Virtual Business Roundtable Inspires Ideas, Builds Connections

Virtual Business Roundtable Inspires Ideas, Builds Connections

The challenges of the past year have generated some positive innovations. Case in point: the Chamber’s Virtual Business Roundtable, a casual Monday-afternoon forum for discussion, problem-solving, and networking. All members are invited to participate in these one-hour sessions that provide productive business tips, with special emphasis on strategies that work in the virtual marketplace.

As a newer member, Amy Rosenfeld of Thryv has built strong networking relationships through the Virtual Roundtables. “I joined the Chamber towards the beginning of the pandemic and the virtual meetings have been a convenient way to get connected with others,” she says. “The Roundtables have provided the opportunity to spend time with people I otherwise didn’t know and learn more about them and what they do.  I have met many people who I’ve been able to refer to others.”

The virtual setting presents some distinct advantages, like the convenience of attending online.  Barry Brownstone, Sears Garage Doors, notes that the use of small breakout rooms leads to more productive, interactive conversations.  “At an in-person event, there’s a tendency to only talk to people you know,” comments Barry. “The Zoom breakout rooms force you to connect with new people. I’ve spoken with a lot of members I never would have met otherwise.”

The Virtual Roundtable developed quickly after the lockdown, when small business owners were feeling both anxious and isolated.  Building on the Chamber’s established Small Office/Home Office meeting format, Membership Director Kathi Quinn partnered with tech-savvy PJ Weiland, ActionCOACH, to give members a virtual place to meet, share information, and discuss challenges.

“When the pandemic started, many of our members were looking for a support system,” recalls Kathi. “We held meetings twice a week to help people get up to speed on Zoom, talk about evolving rules, and stay connected. It provided continuity for businesses to cope with the changes caused by the pandemic.”

As members adjusted to the “new normal”, the Roundtables transitioned to meeting each Monday, except for weeks that include a First Friday breakfast. Based on participant feedback, discussions rotated between strategies for business growth, marketing, and technology use.

“I love the Monday Virtual Business Roundtable sessions,” shares Beth Chemers, Northbrook Living Magazine. “In addition to being a chance to network with other business owners, it is a great opportunity to learn about any given topic. The roundtables are well orchestrated and a great use of an hour on a Monday afternoon.”

The Virtual Business Roundtable meets at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays and is free of charge for members. Visit the Chamber website’s Events Calendar to register.