Chamber committees connect professionals and parish residents with peers by hosting a variety of events to promote positive relationships and networking opportunities
The Ambassadors are a dedicated organization serving as points of contact, continuously welcoming new individual members and businesses in the community. They host meet-and-greets, participate in ribbon-cutting ceremonies throughout the year and serve at Chamber functions.
Additionally, the Ambassadors personally deliver packets of information and answer questions for new members, making for a smooth transition.
It’s not just about the time they put into their volunteer service — it’s also about the face-time. The Ambassadors personally get to know each member and make the experience for new members a welcoming one by explaining how to maximize their Chamber membership. The
Ambassadors also offer tips and make sure to reach out to new members at events. “They are strong mentors who keep up with new members, especially during the first three months,” said Amanda Hoerner, Director of Membership. “We want them to stay really engaged, and they do.”
Hoerner explained that in order to be an Ambassador, one has to apply and make sure they can keep up with the busy schedule.
Though the Ambassadors are unpaid, Hoerner said the Chamber treats them like an extension of the Chamber staff. “They are truly the rock stars of our membership,” she said.
Many events would not be possible without the Ambassadors’ sheer dedication to the organization. Their time commitment is admirable — each ambassador is likely to attend and help out with up to 75 events per year, said Hoerner.
“They’ll help out in any facet, work the tables, booths and help out with registration [at Chamber events]. They are super visible. I typically have about 18-20 at events,” said Hoerner.
Hoerner herself served as an Ambassador for the Chamber before she was hired full-time, so she is not only extensively familiar with the committee, but she credits it for getting her involved in a career that she truly embraces.
In addition to the Chamber’s signature events, the Ambassadors are also seen at meetings, fundraisers, happy hours, seminars and other promotional gatherings. Attending the aforementioned ribbon-cutting ceremonies are also a crucial part of what the Ambassadors do.
“Ribbon-cutting ceremonies are offered to members free of charge,” explained Hoerner.
When a new business opens or expands to a new location, she and Todd Murphy, President of the Chamber, attend the events and invite the ambassadors and other prominent leaders in the community. “It’s a great way to welcome this [new business] to the community. We take a photo and we promote it on social media and on our website to help the members gain exposure,” said Hoerner.
“It takes true dedication to be an Ambassador,” she said.
One way the Jefferson Chamber has embraced its ever-expanding membership and community is by catering to young professionals. In the past few years, the Chamber has made it a focal point to host more events for people in their 20s and 30s as the region continues to attract people of this age group.
By reaching out to young professionals in the community, the Chamber is able to plan and execute more philanthropic initiatives, educational events, networking parties, seminars, and career and leadership development opportunities.
A Young Professionals Steering Committee selection occurs once a year, and this Committee meets at the Chamber on the first Tuesday of every month to discuss progress and to implement new opportunities for young professionals.
The events tend to be lighthearted — happy hours at local restaurants with discounted appetizers and drink specials often draw up to 80 people.
Hoerner is also aware that the younger crowd tends to keep busier schedules, so she says that they make sure to accommodate the schedules by hosting a variety of events throughout the month at different times.
One highlight of the Young Professionals Committee is the “How To Be A Grownup” seminar series. The series is extremely beneficial for people just starting off in their careers. “There is one seminar per quarter with different speakers who come to address the young professionals on a variety of topics,” explained Hoerner. The topics in 2017 ranged from staying healthy while keeping a work-life balance, to managing a 401k and properly using body language when communicating in the work place. “The series is well-rounded,” Hoerner noted. “We try to get speakers with a vast array of knowledge. Some of them have written books or do a lot of speaking engagements.”
Young professionals in Jefferson Parish are also encouraged by the Chamber to get involved in community service and other charitable endeavors. Volunteering is a great way to get them engaged and excited about opportunities, as well as build friendships and valuable networking experience. For example, members of the Young Professionals Committee can volunteer to work at Wednesday at the Square, a weekly popular concert series in New Orleans that draws in a number of young professionals and families from around the area. In 2017, the Young Professionals Committee created a new event: Power Lunch. The Power Lunches are smaller and more intimate than the socials and happy hour events. Each Power Lunch features a different higher-level executive from the community. “We usually cap these at about 15-20 people,” said Hoerner. “The reason for the attendance cap is so the attendees can get together and have more meaningful conversations with the featured executive in a sit-down, comfortable environment.”
When all is said and done, Hoerner believes the Young Professionals Committee is truly a valuable program for its members’ personal and professional development, helping them to build networks and obtain referrals for other jobs down the line.
“The young professionals involved in the Committee have also built their own network, so when they go to signature events like the Gala or Crawfish Boil, they know other young professionals to pal around with,” said Hoerner. “These young professionals are the future of our parish and the business community, so we want them to feel welcome.”