SMOKEY POINT — The Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours on Thursday, May 16, drew representatives of credit card services, spas, insurance agencies, Avon and Walmart to the Coastal Community Bank in Smokey Point, as part of what event coordinators see as a growing trend for this monthly get-together.
“How many new businesses’ grand openings have we been to lately?” asked Michele Wiley, chair of the Business After Hours, which meets the third Thursday of every month. “We only started with a couple of businesses’ representatives attending these meetings, but it’s built up to between 25-45 for each Business After Hours.”
Wiley attributes this dramatic increase in attendance to the Chamber’s use of newsletters, online social media such as Facebook, and traditional press such as The Arlington Times, although she was quick to credit the businesses that comprise the Chamber as well.
“Many of our businesses will even advertise these Business After Hours meetings for us,” Wiley said. “The networking opportunities have not only introduced new businesses to lots of other businesses, but they’ve also brought a number of older businesses back into the fold.”
Wiley explained that the Chamber has added ambassadors and done what they can to add variety to the businesses that host and are showcased by the Business After Hours meetings.
“It’s a different mix each time, so you’re not always meeting the same people,” Wiley said. “The Chamber is now asking its businesses, ‘Are you taking advantage of your membership?’ We encourage the businesses who attend to invite their customers as well, so that the customers can network with businesses they might not have met.”
For the June Business After Hours, Wiley is already aiming for an outdoor barbecue, to take advantage of the summer weather that might otherwise diminish the meeting’s attendance.
“We are committed to supporting the businesses in our community,” Wiley said.