Business

Impressive line up of speakers for Chilliwack Business Conference

Running a small business can be an isolating experience, and opportunities for professional development rare and expensive.

And yet, without an injection of fresh ideas a businesses can grow stale.

That’s why for the third year in a row, the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce has brought some of the best in the business world to Chilliwack to share their knowledge and offer their inspiration in a two-day workshop.

The conference has something for everyone, says Chamber executive director Pattie MacAhonic. “It’s an excellent opportunity for professional development in the realm of lifelong learning.”

But the key, says MacAhonic, has been to bring in speakers and organize workshops that have a practical application in Chilliwack.

Participants will have eight workshops to choose from over the two days. Topics range from managing stress in the workplace to understanding the needs of your customers.

Employees are the backbone of any business and that’s something Carol Hama understands. As director of the City of Richmond’s human resources department, she’s helped earn that city national recognition. She’ll be in Chilliwack to offer business owners concrete ways to keep their employees engaged and enthused.

Understanding your customers is also critical to the success of any business, MacAhonic says. But it’s not just understanding what they want, it’s knowing what they need.

Debbie Palmer has more than 25 years experience motivating and inspiring sales professionals. She’ll show participants how to determine the “needs” of their customers – something particularly important in tight economic times, when discretionary spending is limited.

Says MacAhonic: “If you have what the customer needs, you’ll have the sale.”

Topics for some of the other workshops include workplace safety, incorporating social media into your business presence, and understanding credit and credit management.

In addition to the workshops, several speakers will also share their experiences. For example, Alex MacAuley and Joel Primus, who were featured on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, will talk about their journey. Guests also include Maureen Kirkbride, president of the BC Chamber of Commerce, and Michael Graydon, president and CEO of the BC Lottery Corporation.

Keynote speaker for the event is Ryan Walter, a former NHL player and coach who will help participants focus their energy and thoughts toward personal wellness.

MacAhonic says the lineup is impressive, and would be out of reach for many small business owners in larger centers. But the Chilliwack Chamber made a concerted effort to make it accessible to local business. It’s now even offering tickets to the two-day event for $100 in hopes of encouraging more people – owners, employees or even someone thinking of opening a business – to take part

“The people that we have are very down-to-earth, very hands-on,” MacAhonic says. “They understand what businesses need to survive.”

Participants will like what they hear, she says. “When they leave the conference they’re going to walk away and say ‘Wow.’”

The Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce Business Conference is Oct. 18-19, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Coast Chilliwack Hotel. For ticket information call 604.793.4323.

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