listening to others, asking questions, and showing genuine interest in their work. After the event, follow up with the people you connected with. Send a personalized email or connect on LinkedIn to continue the conversation and strengthen the relationship. Offer help or share resources with your contacts to demonstrate your expertise, and build trust and value.

Don’t limit yourself to people in your industry or profession. Connect with individuals from different backgrounds and industries to gain perspectives and opportunities. Use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your industry, share valuable content, and engage in industry discussions. Share your knowledge and expertise through blogs, articles, podcasts, or speaking engagements to establish yourself as a thoughtful leader in your industry.

A very important characteristic is to be yourself and show genuine interest in others. Authenticity can help you build stronger and more meaningful connections. Remember, networking is a long-term investment, so focus on building relationships and providing value rather than just seeking immediate benefits. Keep nurturing your network over time, and you’ll see the benefits in your business growth and opportunities.

Chamber activities

Networking at Noon Lunch (member event): 11:45 a.m.–1 p.m., Wednesday, March 13 at Dough Bar Restaurant & Pizzeria, 520 King St., Punta Gorda. A delicious buffet will be served.

Third Wednesday Coffee (member event): 8–9 a.m., Wednesday, March 20 (LOCATION CHANGE) Realtor Association Building, 3320 Loveland Blvd., Port Charlotte. Coffee sponsor: Suncoast One Title & Closings. Program: State of the County Address, presented by Charlotte County Administrator Hector Flores and Charlotte County Economic Development Director Dave Gammon. You don’t want to miss this very informative presentation of what’s happening and developing in our community.

Coffee & Chat (member event): 9–10:30 a.m., Thursday, March 21, 3320 Loveland Blvd., Port Charlotte. Topic: Master of Networking, presented by Frank Menard, seasoned coach and speaker. Get an interactive class focused on personal networking skills, key strategies, avoiding disconnects, and building quality relationships.

Business Card Exchange (member event): 5–7 p.m., Thursday, March 28 at the Visual Arts Center, 210 Maude St., Punta Gorda. Appetizers, beer, wine and soft drinks will be provided. Fun and games of course. Bring a gift to promote your business. Don’t forget your business cards.

Registration is requested for all events. To RSVP, visit or call the chamber office at 941-627-2222.

Ribbon Cuttings

Ribbon cuttings are an effective way to meet the business owners (and fellow chamber members) in an informal atmosphere and develop great connections. Plus, you get familiar with their products and services provided. Please take the time to show your support and attend our ribbon cuttings!

Registration is requested for all events. To RSVP, visit or call the chamber office at 941-627-2222.

Gasparilla Bout Tours (grand opening): 4:30–6 p.m. (ribbon-cutting at 5:00 p.m.)Thursday, March 14 — 6950 Placida Rd., Englewood (Cape Haze Marina). Light appetizers and refreshments will be provided. This will be a dual ribbon-cutting with our friends from the Englewood Chamber.

Crews Bank & Trust: 8:15 a.m. — 9:15 a.m. (ribbon-cutting at 8:30 a.m.) Friday, March 15 at 1100 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte. Continental breakfast and refreshments will be provided. Giveaways. This will be a tri-chamber ribbon cutting with Charlotte County, North Port, and Punta Gorda chambers.

Metropolitan Solutions (new member): 4:30–6:30 p.m. (ribbon-cutting at 5:30 p.m.), Tuesday, March 19 at 16830 Canopy Garden Dr., Port Charlotte. Finger food and refreshments will be provided. This will be a dual ribbon-cutting with our friends from the North Port Chamber.

Special events1st Annual Leadership Charlotte Alumni Reunion (Leadership Charlotte alumni only): 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 21 at TT’s Tiki Bar. All Leadership Charlotte alumni (and a guest) are invited to our 1st Annual LC Alumni Reunion Event! Networking, camaraderie, and a little friendly competition. Heavy appetizers and cash bar will be available. We are asking our alumni to bring two canned goods for donation. There will be bragging rights for the color with the highest stack of cans.

Yell your color from the rooftops by becoming a sponsor. We are looking for six $500 sponsors. We will recognize your business, logo, color and year graduated: GO RED — GO BLUE — GO YELLOW — GO GREEN. Registration is required. Visit

Bob White is executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce.