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It's Called Networking for a Reason

Posted By Sara Garner, Friday, September 11, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, September 07, 2016
A Message from 2015-2016 Board Chair Tanya Fraioli, Rocketfix

"It’s not called netsitting, or net eating, it’s called networking. You have to work at it." ~ Dr. Ivan Misner

The Bellevue Chamber is many things to many people yet the primary role of the chamber is simple - to help us as businesses get strong and stay strong. The Chamber does this in many ways...From championing our causes in Olympia, to being our voice when construction and roads threaten our business. It doesn’t stop there...the Chamber helps us connect to each other whether it be by holding community social events or recognizing leaders in the community at business events throughout the year. From mentoring our teens and shaping them into entrepreneurs to mentoring our businesses in all aspects from networking to training to showcasing...the Bellevue Chamber is constantly working for you!

This leads me to my story and how I ended up representing all of you as your Bellevue Chamber Board of Directors Chair for 2015-2016.

I was 26 years old and was given the opportunity to take over a family business. Having lived in Boston for almost a decade prior to moving back to Seattle caused me to lose many connections. At 26 I had virtually no business connections whatsoever.

As I embarked on building my business back up, I tried to find and surround myself with the right people that could help me do this. I think I joined almost every group that was out there. One day I stumbled upon the chamber of commerce. There I found myself surrounded by people that were just like me – people who wanted to grow their business and were looking for sounding boards in addition to getting different kinds of training in areas unfamiliar to them.

And this is where the Chamber taught me a valuable lesson - if you are not willing to put in the effort, don't expect anything in return.

At first I would just show up to events, listen to the speaker, pass out a few cards to the friendly faces I saw and then leave. I did this repeatedly with no return on my time investment. Finally after many months I said to myself, I'm around all the companies I want to do business with, what can I do differently? That was the “aha” moment I decided to change things up.    I decided how I was going to spend my time. At the next event I said to myself, I am just going to seek out three people from companies I want to work with. I want to pursue these three, get to know them, see if I can help them and make these quality exchanges.

It worked! Over the year I connected with over 50 businesses and ended up doing business with almost half of them eventually. My company grew from a million in sales to just south of ten million in five years before I sold it to a firm that took it public in 2003.

Today, as I write to you as the new Board Chair - a position I am grateful to have and have worked towards for the past 20 years of my Chamber involvement - I encourage all of you to get involved to be successful. First, you have to be visible in the community, you have to get out there. I encourage all of you to work at it with me this year. I’m looking forward to meeting as many of you as I can and am honored to represent you!

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