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Connecting you to information and tools is one of the ways we work to help your business succeed. Find recaps of event speakers, fact & data, and business tips and ideas within these blogs.


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Top tags: technology  trends  business future  ROI  benefits  body language  communication  connections  customer service  education  growth  innovation  internet of things  internships  mentors  mentorship  microsoft  morning business builder  office market  presentations  social media  students  value  young execs 

The Value of Internships: Our Intern Reflects

Posted By Sara Garner, Friday, March 4, 2016

As we're are preparing to enter the selection process for our next summer intern, I'm thinking about Lucia Dorantes from Ballard High School and Michaela Rutschow from Chief Sealth High School (exciting for me since Sealth is my alma mater - how cool is that?) our stellar interns from the previous two summers. I recall the initial concern that having a high school intern would create more work to manage. I couldn't have been more wrong. While they did require supervision, they added much fun and energy to our office and helped us get more projects done including things that have been in the "parking lot" (you know what I mean).

Michaela's reflection of her time with us is below but before we get to that, I'd like to ask your business to consider hosting a student intern. The Seattle Public Schools Academies Programs: Academy of Finance, and Academy of Hospitality & Tourism, the excellent program that made it possible to have our interns is now accepting applicationsThis is a great opportunity to benefit your organization with a low-cost, high value worker for the summer, and at the same time provide a learning opportunity for a student. To find out how your company can host an intern, contact Joanne Patrick, Academy Coordinator at 206-252-0745 (she's great to work with too!).

Michaela Rutschow, Chief Sealth International High School  

From the moment Lucia [Lucia Dorantes interned with us the previous summer] talked about the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce on a panel, I knew it was something special. She spoke as if it was the best thing that could have happened and I wanted so get a closer look at what she spent her summer doing. I knew that I was going to apply to an internship that the academy provided, I just didn't  know which one. I'm going to be honest; finance isn't my passion. I do love the idea of business ethics and the entrepreneurial side of things, but numbers aren't  my strong suit. When I heard the Chamber was in fact offering an internship and Sealth students were allowed to apply, I was ecstatic! They were looking to hire an intern to continue to revamp their website, work on their social media, and of course other general office tasks. I knew that I had a shot at the internship because I had a brief background in managing web material and working in an office.

When the time came around for the interview I was of course nervous, but I was so excited to show what I had to offer. I was the last person to be interviewed and I thought that the interview had gone great. Sara and I had some great things to relate about and I was very happy to have had the opportunity to interview. One week later I found out that I had received the internship and on May 12, 2015 accepted my offer. I was buzzing that I had the internship that I have had my eyes on since that fall.

My first day was very much like an orientation, getting to know my seven other co-workers and expectations of the work place. I learned that Betty Nokes was the President of the Chamber and that the Chamber serves as a voice for businesses providing leadership, influence, programs and partnerships that advance Bellevue. Sara Garner was my supervisor and had a great demeanor which made it easy to ask questions for any other help that I may have needed. That went for all my other co-workers. They all had tasks, but were very willing to help when I needed it whether it was revising an article or showing me how to reformat a copied picture in the printer.

From this helpful environment I was able to have a positive outlook on coming back the next day and the weeks following. I learned basic office things like how to work a large Xerox machine and editorial things such as market plans and script writing. Working at the Chamber has given me more confidence in my writing ability. It has made me realize the importance of how I use my words and how they may come across. It has opened my eyes to what I want to do later in life and how my writing ability may impact my ability to do my job. I learned new styles of writing and how to format for different situations. Writing for social media was completely different than writing for a press release. In Academy we had a course in Entrepreneurship. From this course I carried over my knowledge of making a plan for social media marketing and how to use it effectively. I can now take my new writing skills and incorporate them with any future business related courses when writing for specific things.

The Chamber is always busy with the next event, reaching out to members, or just working hard. Sometimes I would finish a job faster than Sara was able to go over which made me be proactive and ask for other jobs that I could work on while I was waiting. It made me manage my time wiser because I didn't  want to waste Sara's time and I wanted to make sure I wasn't cutting myself short. When someone was busy and I needed their help, I made sure 100% that I could not do it on my own and then I would ask the next best person for help. At the Chamber everyone was willing to help and work together on projects. Whenever we had an event I would bounce from one thing to another helping whoever needed it. We would work as a team to get things done quickly and efficiently.

