Telling Stories and Providing Solutions, One Member At a TimeChamber Connection — By Michael Dalby on May 24, 2013 at 8:00 am
The Columbus Chamber has a new approach to the way we service our members. This new approach includes one-to-one consultative support, providing the right connections, resources and solutions to help our member businesses thrive in the Columbus region.
How do we do it? With a great team of passionate, business-minded professionals connecting our members to business intelligence, advocating for them at the local, state and federal levels, and providing customized business solutions. This team includes Christy Bertolo, one of our member resources specialists at the Chamber.
Christy is a connector− whether it’s to the latest market research, advice on the latest social media trends, potential clients, or how to hire an intern.
In this article, she answers some questions she frequently receives in her role.
What do members say is the the most valuable benefit of membership?
We’re really a relationship-oriented Chamber and truly have one goal: to help businesses thrive. The more I know about a member the more I can help. Sometimes it may be referring them, or sending them an article that I read that they may be interested in, or helping to promote their upcoming event through social media and different networks.
All of these require almost no time from my members other than our first initial meeting. We are not a “one size fits all” Chamber. We do our best to offer customized solutions as fast as we can.
You can have a major impact on the success of a large number of the region’s businesses. How many members are you able to connect with per week?
In a typical week, I have approximately six to nine face-to-face meetings with members, as well as conversations with an additional 30 throughout the week via email or phone. I have 90 different industries represented in my community, ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises, and women- and minority-owned businesses. Every day is a new adventure and I often know of resources that could help my members, regardless of the situation.
What are some of the most common business challenges, and how can the Columbus Chamber offer resources to overcome those?
The number one challenge I hear is “time,” and many people assume the Chamber can’t help with that. But this is one area where we definitely can help! I often tell my members before you spend 20 to 30 minutes trying to find it online, spend one minute and call or email me.
Often times, I have access to whatever you are looking for and can save you a lot of time and headache trying to find it yourself. Questions range from locating the best resources to include in a recruitment guide, where to post an internship, utilizing best practices for creating press releases, or creating a research list of companies within Franklin County with 20 to 200 employees.
What is the most unusual request you have gotten from a member, and how did the Columbus Chamber provide a solution?
Most of the requests we receive may seem unusual! A lot of members will rely on me to help find them information. Because of the credibility of the Columbus Chamber, many companies will provide me with information they normally wouldn’t release, knowing I am calling on behalf of another member.
For example, I contacted a state prison warden to find out more about hospice care in prisons, the process and trends. I also received a call from a company who needed to import a large piece of machinery from Poland. Fortunately, I had a few members that could help them go through the process.
What is an example, or two, about how you’ve helped our members save time or money?
I recently had a meeting with a new member and during our conversation they mentioned that they were struggling meeting the demands of their orders with such a small staff and maintaining the level of service they had built their company on. I knew they would benefit meeting one of my members that they could outsource some of their kitting to. They met a few days later and have been working together ever since. Their partnership has continued to evolve and together they’ve now reached new markets.
Every week our research team is able to save my members time with customized reports. While this is available to only Growth Connect Members or higher, many have found great value in this resource. These members can request, via email, reports on wage data for specific jobs, industry lists and market data in their competing markets. We have a lot of local business intelligence that can help.
Is there one thing you wish more members knew about?
I wish more knew that when we say “Call us,” we mean it. It’s really that simple. In my previous career, I wore every hat; I was the HR, payroll, procurement and janitor, and often times spent more money trying to save money than just asking for help. We are here to help our members and are very passionate about what we do.
What about other businesses in the region that are not members yet?
I’d like to ask them one question: “Where else?” Where else will you have access to:
- • Twenty-five people to act as an extension of your staff.
- • Numerous data sources that you can tap into by merely asking.
- • Someone to call when you need help finding a new vendor or partner for your business.
- • An organization that advocates on the behalf of small business, regardless of the industry, and the list goes on.
What is your favorite part about helping Columbus region businesses thrive?
I get to hear the stories first hand, the history of the business, their challenges, successes and failures. I’m a small town girl with big town dreams, and I love helping people. I get the opportunity to work with so many different companies and organizations. I get to brainstorm with nonprofits and help connect them with businesses, which in turn raises more awareness about their causes. I get to connect members with the resources to hire new talent, helping them fill jobs faster. I especially love telling the story. We have amazing companies in the Columbus region with moving stories that too many people have never heard.
Christy Bertolo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-225-6093.
John Vandersall can be reached at email@example.com or 614-225-6915.