Networking 101

August 26, 2016

DSC00281If you look at this weekly insert in the Anniston Star, you probably read our references to Business After Hours, our monthly evening networking opportunity held the third Tuesday of every month, or Business & Biscuits, our monthly morning networking opportunity held the first Thursday of every month. Many professionals find these “networking” events awkward, shaking hands and exchanging business cards. Networking doesn’t have to be just that. Who is someone you’ve seen in passing more than once? Have you ever introduced yourself to them? Do you make a conscience effort to get to know new people? Do you “meet” people face to face or rely on online connections and “friends.”

People do business with people they know.

networkThe Chamber provides networking opportunities, like Business After Hours, Business and Biscuits and the Business EXPO, because we want to build connections for our members, our businesses and communities. Don’t necessarily go into these meetings with the mentality of what can they do for me, but instead, try to make a new friend. Remember the first day of school? “What do you do for fun?” “Do you have any siblings?” “What’s your favorite food?” Genuine connections can be made, if you try.


Often, if we wholeheartedly listen, new doors could open that we never expected. They share, while we learn and appreciate their story. Listening also has the potential to lay a strong foundation for friendship.


“Sharing is caring.” After you listen, share and make your story memorable. Customers like honesty, trust and meaning. Don’t just share what you think they want to hear because you’ll probably be wrong. Stand out in the networking crowd.


Some are often “afraid” to attend events because they don’t know anyone. Everyone knows someone, so don’t hesitate to ask for introductions or ask a friend to accompany you. Introductions act as referrals, seeing their friend introduce you opens new doors of trust.

Be Brave

Be you; be real. Sometimes, that means sticking your hand out and simply saying your name. Try new events with organizations, like the Chamber, and you never know where the door may lead. Connect, Engage and Prosper!

jsu sbdcThe Chamber’s Small Business Committee works with the mission “to promote the growth, success and recognition of small businesses by promoting training, networking opportunities, and engaging public awareness.”

From Shop Local to Small Business Month, the Chamber also has the opportunity to partner with the Alabama Small Business Development Center for Programs and Events. The SBDC at Jacksonville State University is a member of the Alabama SBDC Network.

sba1This month, on Wednesday, August 31, from 2:00-3:30 P.M. the Chamber and JSU Small Business Development Center are partnering to present “Small Business Certifications and Financing Opportunities” at the Chamber of Commerce. This event, featuring Scott Stewart from ADECA’s Office of Minority Business Enterprise, will cover business government contracting, business certifications, opportunities for women owned and minority owned businesses, as well as small business lending and loans and SBA resources and information.

sba 2Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions of the Small Business Development Center, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, and the East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission.

There is no cost to attend this workshop, but seating is limited. Call 256-237-3536 or 256-782-5271 to reserve your seat.

exhibitor trainingIn 2015, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce with 4-Star Accreditation for its sound policies, effective organizational procedures, and positive impact on the community.

Just this week, the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (CCAA) awarded seven chambers the Accredited Alabama Chamber of Commerce distinction, including the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce. board annual meetingThe announcement was made during the state’s CCAA summer conference. According to CCAA’s program description, “The Accredited Alabama Chamber of Commerce program sets standards of excellence for chambers in the State of Alabama. It recognizes chambers that have achieved those standards while offering guidelines for those to improve their effectiveness.”

The designation looks at six standard topicannual meeting- boards: Organization, Mission Focus, Professional Administration, Financial Management, Communications, and, Advocacy. Jeremy L. Arthur, President and CEO of the CCAA, said the seven local chambers of commerce are a true testament to the chamber profession. “The accreditation process is very rigorous and highlights that each chamber is truly the ‘best of the best’ across our state,” Arthur said. “The commitment shown by each local chamber that receives the Accredited Alabama Chamber of Commerce distinction shows their continued commitment to the highest professional standards and assures their business members they are investing in an organization working on their behalf for the greater good.”

“The Chamber is honored and credits the involvement of our volunteers, our membership and communities for this distinction,” says Linda Hearn, IOM, Calhoun County Chamber Manager.