On the 28th of August I marked my calendar as my last day at the Chamber. It was a bittersweet moment of leaving the best internship imaginable and being able to have a little bit of summer vacation left. I will never forget the food truck event of sitting in the hot sun while listening to Creme Tangerine, a rock tribute band, or that moment when I heard my script being read in front of many business professionals during a luncheon. It was there I learned how to work a monster Xerox machine and prepare to send out over 200 envelopes in a day. I would have never traded in the three and a half hour daily commute for a job where I met so many amazing people, gained amazing skills and had a summer filled with great events.

Tags:  education  internships  students 

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20 Tips for Creating, Growing and Profiting from Your Social Media Channels

Posted By Sara Garner, Tuesday, February 9, 2016












  “Consumers have never been more connected – but it’s never been harder
to connect with them.” – Tom Daly, Coca-Cola

Social Media as a way to connect with your customers can offer your business greater returns and more insights into their needs and interests than any other method.  Jared Nieuwenhuis, Marketing Director at Her Interactive, recently spoke to Chamber members about the pervasiveness of social media (3 out of 4 people use social media at least once a month and 73% of the US population has at least one social network profile)

First, a few trends to get you thinking about the where and how – video is taking over the social landscape and is a powerful way to tell your story, mobile is king, and there is a lot of shared content that goes into a void or what is called dark social (SnapChat grew by almost 57% in 2014). Jared advised each business to first decide their overall goals to achieve through social media, second, decide which channels to use for the greatest return. This doesn’t mean your business has to be everywhere – understand where your audience wants to interact with you. Wherever you are be sure to make the most what the social channel is designed to do, which leads back to connecting with your customers.

Jared has these 20 tips on your way to creating a social media strategy to ultimately grow your reach and add more value to the bottom line (see more details in Jared’s presentation):

#1 Your #1 goal is engagement

#2 It’s not about your spam

#3 Think of people as part of your brand and not as consumers

#4 Think strategic first

#5 Align strategy with your goals and metric – i.e. do you want to achieve more site visitors? Subscribers? Get more engagement? Drive revenue?

#6 Create a social media calendar – a roadmap is essential for success

#7 Quality post and daily updates – be sure you are using your channel(s) with enough frequency they do not get stale

#8 Engage in real interactions and respond to everything in 24 hours – show that yours is a brand that cares

#9 Be authentic and human – have a personality

#10 Zero in on customer interests, needs and suggestions

#11 Help users find you content with hashtags (they are not just for Twitter)

#12 Use consistent branding for all channels

#13 Always be growing your advocates

#14 Always be rewarding your advocates

#15 Empower video influencers

#16 Know your data

#17 Know your influencers

#18 Measure ROI – Social Annex will help you measure ROI whether that’s $$, calls generated, web visits, or inquiries generated

#19 Learn from your competitors

#29 Don’t be afraid to take risks


Credits: Jared Nieuwenhuis, @JNinsight;;
Competition and playing games run deep in Jared Nieuwenhuis’ veins. As a child he was a dedicated soccer player, ultimately playing in college and professionally in Europe. He now embraces that love of gaming as marketing director of Her Interactive, where he sets the global marketing and communications strategy for the company’s mystery adventures games aimed at females, and executes new product launches of the company’s popular Nancy Drew titles.


Tags:  social media 

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Happy 2016! The Value of "I"

Posted By Sara Garner, Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Value of “I” is all about you! As we begin the New Year take a few moments to see how you can increase your “I” value. The Bellevue Chamber provides a collective platform that allows members and their employees to take advantage of a variety of options. Pick one or select them all. You decide what matters most to keep you connected and in the know.

Information: Take advantage of our new Data Driven market metrics. You can use this unique source of information to find customers, compare yourself to others in the industry. Information is continually updates and available for a one-time use or subscription pricing. Click here for more information.

Issues: Support a thriving local economy. Join a policy committee to learn more about issues that can enhance or impact your business. Committees focus on top priorities for the Eastside and the region. Help tackle the issues and be a community builder for the future. Click here to be in the know.

Impact/Influence: Influence a business-friendly environment. Join us on a trip to Olympia for candid conversations with our legislators. This trip offers a great opportunity to see our lawmakers at work – and gives them the opportunity to hear from business leaders on our top priorities (transportation, education and positive business operating environment). Click here to join us.

Insights & Intelligence: Get face to face with key executives at The Business Lunch. In addition to learning about an amazing company it is a great opportunity to meet other key movers and shakers in the room without having to get an appointment on their calendar. Insights are also gleaned on business approaches to thrive in today’s marketplace. Save the Date for the next Business Lunch January 28.

