Monthly Archives August 2019

Networking opportunities are everywhere. You no longer must leave your house to be able to network, but studies now show that online networking doesn’t hold the same power as in-person networking. Networking is critical to landing a job, learning about opportunities before they are broadcast, and getting more sales for your business.

You need to do it, even if you hate it, and one of the easiest most effective networking groups is the chamber. But the chamber does more than just introduce you to others. It offers very strong networking tools and opportunities. Here are several things you probably didn’t know about how you can improve your business networking with chamber membership.

According to HubSpot, 85% of people “say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person business meetings and conferences.” Chambers facilitate this on a weekly basis in some form or fashion, but there are a host of other ways they can help you improve your networking. Here are 5 ways the chamber can make you a better networker that you might not have thought of.

1.  In-Person Events

The Chamber offers a host of in-person events from formal networking events to informal member mixers. There are even opportunities to sponsor events and showcase your business location.

2. Networking Assistance

If you’re like most people, you’re not a natural networker. It’s something you do because you know it’s necessary, but not something you enjoy. The Chamber is rich with experience and advice on how to improve your networking skills. Check to see about networking courses or training. Also, don’t be shy to admit to Chamber staff that you’re struggling with networking. They can easily keep an eye out for you and help introduce you to the people who can make a difference in your business. You don’t get this kind of service from an online group.

3. Leads and Mastermind Groups

The Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce has helped organize groups where business professionals from the community bring leads for one another and help the members grow their businesses. These groups are often more targeted than the open networking events for the entire Chamber membership. Getting to know a select group of business associates in your industry or a complementary one, can help your business take off.

4. Thought leadership opportunities

The Chamber is open to having members share their knowledge in the form of educational sessions. This can position you as a thought leader in your industry and helps with networking after the event. People will naturally want to discuss the materials you presented.

5.  In sight, on the mind

Most people are extremely busy these days, particularly business owners. While social media can be a very effective tool for keeping in touch, it’s too easy to miss people’s posts there. At an in-person event, on the other hand, you come face-to-face with someone and they’re immediately on your mind again.

When you’re an established acquaintance and people know, like, and trust you, they are more likely to buy from you and refer you to others. Plus when they know you (from having met you in person), your social media posts will be more meaningful to them.

A final word about how the Chamber can make you a better networker

Networking is painful for most of us but having an organization that specializes in it can help you get the training and assistance you need to get more customers and grow your tribe. Chamber membership is a pretty small price to pay for that.

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The Mike Weir Foundation, the philanthropic organization created by the Masters champion’s family, has announced a partnership that will help fund a mental health initiative geared to help young people in the most vulnerable age group—11 to 25 years old.

Representatives of the Foundation have outlined plans for an ACCESS Open Minds site for the Sarnia-Lambton community.

The initiative, which is being endorsed by Bluewater Health, will mirror an existing facility in Chatham-Kent, according to Paula Reaume-Zimmer, integrated vice-president, Mental Health & Addictions at Bluewater Health and Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent.

The Mike Weir Foundation will be organizing a Par 3 Challenge for Mental Health, scheduled for September 19 at Huron Oaks Golf Club, as a way to spark the fundraising effort.

Weir will be attending the inaugural event, which will be limited to 108 golfers playing in threesomes.

The Foundation will be matching donations raised up to $200,000, which means the total could reach $400,000 including matched funds.

The ACCESS Open Minds site is intended to address a critical gap in mental health services.

Information on sponsorships is available by contacting Wendy Bennett of the Mike Weir Foundation.

Pictured at a recent event announcing the initiative are, from left, Kathy Alexander, executive director of Bluewater Health Foundation; Alan Stevenson, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association Kent branch; Sue Barnes, executive director, St. Clair Child & Youth Services; and Paula Reaume-Zimmer of Bluewater Health and the CMHA.

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Lambton College is hosting an exciting competition and very popular demonstration of the skills and professionalism of firefighters at September’s Western Ontario FireFit Championship, taking place Friday, September 6 through Sunday, September 8.

The event will feature Sarnia’s own Ian VanReenen of Sarnia Fire– the reigning Canadian and World Men’s champions and record holders.

Of particular interest to members of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce will be Friday night’s Corporate Challenge.

You can find the sign-up form for the Corporate Challenge by clicking this link: 2019 Corporate Challenge Sign Up Sheet.

Lambton College Fire students have competed in FireFit for the past 20 years and in that time have brought back Canadian as well as World championships.

The Scott FireFit Championships is a competition based on firefighting tasks commonly performed in emergency situations.

August 1994 saw the first Canadian National FireFit Competition held at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver. During the 15 days of the P.N.E. approximately 50,000 spectators enjoyed the event.

With the success of the P.N.E. Event, seven FireFit events were scheduled and held from coast to coast in 1995 with over 715 competitors from more than 105 Fire Departments participating.