BAE System (Adopt)If you truly want to make a difference in your community, your schools and more, shop local. If we switched just 5% of the dollars we spent elsewhere and bought local, it would generate over $2 Million in new local sales tax revenue.

That means…

More Jobs …. Better Schools …. Support of Local Business …. Lower taxes with an expanded tax base …. Better Parks …. Improved Public Safety   …. Better streets and highways…

shop 2In the Small Business Administration’s Alabama Profile, 757,475 workers are employed by small businesses. Shopping local is an investment in our community. Local businesses employ our neighbors, friends, families, whose livelihood depends on small business success, and these businesses are customers of other local businesses, from utility companies to the local printer, accountants, farms and more.

Money spent here stays here, recirculating in our community, expanding jobs and business opportunities. Many local businesses are also those who fund and support local non-profit and community organizations that serve our area. Think of those who sponsor the t-ball team, that golf tournament or the community event down the street.

shopAs you shop and venture out to discover something new, think and keep it local. Choose Calhoun! While we are often drawn to the lowest price, we overlook the convenience and customer service provided by our neighbors. Think long term, jobs, emergency responders, schools and community. Keep our local economy strong by purchasing and utilizing our area products and services.

It is not only customer service and a friendly face that is lost when we don’t shop local. In a study from the UAB Collat School of Business, it is estimated that $2.8 million was lost in sales and use tax revenue for 2013, just through online sales. Think of how those dollars could help our schools, our public services, our communities. Money spent here stays here. When you shop local, it is estimated that more than 50% of the money spent stays in the community.

Your dollar makes a difference in our future! Think Local, shop local!

Your Voice of Business

July 29, 2016

forumIf you search online for the “Voice of Business,” Chambers of Commerce frequently appear on search engines. The “Voice of Business” is often defined as encompassing “the primary needs” of business, and many Chambers follow legislative issues on a local, state and federal level that could impact their business community.

The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce tagline is “The Voice of Business.” Our Public Affairs committee works with the mission of representing and being a proactive voice for the members and the overall business community with all levels of government in order to improve and sustain a positive business climate. One of our organization’s Mission Focus Areas is “Advocacy.” Advocacy is defined as “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.” Our cause is area business. Our proposal is our mission, “to promote and sustain the economic growth of the Calhoun County Region, resulting in a community that is a dynamic place to work, visit and live.”

politicsWithin our Public Affairs Focus Areas, we create a legislative agenda, describing our commitment and needs to create an improved business climate and quality of life for our region, to share with local, state and federal elected officials. We host Mayors’ Roundtables with our municipal representation and legislative updates with state and federal representatives and senators. With these events and opportunities, we strive to educate and raise awareness of public affairs programs and issues affecting our communities. We also organize political forums to, as our Vice Chair of Public Affairs Jack Brim stated, “highlight the candidates, providing the community an outlet to hear directly from their candidates and make the best decision as voters.”

Join Us for Our Upcoming Political Forums

Hosted by: The Anniston Star & Chamber Public Affairs Committee


Anniston School Board of Education Political Forum

Monday, August 8, 5:30-7:00 P.M.

Anniston Performing Arts Center – 1301 Woodstock Ave, Anniston


City of Anniston Political Forum

Tuesday, August 9, 5:30-7:00 P.M.

Anniston City Meeting Center, 1615 Noble St, Anniston


City of Jacksonville & Board of Education Political Forum

Location & Time: To be Announced


Town of Hobson City Political Forum

Monday, August 15, 5:30-7:00 P.M.

New Haven Baptist Church, 100 New Haven Road, Anniston


City of Oxford Political Forum

Thursday, August 18, 5:30-7:00 P.M.

Oxford Performing Arts Center, 100 Choccolocco St, Oxford


If you would like to submit questions for any upcoming political forum, please submit them via email to or post to Facebook and Twitter using #CalCoPolitics.

chelsey (2)The Chamber Staff is here to serve you, our members and our public, and this week, we added a staff member, Chelsey
Strong, to serve as Program Coordinator.

