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Hobart Chamber launches new leads program to compete with networking rivals
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Hobart Chamber launches new leads program to compete with networking rivals

Hobart Chamber launches new leads program to compete with networking rivals

The Hobart Chamber of Commerce is shown.

The Hobart Chamber of Commerce has launched a new lead exchange pilot program to offer members more networking opportunities.

The idea is to offer an experience comparable to Business Networking International and other networking groups that have lured some business away from chambers of commerce in recent years, Hobart Chamber of Commerce President Tom Byelick said.

The program will "bring people together from unique business backgrounds to collaborate, discuss common objectives and pursue substantial businesses leaders," he said. "Many organizations like this have started up over the last several years and have drawn people away from chambers of commerce. We hope to bring people back to the fold."

While chamber of commerce events serve their members with luncheon and other business networking events, networking groups like Business Networking International have carved a niche through more exclusivity.

"People pay pretty big bucks to join these organizations," he said. "It's more exclusive as it's only business types. You're not climbing over 15 insurance agents. You only have one insurance agent, as everyone has a unique business background exchanging information, ideas and significant leads. We want to offer this opportunity for chamber members so they don't have to join another organization."

Lead exchange groups will meet monthly to exchange ideas and discuss podcasts or reading assignments. Each will consist of about 10 members from different professions who will convene at the chamber office, coffee shops, restaurants and other venues.

"It's small and intimate groups where they can get to know each other," Byelick said. "We want them to come to trust each other and know they can be counted on. The meetings will be somewhat abbreviated, about an hour or so early in the morning, so they can get back to making their livelihood. It's basically a way to get cultivated leads in a structured environment with a more intimate mix-and-mingle."

Byelick, who recently started as president of the Hobart chamber, said he was bringing new programming and new ideas to ensure it stays relevant with members.

"I've been a member of many chambers of commerce," he said. "The value I derived from membership varied a lot by chamber. In some, I put more into it than I got out. I don't want people to pay their annual dues of $220 and then walk away without getting that much tangible value in two months. I don't want to take their money and never talk to them again. I don't want to leave them to their own devices. We're devising programs at the chamber to help get your business to the next level."

The Hobart Chamber of Commerce is now taking applications for the non-competitive leads program where everyone is unique to their own industry. It does not cost anything more than standard chamber membership.

The monthly breakfast meetings should be "brief but productive."

"We want to ensure everyone who attends takes something away for their business," he said.

For more information, call 219-942-5774, email executivedirector@hobartchamber.com or visit hobartchamber.com.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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