By Sheldon Leiba
Before there was Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, business people had an interest and need to connect with one another, for business networking, sharing, learning, and exchange. Throughout time there has been no better social network than the local Board of Trade, and it still remains true today.
In communities throughout Canada, North America, and the world, there are local business associations – a collective of businesses and business people in a community – that have played an invaluable role in shaping their local economy and community. The Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce has been the gathering place, where business people committed to improving their businesses and communities, have connected. Traditionally, the connections have been facilitated through meetings, events, referrals and introductions. With the advancement of technology, email and the internet, connecting people and business has become easier. And now we have social media.
Just a few years ago, Mississauga Board of Trade, like many organizations was just dabbling in social media. We now have an active strategy to leverage social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to engage, communicate and connect with our members and various stakeholders. In fact our social media forums are one the most active that you would find for a local Board of Trade. These tools have helped enhance what we do – sharing, exchange, learning and connecting. And to help our members leverage the benefits of social media, we have been hosting regular business education seminars on social media, many filled to capacity or sold-out.
However, despite the increasing popularity of social media, there is still a need for personal relationships, and face-to-face connection, in building business relationships. While technology is a great enabler of communication and exchange, we lose the texture of interpersonal connection through emails, voice mail, and social media. So it is no accident that while MBOT has a tremendous following on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, we are also seeing record attendance at our many various events. Using social media and personal face-to-face networking are in fact very complementary.
Sheldon Leiba is President and CEO of the Mississauga Board of Trade. He can be reached at SLeiba@mbot.com