Networking in the Pandemic Era

We’re all pretty done with this pandemic, huh? Indubitably. It’s been a lot and has dragged on for way too long. One of the many things that have had to take a back seat in the interest of public safety these past two years is the traditional idea of networking and connection. One of the many key functions the Fernie Chamber of Commerce delivers for its member businesses and organizations is networking opportunities. These are so crucial to running a successful business – the ability to connect with other business owners or managers in the community to compare notes on a range of issues and opportunities that we collectively face. 

We know how much value there is in these less-formal events that provide this platform for business leaders to engage with peers that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to do in their busy everyday lives. The Fernie Chamber team has tried extremely hard to keep those connections going against the backdrop of a global pandemic which has made getting together in person challenging. We were quick to embrace video technology platforms like Zoom, which has been a powerful tool for us to keep businesses connected while staying apart. Our weekly Zoom calls helped keep business and community leaders informed during the early days of the pandemic, and since we have used the platform for information sessions, roundtables, workshops and even to stage events like the Fernie Business Excellence Awards. 

But hard as we might try, this kind of digital networking really is weak tea compared to getting together in person. We attempted to move our pre-pandemic monthly networking event Business, Banter and Beers (BBBs) online, but it felt stilted and not as free flowing as gathering in a proud local business owner’s space and mingling. There is something undeniable about a good sidebar chat with someone you barely know but shares the same interests as you. And this far in, to say that we all have Zoom fatigue is probably the understatement of the year and we’re only in February.

It’s our great hope that we finally arrive at a place real soon when we can get back to carefree and in-person networking events with lots of our members. In the meantime, we’re only a phone call or Zoom call away if you need to bounce ideas of us. Stay tuned to the Fernie Chamber website and social media accounts for upcoming business networking opportunities, whether they are virtual or IRL. We need them!