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WNC Business

Expanding your network expands opportunities for success

Apr 29, 2024 07:04AM ● By Randee Brown

Small business can be all about who you know, and one way to get to know the right people to conduct business with is by becoming a member of your local chamber of commerce. According to Henderson County Chamber of Commerce Operations Manager Amy Muniz, chamber membership can help boost small businesses.

Chamber participation can serve many purposes. Some small business owners join for support in starting their new business, and some join to learn how to grow in services offered or the number of employees they have. Educational business workshops and resources are offered by many chambers, and chambers also help facilitate growth by advocating on behalf of businesses, in areas from public policy to community improvements.

Networking events are a large part of many chambers’ offerings. Becoming an active participant in a chamber of commerce can create relationships, encouraging warm leads, and helping generate new business. The variety of networking events offers great ways to meet new people, and Muniz said there are a variety of special-interest networking groups in Henderson County in addition to the regular networking events which include:

  • Business After Hours — Business After Hours is the Chamber's premier networking event and the best chance to make valuable connections to build your business.

  • AM Power Hour — For early birds, this event is an opportunity to find a strong referral source, a new vendor, the perfect client, or simply get a foot in the door for connecting again later at another Chamber event. 

  • Business Morning Update — This monthly event features several speakers on timely community events and issues affecting our business community. 

  • GROW Mills River — Updates from the Town of Mills River and networking with neighboring businesses.

  • Young Professionals of Henderson County — The YPHC's Monthly Social offers a chance for those professionals under 40 to meet through a laid-back networking opportunity. 

Henderson County Chamber President Bob Williford said while networking events are a great way to reconnect and get updates from people in the community, it is a good idea to always meet a few new people and expand your network, especially in the beginning stages of a business.

“If you want to be successful, the best way to approach networking events is to go in with a goal,” Williford said. “Some people always talk to the same people, and it’s nice to have strong relationships, but it’s a good idea to meet three to five people you haven’t met before. Developing a network that may lead to more business in the long term is always beneficial.”

Networking events occur regularly, and people are likely to see many of the same facesat the same events. Muniz and Williford agree that consistent attendance is important because while there are many regulars at events like the monthly Business After Hours, over the course of multiple years, the crowd will have changed completely. For example, during a business’s early stages, the owners may be regulars, and four to five years down the road, the leadership team may have replaced the owners as attendees. New members also join regularly.

“The Chamber has been doing After Hours for years,” Muniz said. “It’s the easiest for most people to attend, and is the best thing for meeting new people and making new contacts. It’s a no-pressure, drop-in event, and attendees are encouraged to bring a friend or a coworker if that makes them feel more comfortable. Once they’ve done it, it’s easier for them to come back again.”

Chamber ambassadors help make event newcomers feel comfortable as well, according to Muniz, and they look for fresh faces at events. Each new Chamber member is paired with an ambassador who will invite them to events, introduce them to community members, and help determine how best they can be served by their Chamber membership.

The Henderson County Chamber also works with other chambers of commerce in the area. Regional networking events are held multiple times each year to allow small business leaders to expand their network into surrounding counties, and Chamber leaders share programming ideas for how they can help their members to be successful.

“The entire region can be more successful if we all work together,” Williford said.

In addition to networking opportunities, area chambers of commerce offer events and programs like workshops, resources, pitch parties, political updates, workforce development programs, community initiatives, and more. For more information about Henderson County and other area chambers of commerce as well as additional small business support, visit