WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Chamber of Commerce (WOCC) recently hosted a Member Networking Meeting at Suzy Que’s, where guests learned about upcoming chamber meetings and events and the new website, while networking and dining on barbeque wings, pulled-pork mini sandwiches and grilled vegetables donated by the restaurant. This was the last member networking meeting of 2016, with one a month scheduled to take place in 2017.

To break the ice, Brittany Chiles, the executive director of the chamber, asked guests to not only provide information on their businesses but to share an item on their bucket list as well. Answers spanned from being able to do a cartwheel and traveling to every U.S. state, to taking a trip to the Maldives.

Chiles said that she liked the mix of new members and veteran members in the room and that she was excited that the chamber will be having these events every month in 2017, where members will have more opportunities to host and show off their businesses.

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“I think this was a fun event to attend, and I met a lot of very interesting people," said new WOCC member Arnie Amir of Growth Point Business Consulting. "I hope the chamber has many more events like it and I am looking forward to the Thanksgiving Luncheon.”

Arlene Silikovitz, who works with her husband, WOCC Board of Directors Member Dr. Ron Silikovitz, at Metropolitan Psychological Services, said that the event was a great networking opportunity and that she enjoyed the food.

“I had a great time at the energetic meeting and I got to meet great people and do some fun networking,” said WOCC Executive Board Member and Treasurer Tina Parson of Regal Bank, which was named the Business of the Year this year by the chamber during the WOCC Community Awards Dinner.

“It was great to see all my old friends and meet some new ones," said WOCC Board of Directors Member and owner of Advantage Pest Control Rick Brill. “It’s great when we can all get together and share a meal.”

According to the WOCC website, the chamber of commerce of the 21st Century is the marketplace for business networking. More than 20 million businesses worldwide are members of local chambers of commerce.

Benefits like generating revenue and supporting other business processes via relationships made through a chamber of commerce are described as being as compelling as finding old schoolmates or potential dating partners.

The basic mission of the WOCC is to create and promote a climate where business can operate in a productive and profitable manner. A WOCC membership includes cooperative advertising and social media opportunities, networking and business education opportunities and a two-minute business infomercial on local access channels Comcast 36 and FIOS 45.

Chamber members also have access to the WOCC Facebook page and a comprehensive website with options for basic and enhanced business listings, banner ads and more. Click here to learn about becoming a member or call 973-731-0360.

The WOCC hosts many community events including a WOCC breakfast, with the Mayor’s State of the Town Address in January and the WOCC Community Awards Dinner. Below is a list of other upcoming chamber events:

  • The annual Thanksgiving Luncheon, hosted by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, in association with UNICO, Rotary and Lions Club, is scheduled for Nov. 23. (Click here for tickets.) This is the only event of the year where the four largest West Orange service organizations join forces for an “inspirational celebration of the town’s long-standing community spirit and continuing prosperity,” according to the website. The event offers participants the chance to give thanks for the opportunities that living and working in West Orange has provided, and also affords the opportunity to network. Guests are asked to bring non-perishable foods for the town-wide food drive, with food donations that will benefit the Holy Trinity Food Pantry.
  • Those interested in networking with chambers from Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn/Short Hills, North Essex and South Orange can participate in the Dec. 8 Joint Chamber Event. (For details, call 973-731-0360.)
  • The WOCC is also participating in West Orange Restaurant Week, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3 with the Downtown West Orange Alliance, Public Relations Commission and West Orange Township.

In addition, the WOCC is sponsoring the Biz 2.0 Workshop series, where participants network and learn about managing growth, making the most of resources and how to put new marketing and sales strategies to work. All meetings are free and take place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the West Orange Public Library. Click here to reserve a seat.

Upcoming events:

  • On Nov. 17, Beth Hendler-Grunt, of Next Great Step, is leading a discussion on “Making the Sale: How to Get the Results You Want,” which will address how to plan ahead and get the most out of every interaction to advance one’s business. The interactive workshop will discuss the value of call planning and getting the outcome desired from meetings. Hendler-Grunt said those who just “wing it” or have a meeting they think went well without getting the expected result, will benefit from this session.
  • On Dec. 1, Roxanne Levinston, of It’s Business, will be leading a talk entitled “Keep Customers Coming Back: Tips and Ideas to Stay Ahead," focusing on how it is easier to retain existing customers than to prospect for new ones. In this interactive session, participants will uncover ways to improve their communication and customer service and will walk away with five “smart” strategies for securing repeat business.
  • On Jan. 5, Barry Gartenberg, a business attorney, will discuss “The Most Common (and Avoidable) Legal Mistakes Small Business Owners Make.” Gartenberg will share information on ways to avoid potentially serious legal mistakes small business owners commonly make when starting and running their business. Participants are asked to bring their questions about choosing a business entity (LLC vs. corporation), partnership agreements, employee issues and more.
  • On Feb. 2, presenter Alyson Distel, of Edison Business Solutions, explains why it's important to use a financial accounting software such as QuickBooks for a business, regardless of the size of a business, with her discussion entitled “OuickBooks: ‘A Tale of 2 Companies.’” She will also provide an overview of how QuickBooks works and why it’s worth the investment.