The popularity of the FireFit Competition has grown over the past 27 years and visits every province in Canada. With the popularity of two one-hour Championship Finals show, aired on TSN. FireFit has become known not only in Canada but worldwide.


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Content marketing provides the kind of quality content your audience is looking for. Marketers in today’s business climate must yield to the interests of their customers to be successful in the same way that party planners who want people on the dance floor must select music the vast majority of people in attendance will find appealing.

Content marketing has to start somewhere and the best place to do that is with a couple of evergreen pieces. These are strong heavy-hitting, attention-getting pieces of content you know your audience will respond to. Before you begin creating the content suggested here, make sure you have a good understanding of who your ideal customer is (from demographic and preferences standpoints), what they are looking for, and how you can help them. Knowing this vital information is essential to creating the content they care about.

Once you know who you’re speaking to, it’s easier to create content personalized for them. If you serve multiple types of customers, either narrow it down to your ideal customer and market only to them or create several buyer personas and produce content that will appeal to each segmented group.

Your Business Story

This is not your About page. This is the story you tell through interactions with your customers. Your business story should follow a traditional story arc/plotline of:

  1. hero wants something
  2. hero faces obstacle in trying to get what he/she wants
  3. hero is helped by mentor-type and ultimately succeeds in getting the desired object, status, or outcome

Before you run off and start penning the obstacles you faced in opening your own business, remember this is not about you. To craft an appealing business story to your audience, you are not the hero. Your business is the kindly mentor – the Obi-Wan character – who helps the hero, your customer. This is a much more evocative approach from an engagement aspect than telling everyone you are the hero and got exactly what you wanted at the end of the day.

Cast your customer in the role of the hero and you’ll have potential customers looking at that role and thinking they, too, could be a hero. All it takes is determination (and your help).

An Answer to Your Most Asked Question

Another component of effective content marketing is producing content in the medium your audience responds to. You can figure this out by dedicating some R&D time on social media. Share video, audio, and written pieces on the same topic. Which format consistently gets the most shares? Create more content in that format.

After you know what content your audience prefers, take to that medium to answer the most common question asked of your business. Here are examples of popular question types (insert the critical information that applies to your business):

What’s the difference between __________ and ___________?

How do I know I need a new _____________?

How much do ____________s cost?

How do I know if I’m dealing with a reputable ______________?

How do I select the perfect ____________ for me?

When creating the content, use the question as the title. People often search by entering questions not keywords. For instance, if I want to know if I need a new air conditioner, I am more apt to search something like:

How do I know if I need a new AC?


air conditioners

Creating content-based on customer questions is more likely to place you higher in search results than merely optimizing for keywords.

A Gallery

If you sell products or services that are visually appealing, create a portfolio to showcase what you sell. If you are an accountant, placing 1099s on your site probably won’t yield any conversions and could lead to breach of privacy lawsuits; create a gallery of testimonials instead.

This can be done formally by asking clients for them and creating case studies, or compiling them from other places and housing them on your website. Some people even use Favorites on Twitter to capture positive things people have said about them. Then when someone asks for testimonials, the business refers them to their Twitter profile’s Favorites section. The one problem with this is that you don’t own Twitter and they could remove this feature overnight without warning.

In addition to these three types of content you need to be committed to consistent content creation and posting.  Select a schedule you know you can adhere to and provide helpful information from others to fill in the gaps. Your customers may even be a source for that content.

Whatever your schedule or your content source, the most important thing to remember is that content marketing is like hosting a party. If all the food, drink, and entertainment are your favorites and not that of your guests (or customers in this case), you can be assured they won’t stay very long.

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An upcoming event organized by the Sarnia Lambton Economic Partnership, Sarnia-Lambton Local Immigration Partnership, and Lambton College (with support from the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce) is designed to help employers with their hiring challenges.

On Friday, September 27, a FREE TO ATTEND innovative and engaging employer breakfast will provide an overview of how local employers can learn about the benefits of harnessing today’s global workforce talent.

Taking place from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Lambton College Event Centre, Harnessing Today’s Global Talent will educate employers on the value of hiring and retaining international employees, the community impact of having global talent in the local workforce, and resources for employers interested in creating a diverse workforce.

To register for this FREE session, click HERE.


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Tuesday evening’s Sunset Cruise on the St. Clair River was a remarkable return to an annual tradition that the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce hopes will be an annual salute to summer.

President and CEO Shirley de Silva, who was on the Duc D’Orleans II along with members and guests, including members of the Bluewater Area Chamber, said the weather was perfect for the two-hour event.

With Fabien Jagoo serving as DJ and plenty of food and a cash bar, this year’s event was “just what we hoped it would be,” said de Silva.

“We look forward to this being among our signature Chamber events, one that combines friendships, great conversation and enjoying the vista that people living here have come to appreciate!”

