Chamber of Commerce plans in-person and virtual 'hybrid' events in March
Chamber President and CEO Shannon Full said there’s a thirst in the business community for face-to-face networking. “Many of the companies are saying the Chamber is one of the first indicators of getting back to normal,” she said.
MOORHEAD - Move over online meetings, face-to-face networking is getting ready to elbow-bump its way back into the metro area’s business community.
The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce plans to offer “hybrid” events in March, giving members an option to attend either in-person or through a virtual link.
Chamber President and CEO Shannon Full said there’s a thirst in the business community for face-to-face networking.
“Many of the companies are saying the Chamber is one of the first indicators of getting back to normal,” Full said Thursday, Feb. 4. “There were numerous businesses saying they were waiting for the Chamber to take the lead.”
The Chamber’s three March events will all include the option to attend in person or virtually, Full said, with the capacity of the events tailored to the guidelines and regulations for each city, state and the Centers for Disease Control.
Occupancy will be limited, larger venues will be used, tables will be set 6 feet apart, and there will be sanitizing stations.
“It’s all about consumer confidence” for each individual, Full said. “What is their comfort level about getting back to in-person events?”
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The coronavirus pandemic, which forced business shutdowns and restrictions on gatherings during 2020, is not done with the nation. There are more than 455,000 dead nationwide and about 3,000 people still die daily due to the disease.
But people have become more comfortable with masking up, social distancing, washing hands and using sanitizers. The rollout of vaccinations to protect against the worst effects of COVID-19 is also giving people hope.
As part of adapting, businesses learned the usefulness of online connections, Full said.
“A hybrid event has the best of all worlds. We have the opportunity to keep a virtual audience” for those homebound by bad weather or out of the area, she said. Chamber events “in the future will always have this hybrid option,” Full said.
That said, the Chamber is about bringing people together.
“We know our members are longing for those relationships. With a hybrid, we get to have both of those aspects," Full said.
The FMWF Chamber is among the first business groups to set up hybrid events in the region, Full said.
The first hybrid event will be an Eggs and Issues Tuesday morning, March 2, at the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead.
A Wednesday, March 10, noon-hour business training event will be held at the Fargo Holiday Inn.
And Tuesday afternoon, March 23, A Women Connect event will be held at Fargo’s Avalon Events Center.
All the events will be livestreamed.
“Some of our March events are some of our smaller events. … but I will be very interested to see our first After Hours. We haven’t had a Business After Hours” for more than a year, she said.
The next Business After Hours event will be April 8 at the Delta by Marriott in Fargo. Previous events have drawn 750 to 1,500 people. This one will use the entire ballroom, but it will be segmented, Full said.
There are greater costs to presenting any program on a livestream, she said.
Also, the Chamber will monitor how the pandemic is affecting the area. If health trends are poor locally, the Chamber can delay an event or go all online as needed.
“It’s a learning process. We certainly don’t have all the answers. We’re looking for insights and observations from our members. I think (hybrid events) will be a fun piece.”