Crystal Christianson is the owner of Studio C Salon located at 312 N Nokomis St. in Alexandria. Studio C Salon offers haircuts and styling along with a variety of coloring services, texture & specialty treatments. Studio C Salon believes in education to keep up on all the latest trends by attending various webinars and classes around the United States and even other countries.
By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
When you’ve spent your entire life in a community, you think you’d know all there is to know about that community. But that is seldom the case.
A person tends to develop a more focused vision dependent on where they are at with our lives. If you have young children, you may be in the know about all the valuable resources the community has to offer for young families. If you work in the health care industry or education field, you may be well versed on the community’s strengths in those fields, or perhaps you have a job that requires you to travel extensively throughout the area, so you are familiar with the local road systems.
But seldom are we in the know about everything that not only makes a community function, but also grow and prosper.
One of the things that has most impressed me during my time at the Chamber of Commerce is the number of high quality, skilled, knowledgeable, passionate professionals we have in our community.
What’s even more impressive is that most of these professionals are happy to share their time, talents and expertise beyond the doors of their businesses to make this a stronger community overall.
That’s not easy to do. In today’s fast-paced world, everyone is busy. It often feels like a struggle to get everything on your work and personal “to-do” list done, let alone find time to volunteer or give in other areas.
But people do it all the time, and research shows that those people actually are better off because of it. And so are the communities in which they live.
If you’ve thought about investing in your leadership abilities and in your community, please consider enrolling in the Leadership Alexandria program.
Sponsored by the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce in collaboration with West Central Initiative, the program has been developing local leaders for more than 20 years.
It’s for everyone – people new to the area and those who have lived here their entire lives; people just starting out in their careers to those who’ve made a recent career switch to those who’ve already worked their way up to the management level in their companies.
Each year’s class is a unique blend of ages, backgrounds, knowledge and skill sets, styles and personalities. And we have found that the participants learn as much from each other as they do from the program sessions.
The program, which runs one day a month from September through May, does require an investment of time and money. But there is a strong return on your investment for the participant, for the employer and for our community.
You will learn more about yourself and your leadership style. You will learn how to effectively lead others. You will also increase your professional network and enhance your understanding of the area, including its history, government entities, educational system, and business community.
We are currently accepting applications for this year’s Leadership Alexandria class. Details can be found here: https://www.alexandriamn.org/leadershipalex.html.
Kyle Anderson & Deb Kerr are the owners of The Potomac Bead Company in Alexandria, MN. The Potomac Bead Company is headquartered in Hagerstown, MD and does a lot of business online. The Alexandria, MN location was the last brick & mortar retail store to open. Kyle & Deb do more than just bead work at The Potomac Bead Company that include yarn work and classes through Alexandria Public Schools Community Education such as wine making, soap making, quilting and more!
By Tara Bitzan, Executive Director, Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber’s Wake Up Alexandria and Off the Clock networking events are some of our more popular programs. Some people wonder what all the fuss is about, but others have figured out the networking value of these opportunities and take advantage of them.
Of course the main purpose of these programs is to spotlight businesses and organizations and educate the community on the products and services they offer. An informed community is a thriving community! However, to many attendees, the key benefit of these programs is the opportunity to network.
Network: To interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.
Many successful business people quickly realize and embrace the concept of networking. Why? Here are three of the top reasons:
To meet new people and gain contacts and referrals. Gaining new business and clients is usually the main goal, but don’t forget about the value of meeting people who could open the doors for new ventures or collaborations, or people who could be key in helping your organization in other ways. For example, if you have a position to fill, these networking opportunities may offer connections to the perfect candidate, or if your organization is in need of certain services, you may gain a referral for someone tried and true all because you attended a networking event. Meet people, introduce yourself, hand out business cards, and set up future meetings to further develop these important relationships. Work the room, and with every person you meet, as yourself – how can I help them/their business and how can they help me/my business?
Marketing and visibility. Seeing people face-to-face and developing relationships goes a lot further than most formal advertising options. This is just as important in maintaining existing client relationships as it is in developing new ones. Having yourself and members of your team out and about in the community at various events is a strong form of marketing. Notice I said “yourself and members of your team.” Some business execs make the mistake of finding themselves “too busy” to attend events like this, so instead they only send other representatives from their organization, and others make the mistake of thinking that only top management should be making appearances at community networking events. It needs to be a combination of both. Empower your team to be out representing your organization, but also take time to do so yourself. A healthy mixture of the two provides the strongest impact. The ones who are really losing out are the organizations that don’t send anyone, believing that there’s too much work to be done to allow any employees time to go out “socializing.”
Stay in the know! These events keep you up-to-date on what is going on within the community. Sure, you’ll hear about fundraisers and store specials, but you’ll also hear about what other entities are struggling with or what they’re celebrating, what the pulse of the current economy is, what business is moving into the abandoned complex in the center of town, what current legislation will be a win or lose for this area if passed, and so much more that you’ll never hear about while sitting at your desk all day every day. Some of the most impactful news for business leaders is the news shared over casual conversation at a networking event that doesn’t make headlines with the local media.
Is your organization taking advantage of local networking opportunities? The Chamber invites you to be our guest at any of our networking events. Find out about them here: https://www.alexandriamn.org/eventsandprograms.html
Mariya Kemper is the creative director and co-owner of Dancin' Off Broadway. The business has provided a gateway for children and young adults to explore their creativity, build their confidence, and make lifelong memories and friendships in a safe and accepting environment for 30 years. DOB strives to provide a well-rounded dance experience, offering a variety of different dance styles taught by qualified instructors with years of experience.