CHAMBER WEEK: Langley offers year-round education and networking options

TONIGHT: Lunch, coffee, and dinner meetings tackle issues pertinent to a growing business community.

Whether it be a workshop, networking session, lunch chat with lead politicians, or the monthly dinner chamber meeting, Colleen Clark is insistent every person walk away with at least one nugget of new or helpful information to help grow their business.

It’s consistently the key motivator every time she and chamber event coordinator Jaclyn Van Den Berg ponder speakers or topics for the multitude of gatherings hosted by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce each month.

For instance, Clark recognized that January can typically be a time to make resolutions. If someone has failed to accomplish those selected goals by this point, they might put off trying again until next year.

She’s hopeful guest speaker Scott Armstrong from Limitless might ignite what he calls high performance “habitude” during this week’s monthly chamber dinner meeting at the Cascades Casino.

“It’s time to re-jump start your year,” Clark said, inviting business people to attend the meeting tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 20).

The monthly dinner meetings typically attract at least 100 people, sometimes more – depending on the subject matter or the individuals speaking, Clark explained.

For instance, she’s expecting a large turn out for February, but bigger yet for March.

The March meeting will feature the popular Langley Leadership Panel, Clark explained, which always draws strong attendance.

Both MPs are in Ottawa at the time, but the two main MLAs, as well as both City and Township mayors are on the card to speak.

“I always hope there’s a take away,” from these meetings, Clark reiterated, when explaining plans for the rest of the spring and summer meetings.

She’s hoping to delve into a few of the more important and timely subjects to Langley commerce such as transit, the business of sport, cyber security, finding workers, affordable housing, managing cannabis, and the pros and cons of the film business.

Given the wide-reaching impact of all these topics on the community, and in particular the local economy, Clark hopes to engage even more people by bringing varied and differing opinions to the forefront through panel discussions.

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Intimate chats with leaders

A new initiative last year was the Coffee & Conversation meetings that began last year.

This is a member-only event, where Langley’s business community is given “serious face-time” at an intimate gathering with local elected representatives over a bag lunch at the chamber’s boardroom.

Initially, the meetings were expected to happen monthly. But Clark said scheduling became difficult, and the chamber staff found themselves too busy with other events during the summer months.

So, a decision has been made, Clark said, to focus these events between January and June.

Langley MLA Mary Polak, for instance, sat down with members last Friday, Feb. 16. Meanwhile, Langley City Mayor Ted Schaffer will speak at the following Coffee & Conversation on Thursday, Feb. 22.

Liberal MP John Aldag, representing Cloverdale-Langley City, will be participating on Monday, March 5, and Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas – the legislative speaker – will be speaking on Friday, March 16.

Conservative MP Mark Warawa, representing Langley-Aldergrove, is addressing the Coffee & Conversation on Thursday, April 5, and Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese will be speaking on Thursday, May 17.

Greg Moore, chair of the Metro Vancouver regional district will be speaking on Tuesday, May 29, followed by Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman wrapping it up on Thursday, June 21.

“As a benefit of having a Langley chamber membership, you have the opportunity to have your questions answered in small group setting, and hear what your elected officials are working on to improve Langley,” Clark said.

There is very limited seating available, so people are encouraged to reserve early. The cost is $15, and the sessions begin at noon, but open for networking at 11:30 a.m.

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Also coming this spring

Again focusing on the spring months, Langley chamber is planning its annual neighbourhood meetings, where they will visit Langley City, North Langley, South Langley, and Aldergrove at different times.

These open houses are designed to focus specific to issues and ideas for the set neighbourhoods, Clark said.

Dates for this year’s series are still to be announced.

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Visiting businesses

Once known as Open Late for Business, the chamber took a break for six months, then rebranded and reintroduced these monthly outings to participating businesses last fall.

Now called Business After Hours Mixer, these events are designed to see a number of local businesses work together to showcase their facilities, wares, and talents, Clark said.

“It seems to be working,” she added, noting that 60 attended the escape rooms at E-Exit a few months back, and another 60 visited Bria Community’s Sunridge Gardens senior care facility in Murrayville last week.

There’s no charge to attend the event, and it’s now free to host the networking sessions.

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Learning over a paperbag lunch

Expanding educational opportunities for members and the business community in general is a key role for any chamber of commerce, explained Clark.

So, it was essential when designing some specific educational events, to know that local business leaders wanted to help better manage, market, and develop their companies.

The Lunch & Learn series, also hosted in the chamber boardroom, has been well received.

They’re not necessarily once a month, but sometimes more and less frequent – depending on the availability of speakers, she said.

For instance, during small business month in October, there will be three or four.

While most of the sessions are designed for businesses in general, there are also Lunch & Learn sessions for non-profit organization as well as members 40 years or young (the U40 sector also hosts frequent social events).

Coming up in the next month, there’s a marketing and social media session planned for Wednesday, Feb. 21, a young entrepreneurs road to success for U40 on Tuesday, March 13, a look at Facebook on Wednesday, March 14, a look at direct mail and Canada Post on Wednesday, March 21.

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Golf and more

In addition to all the educational and networking meetings held throughout the year, Clark said the team is also gearing up for this summer’s annual golf tournament in June, the business excellence gala in October, and the all-candidates forum prior to this fall’s municipal election.

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How to register

Whether it’s a free gathering, or a by admission meeting, the chamber asks that guests pre-register.

That’s possible by calling the chamber at 604-371-3770, by emailing events@langleychamber.com, or online at langleychamber.com/events

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