Introductions: Create opportunities to build a local network. “90 minutes every Wednesday morning” the Business Builder breakfast provides you access to  business, the opportunity to toot your own horn and leave with everyone’s business card without having to ask for one. These introductions turn into a great referral source. Click here to join us at an upcoming Morning Business Builder. Here's what one of our members is saying...

Investment without participation: Gain visibility via marketing channels that offer great reach (our popular e-newsletter boasts an impressive open rate) to a business audience. Take advantage of advertising and sponsorship opportunities that can advertise and market your business without involvement. Click here to learn more.

So, if you want to know what’s in it for you – check out these easy options that can return the value of “I” to your company.

Tags:  benefits  connections  ROI  value 

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Success Ensues

Posted By Gary Guenther, Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Message from Outgoing Board Chair Gary Guenther

A short twelve months ago, the theme of my incoming Chair letter was "Collaborate for Success." Viewing the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce from the Chair's seat for the past year, I've been able to see this collaboration in action, and now more than ever believe that the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce is an outstanding way to surround yourself with, and connect with, the right people, expertise, information, and tools to take back to your companies and ultimately leverage to your company’s success.

I also believe that by getting involved in the Chamber's rich array of offerings, you can find tremendous tangible and intangible returns for yourself and your business. To paraphrase Victor Frankel, you can't aim at success, it must ensue as a side effect of a cause greater than one's self. I believe that the Bellevue Chamber is a cause through which you can find numerous rewards. We have so many ways for you to engage, and through this engagement you have a great opportunity to bring success to your professional and personal life.

Over the past year, the Chamber Board of Directors and the Chamber staff have been working hard to provide our members many opportunities for personal and professional growth via many outstanding programs.  A few that I would like to highlight include:

  • The Eastside Leadership Conference. Once again we were educated and entertained by a variety of extremely smart and talented speakers. If you want to be enlightened and stay ahead of the latest technological trends, this is an event that you must have on your calendar.

  • Our Spirit of Bellevue Run/Walk had a record number of participants, and not only provided an outstanding health and wellness opportunity for the community and businesses, but also helped provide college scholarship opportunities via the proceeds.

  • Via our Advocacy Group, the Bellevue Chamber continues to be a leader in Eastside public policy discussions affecting the business community and provide a voice for our members on a wide range of issues at the local, regional, state and federal levels of government.

  • Our Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) is an incredibly rewarding  opportunity to give back and help mentor students in grades 6-12 who are working on their very own startups.
  • Additionally, we are continually working on business solutions and programs that will help you grow and prosper in a fast-paced, technology-focused economy. 

The Chamber is an extension of your business; its tools, resources, and people can help success ensue for you and your company.  I encourage you to get involved, and along with other members grow your opportunities for success.

I look forward to seeing you at the Eastside Annual Dinner on September 29th to hear more about our accomplishments and plans for the future.


Gary Guenther
Kidder Mathews
Bellevue Chamber of Commerce
2015-2016 Past Chair

Tags:  growth  ROI 

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It's Called Networking for a Reason

Posted By Sara Garner, Friday, September 11, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 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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Mentorship is for Anyone and Anyone Can be a Mentor

Posted By Sara Garner, Thursday, August 20, 2015

By Michaela Rutschow, Membership & Marketing Intern

What does mentorship mean to you? Is it in a group setting? Is it with someone you meet and have coffee with? Is it a mixture of both of those things? These questions made for interesting conversation at the Chamber’s weekly Morning Business Builder. Members spoke of different aspects of mentorship, varying from personal experiences of giving/receiving mentorship.

During the session many people gave tips on finding a mentor including:

  • Anyone can be a mentor - and you can learn from anyone.
  • Don’t limit yourself to just one professional mentor. There are so many great people just waiting to share their knowledge, even if they don’t know it yet.
  • Group mentorship is just as beneficial as one-on-one mentorship. Find a group for some great input (hint, hint - come to the next Morning Business Builder)!

These tips serve as a great stepping stone in finding a productive and professional mentoring relationship. If you would like to be mentored, just remember to be open and accepting of anything to help you progress in whatever you desire.

While talking about mentors, the value of coaching and consulting was brought up during the meeting. Coaches make sure you adapt the proper behavior to achieve your goals. They give you lifelong skills and habits to use in the future. Consultants on the other hand give you the specific steps to achieve your goals. The difference between the two is that one prepares you with the skills to use in the future, while the other gives you a simple shortcut to achieve specifically what you want. If you mentor someone, remember that you are giving out advice to someone to help them grow professionally and in return you will learn new things ass well. Also remember that you too have once been mentored so you should be patient and be willing to share your knowledge.