Chelsey grew up in Sylacauga, and graduated from Sylacauga High School in 2011. In December 2015, Chelsey graduated with her Bachelors in Marketing from Jacksonville State University, where she was also a member of the Marching Southerners Color Guard for two years.

chelsey (1)Chelsey has previously worked at Desoto Caverns, Farmlinks Golf Course and Webb Concrete & Building Materials, and she also served as the Chamber’s intern during the spring of 2015.

Chelsey recently married Jon Strong and enjoys spending time with him, cooking and exploring the outdoors.

Chelsey looks forward to learning more about the Chamber’s more than 1,000 members and how they are involved in Calhoun County and surrounding areas. Chelsey says, “I have a heart to serve and help people, and I believe that is what the Chamber is—a tool to serve the people of each business.”

Chelsey, we look forward to you engaging with members and creating opportunities for them to connect to the community. Welcome to the Chamber team!

Your Chamber Staff

web linda hearnLinda Hearn

Chamber Manager



web lisa morales

Lisa Morales

Tourism Director



web kim boyd

Kim Boyd

Membership Director



web emily duncan

Emily Duncan

Public Relations Coordinator



web judy myers

Judy Myers

Customer Service




Chelsey Strong

Programs Coordinator



Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center

1330 Quintard Avenue – Anniston, Alabama 36201

 (256) 237-3536  –

The people you know

July 15, 2016

b&b cider ridgeEach member of our Chamber of Commerce can play an active role in supporting the whole Chamber Membership. How? Shop Local! Think Calhoun County first. If you’re searching for a specific item or type of business, give the Chamber a call at (256)237-3536. There’s probably someone locally who can help you find what you’re looking for instead of searching the world wide web. Yes, the internet may be convenient, but think of the customer service and local small businesses that contribute to our communities’ non-profits, schools, and organizations.


SCE 4As a member of the Leadership Calhoun County Class of 2016, the YMCA’s President and CEO Shane Ruffin participated in Industry Day, LCC’s day of tours through local industries. One industry on the itinerary was Southern Custom Exhibits and their more than 35,000 square foot facility, specializing in the production of museum exhibits. Shane says, “I would have never known they existed without the introduction through LCC.” Thanks to that introduction, Shane immediately thought of Southern Custom Exhibits when he thought about the projects and refurbishments to celebrate 50 years of Camp Hamilton. “I immediately thought of them to build it for us,” says Shane. “They built that amazing grand entrance as well as the sign by the pool entrance.” Shane is now considering creating a “legacy” piece with Southern Custom Exhibits to preserve the rich history of the YMCA.

DSC00833People do business with people they know. Let us help you increase your business’ visibility and engage with community leaders and professionals at the Chamber of Commerce. Give us a call at (256)237-3536.

Christmas in July

Some of our members are running summer specials, so don’t miss out!

  • Family Value Video

50% off all video transfers for Christmas in July!!!

Call 256-831-7169.

  • Crawford Office Supply

Extra 10% off all in stock chairs!!!

Call 256-237-3310.

  • Cider Ridge Golf Club

15% discount on Golf Shop Apparel & Golf Balls.

July Twilight Tuesdays start at 12:00 p.m. for $37.

Call 256-831-2739.

DSC00281Do you want to increase your company’s visibility and reach today’s regional movers and shakers? The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce is your opportunity to connect with business leaders and influencers.

A business membership with the Chamber covers everyone from CEO to the sales team and administrative assistants. Membership provides you and your staff the opportunity to engage with target markets and remain “in the know” with your community.

DSC00276From our online Membership Directory to our events, each event and program is an opportunity to reach potential customers and increase your visibility in the community. Each month, our Online Directory receives more than 3,000 searches for names and services in our area.

Supporting and sponsoring events and programs of the Chamber ensures your company is even more recognized and active in the Chamber’s mission of promoting and sustaining “the economic growth of the Calhoun County Region, resulting in a community that is a dynamic place to work, visit and live.”

DSC00262Don’t wait and regret it! Join and engage with more than 1,000 businesses and representatives in Calhoun County. Participate in committees from Workforce Development to Government Affairs and attend workshops from social media to emergency preparedness. We have something for everyone, benefitting your business or organization’s goals and mission.

Together everyone achieves more!

