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I’m a new business owner. Actually, I’m not all that new. I have had a Web consulting business for nearly four years, after having “retired” from corporate life. Last year, I decided to start a second adjunct business, and one key target market area that I wanted to grow into was Sacramento. So I decided to hatch an experiment, and this article will be the first of a series of articles about my experiences. It may document a success or two, or maybe it won’t, depending upon the outcome.
Time will tell.
To give you, the reader a bit of background, I’m a computer technologist coming from a twenty-one year history of working in a corporate environment with data centers, programmers, servers, and Web technology. I chucked a stable paycheck and my cube (a lá Dilbert) a few years ago for entrepreneurship, and a tiny shared office in downtown Livermore. I love it, and I’ve never looked back!
The new business is called the Bay Area Search Engine Academy, but despite the “Bay Area” name, the reality is that the business also spans into Sacramento, down to Fresno, and Santa Cruz. We teach workshops to business owners so they learn how to market themselves on Google.
This series of articles, however, isn’t about my business. It will be about how I can break out of my local neighborhood, Livermore, and hopefully build a new business and foster relationships in a city that I usually travel past, rather than to.
As an avid member and Ambassador of the Livermore Chamber of Commerce, it seemed logical that the very first place I should go to in Sacramento is the Sacramento Metro Chamber as a keystone to my presence here. Interestingly, there’s another article that just got posted yesterday about someone else’s experience with Metro Chamber. Perhaps she’ll invite me to her mixer at some point too.
The Livermore Chamber boasts that they are the fifth largest chamber in the Bay Area, and it has, according to the San Francisco Business Times, 820 members (last year’s stats). The Chamber CEO, Dale Kaye, and I meet regularly and she’s present at a lot of functions I attend. The Livermore Chamber staff (8 people) are all friends of mine because we interact on a regular basis. I know probably 2/3 of the 50 Ambassadors too.
The Sacramento Metro Chamber, on the other hand, has at least three times the membership, it’s the second largest chamber in the state, has a whopping list of 450 volunteers and an org chart that makes it look like a small corporation. I’m not sure when the Livermore Chamber was originally formed, but Metro Chamber was formed in 1895, essentially to help with the winter flooding and build the levees around the city.
That Was Easy!
There was no question that I wanted to join Metro Chamber. Especially with its reach of nearly 3000 businesses, it’s a bargain at a few hundred dollars for the opportunity to connect with all these people! So my application and information went off, and Bob Welton from Member Services welcomed me in. Easy.
They hold a monthly orientation to the Metro Chamber which I attended a few days later. There, Matt Mahood, the CEO, gave a presentation to us about what the Metro Chamber is all about, opprtunities for us business owners, and how they help business by working to support legislative candidates who are pro-business, and even work to get pro-business legislation passed.
The orientation was standing room only, packed with forty-one business owners, employees and various chamber personnel. Being a veteran networker, of course, this was a prime opportunity to, well, network! Business cards are after all, the cheapest form of advertising available. I met some new contacts, and who knows, maybe we’ll do business at some point. (I subsequently took some time to meet the very friendly staff of your very own Sacramento Press, and hopefully built some new friendships.)
The Grand Experiment
So what’s this grand “experiment” that I’m hatching? My ultimate goal of course is to fill my workshop in March. Can the Metro Chamber help me reach my goals, and how will I track it? As this experiment unfolds, I’ll be filling you in on these details. Although, I have to admit, it feels a bit personal, because, what if I don’t reach my goals? There it will sit in Internet eternity for all of you to read.
Alas, as I said earlier, time will tell.
The Ribbon Cutting!