Pictured; Dante Cateni of Terrapure Environmental, Chamber board member Karen Fischer, and Rudy Fischer.

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With the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce signature event—the 30th anniversary 2019 Outstanding Business Achievement Awards night—coming up on Friday, October 18, now’s the time to secure your tickets!

Often a ‘sold out” event on the Chamber calendar, this year’s OBAA will feature not only a “new look” but some exciting additions that are sure to have us all on the edge of our seats!

“We’re taking a new approach to this year’s OBAA while retaining the core elements, which of course, feature the very best companies and individuals in 15 categories of achievement,” said Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Chamber.

“We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been able to put together for this year’s OBAA—our 30th-anniversary event.”

Thanks to the lead sponsorship of Libro Credit Union, the Friday, October 18 event at the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia is shaping up to be another “Outstanding” event.

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased HERE.

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The Sarnia-Lambton Workplace Wellness Committee, a group that works to improve the health of the community through the empowerment of employers and employees, is bringing Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, a multi-award winning psychology instructor to town to speak on Resiliency in the Workplace.

Dr. Hanley-Dafoe, who specializes in the topic as well as navigating stress and change, and personal wellness in the workplace, will speak on Friday, September 20 at the Lambton College Event Centre.

Tickets for the event, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., are $40 and can be purchased by clicking HERE.

The Workplace Wellness group is a coalition that includes representatives from Lambton Public Health, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Industrial Educational Co-operative, the Sarnia-Lambton Workforce Development Board, Lambton County Developmental Services, Belfor Environmental, Rapids Family Health Team, Bluewater Health, the Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation, and St. Joseph’s Hospice.


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People buy from people they know, like, and trust. While you might be in the right place at the right time when someone is up against it, and they may buy from you once without knowing, liking, or trusting you, for them to return, you’ll need more than luck.

Know and trust generally come along when you establish yourself as a likeable business with a human behind it. It’s difficult for people to like you if they don’t trust you unless you’re a villain and then being untrustworthy is your business.

For most of us, that is not the case. You can’t like someone you don’t remember, so let’s get to work on establishing the like part of the sales equation.

Share Your Reason

Think of how filmmakers or storytellers get us to like the main character. One of the ways is that they place him or her on a quest, or up against a challenge, that we want them to succeed in.

Often it’s one we identify with. Share your reason for doing what you do. There’s probably someone in your audience or potential audience who can identify with your convictions and story. Passion is contagious.

Find Commonalities

In order to find commonalities, you need to share things about yourself outside of your business and how it came to be. Share your likes, be positive. Share what you love about your community or your love for bacon.

Be genuine and people who see your social media posts or read your content will begin to identify with what you’re sharing. They’ll jump in and say “me too” and you’re one step closer to getting them to like you.

Ask Questions

If they’re in your store or business ask them their opinion on something and really listen to their answer. On social media ask what they think or what their preferences are.

Involve them in your rebranding by crowdsourcing some of your marketing decisions. People like being involved and if you really listen to, and then act on, their advice, they’ll remember it and like you more because they see you as someone who values what they think. That’s all a lot of us are looking for.

Anticipate Your Customers’ Needs

As a business you are in a position to help, whether it’s helping someone look better, feel better, be entertained, or whatever it is you do for your customers. But you are also in a position to solve problems or answer questions. Use your content and social media to help customers with problems they face in their lives.

If you run a boutique, you can create posts about unique gifts for the women in your life. If you are an accountant,  create helpful checklists of things people should track throughout the year for effortless taxes. Be helpful. Anticipate what your customers need and then give it to them. If they know they can count on you, they will return again and again.

In today’s competitive market place it’s hard for your product alone to set you apart. Often it’s the things behind your product that will help you make a name for yourself. It’s the service, personality, and assistance you provide. These are the things that make people like you and they are also what keeps people coming back.

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When it comes to supplying Lambton County’s farm community with the equipment they need to keep their acreage in tip-top shape, it would be hard to find a better place for them to head than Advantage Farm Equipment Ltd., an enterprise owned by two stalwart families—Hendrick (local to Wyoming) and McNally (local to Inwood).

The business, which is the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce “Business of the Month,” has three locations, including Wyoming, London and Essex, with a total of 30 employees.

Currently an AGCO franchise, the business was formerly focused on Kubota, a brand they still service. AGCO brands featured include Massey Ferguson, Challenger, Fendt (a high-end line made in Germany), White planters, and Sunflower tillage tools.

Congratulations once again to our friends at Advantage Farm Equipment for becoming our “Member of the Month” for August 2019!

Pictured, left to right, are Shirley de Silva, president and CEO of the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Murray Melton, Advantage general manager, Don Hendrick, president/owner, and Gail Ann Bondar, the Chamber’s manager of Member Engagement and Services.


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