Back to school

Editor’s note: This is the first of a rotating bi-weekly column by local chambers of commerce.

The business environment is one that is constantly evolving. Just staying up to date on current strategies and tactics can be a daunting prospect for many of the small- and medium-sized businesses that make up the majority of businesses in B.C..

To help provide knowledge and insight into latest methods of marketing and business growth strategies, the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has launched a new program called Chamber U.

As a chamber we have access to many experts with current in-depth knowledge. With our extensive network of members, and with our affiliation to both the B.C. and Canadian chambers of commerce, there is a deep pool of talent we can draw from to deliver leading edge information.

The mandate to provide educational services for our members is one of the things I find most appealing about being in today’s chamber. We are very pleased to be able to offer these programs at no cost to our members in good standing.

It also gives some of our members a chance to share some of their expertise and profile their businesses as presenters in a non-promotional environment. For example, we had our first Chamber U June 2 at Lake City Casino, with Tim Houle, from V-Net Consulting, presenting on search engine optimization.

The Chamber U series will be starting with a focus on using the Internet and new media for marketing, customer service and e-commerce.

Several Chamber U topics in the planning phase include using constant contact e-mail services (June 28), Hootsuite social media dashboard (Oct. 11), and pay-per-click advertising using Google Adwords (date TBA).

Moving forward, there will more diverse subjects introduced with presentations from Kazia Mullin, from Crema Communications, on small business marketing, doing business with the City of Vernon with a city official, and goal setting with Charley Hampton, of Coach Charley.

As the series progresses, web-based seminars, dubbed webinars, will also start to be used to deliver the information.

Webinars are presented from the trainer’s computer and distributed using software, allowing participants to see a presentation much like a powerpoint on their own computer screen. The software also supplies sound using the computer’s speakers or a connection over the telephone, that participants dial up to receive.

These will allow even more of our members to participate in the events than ever before as they will not have to travel from their office to attend. People will not have to be as constrained to a single fixed place, date and time since we can easily repeat the webinars for multiple occurrences, and we can archive them for later viewing on our website.

All scheduled events offered by the Vernon chamber can be viewed at www.vernonchamber.ca. This is all part of a bigger plan to add more interactivity to the chamber website.

It is already one of the most frequently searched and used websites in the Vernon area, and the goal is to maximize service to members.

People are also welcome to call the office at 250-545-0771, or drop in at 102-2901 32 St.

George Duffy is the general manager of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce.

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