Finding a great mentor or a group of people you can meet with is very beneficial to have. Mentorship will allow you to grow whether it is you giving the advice or being on the receiving end. You can learn just as much if you mentor someone than they can learn from you. Never turn down an opportunity to learn and share that knowledge you may harbor.

If you would like to be a part of similar discussions, visit to reserve your spot at the next Morning Business Builder!

Tags:  mentors  mentorship  morning business builder 

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Honing Presentation Skills Can Help You in Work and in Life

Posted By Sara Garner, Thursday, August 20, 2015

By Michaela Rutschow, Membership & Marketing Intern

Do you remember the best presentation you’ve ever experienced or someone who really resonated with you? Have you wondered what you can do to be just as impactful? During a Young Execs program session last month Amy Hedin, CEO & Founder of HumanPoint, focused on public speaking and how to prepare for a powerful presentation. Throughout her presentation Amy gave many good tips on how to not only impress others with your presenting skills, but also how to present yourself with confidence in any situation. Check out these tips:

Pay attention to body language to lay a powerful foundation.  

Body language is a powerful form of nonverbal communication. With this in mind, it is important to know what body language conveys so that we may use it to our advantage. For example, Amy said that standing with your feet crossed or together may communicate weakness or nervousness, whereas if you plant your feet 4-6 inches apart, you look strong and capable. Keeping eye contact is important when you first meet someone or are giving a presentation because it also portrays confidence.

Approach your presentation like you would any other project.Amy suggested a simple 7 step process as a way to prepare a powerful presentation.

  1. Write a purpose for your presentation. If you create a clear purpose it allows you to hone in on what you need and want to accomplish which leads to the next step.
  2. Write out your desired outcomes such as “Do you want a promotion or a new client?”
  3. Identify a key message so that you can portray a point you want to make.
  4. Write and re-write a copy of your presentation until you are happy with it. Be happy with your draft because it gives you inspiration and peace of mind when trying to complete a final presentation.
  5. Memorize your content, but not until you are happy with it. Once you are happy with it, make sure to above all memorize the key points of your presentation.
  6. Rehearse. It is so important to rehearse because it allows you to become familiar with your slides and notice things such as your body language and your timing.
  7. The last step is to prepare multiple versions of your presentation because you never know when you will be asked to cut your 20 minute presentation to just 10 minutes.

So now you are ready and have an amazing presentation - what's next? The skills you adapt for a great presentation, such as your body language, allow you to go out in other social settings and be conscious of how you look to other people. It is the small things like sitting in a meeting or a short talk in the hall that allows others to see you out of the spotlight and how you interact with others. It allows them to see your true character. Gaining these skills will positively impact the way you feel amount yourself and how other people see you.

If you would like to watch an example of a great presentation here’s a TED Talk that Amy suggested. When asked what she thought the best speech ever was, Amy said Steve Jobs delivered a knockout speech for the unveiling of the first iPhone which you can watch here.

Tags:  body language  presentations  young execs 

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Bellevue Chamber Foundation Scholarships

Posted By Dan Goodman, Monday, August 3, 2015

The Bellevue business community understands that an excellent education supports our future workforce. To acknowledge the efforts of outstanding students, the Bellevue Chamber Foundation, with support from Washington Federal, Legacy Sponsor of the Bellevue Chamber’s 2014 Spirit of Bellevue Run/Walk and other community partners, has awarded three $1,500 scholarships to Bellevue School District graduating seniors. Awards were presented at the Bellevue Chamber Business Lunch on July 16.

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Bellevue's Dynamic Economy

Posted By Dan Goodman, Thursday, July 30, 2015

Tech like our weather is hot! The Eastside and the Puget Sound region are fortunate to be a center of tech innovation. Todd Bishop, co-founder of GeekWire, highlighted key trends from the tech sector, gave us the scoop on this fast-paced and growing innovation economy, and provided insight on how your business can engage in the evolving tech marketplace. Check out his full presentation.

Tags:  business future  innovation  technology  trends 

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The Future of Business: 2025

Posted By Sara Garner, Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future took the concepts and advances that were discussed earlier in the day at the 2015 Eastside Leadership Conference and put them in a business context during this keynote. He described how we are moving into a world where tech advances are becoming more fully integrated with the human experience. How will these technological advances impact business? His presentation was both enlightening and thought provoking. The entire video is 55 minutes.


Tags:  business future  technology  trends 

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