Want to know more?

Member Orientation

At Orientation, Chamber programs, events, and Chamber committees are discussed, and we demonstrate how to access the Member Information Page online.

Wednesday, July 27, at 10:00 A.M.

Chamber of Commerce: 1330 Quintard Avenue, Anniston

Call 256-237-3536 to join the Chamber or RSVP for Orientation.

Social Media Marketing

July 1, 2016

social-media-marketingSome small businesses are using social media and generating sales? Still wondering if your business needs to be on social media? Social media is critical for small businesses.
However, certain platforms work better for some, so it’s up to you to figure out which works best for your industry.

Facebook still dominates the world of social media, while Twitter and Instagram are gaining momentum with advertising opportunities. On the other hand, YouTube is still more commonly utilized by larger corporations.

Keep in mind, every business and industry is different. Some business to business companies have better success with LinkedIn, while retain businesses have better success with Instagram. Some service businesses have better luck with Blogs and Pinterest, while up-and-coming entrepreneurs have more success with Facebook and Twitter.

DSC00173The difficult task is to justify your social media efforts are working. Yes, you can track analytics, likes and followers. Yes, you can post social media exclusive offers and coupons. Overall, your mission should be to increase awareness, recognition of your brand, your business and its services. There will be trial and error, especially since some messages don’t resonate on every platform. Set aside no less than a year to really track and understand your online engagement.

Yes, Facebook can be time consuming, if you allow it. Set aside a certain time every day to check your social channels or a time every week to schedule the following week’s posts. Every problem is also an opportunity. Social media will increase your reach, your exposure, and introduce you to new potential customers. It also provides referrals from Google and other search engines, as customers browse the web for goods and services. Most social media outlets are FREE. Not many other successful marketing outlets can afford to offer services for free. Your customers are already there, online, so give it a try.

Want to learn more?

social bootFrom Facebook to Twitter, Blogs to Pinterest, Instagram to YouTube, businesses are growing and becoming very successful thanks to social media. Join us for a “Social Media Boot Camp” to study trends and best practices you can incorporate. RSVP to (256)237-3536.

Friday, July 22,

8:00 A.M.-10:00 A.M.

Social Media Boot Camp

Sponsored By: Regions Bank

Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce

1330 Quintard Avenue, Anniston

Join the Chamber

June 24, 2016

network 3Our tagline is, “We are the best business tool, providing opportunities to engage, link and grow businesses.” It’s about people. It’s about ideas. It’s about influence, the “Power of Connection.” Your business thrives on it. Your future depends on it. Connect with success at the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, your link to influential people, innovative ideas and exclusive opportunities.

Chamber members are as diverse as the county itself. Our members represent businesses and industries of all sizes, and viewpoints from every position on the political spectrum. Together, we’re shaping Calhoun County’s dynamic business environment and making the area an exceptional place to live and work.

DSC00051Chamber Membership:

  1. Brings credibility to your business – Studies show, consumers perception is more positive when businesses are identified as a member of a chamber.
  2. Provides increased visibility – As a new member, you’re listed in Chamber publications and emails, and you can promote your business’ Hot Deals, Events, grand openings, and more through the Chamber.
  3. Builds Your Network – From Business and Biscuits to Business After Hours and Lunch & Leads, the Chamber has numerous opportunities for networking with community leaders and professional development.
  4. military 3Represents your voice – The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce is the “Voice of Business,” bringing legislation affecting local businesses to the attention of our elected officials.
  5. Offers Member Only Access – From the Office Max/Office Depot discounts to our Member Information Center, resources and savings are available exclusively to our membership.

Join us and make your own connections – in Calhoun County and in the world of business! Keep in mind, it’s not just about writing a check each year. Invest your time and truly reap the benefits by becoming involved, serving on committees and attending events.

business and biscuitsWant to know more? Join us for Member Orientation on July 27, at the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, 1330 Quintard Avenue in Anniston, or new for 2016, join us online via at 1 p.m.! Learn how to maximize your membership and get engaged! Call 256-237-3536 to RSVP. Visit for more information, or contact Kim Boyd at (256)237-3536 and


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