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Sunrise, sunset: Chamber of Commerce socials help businesses network, share services

Sometimes in business it isn't 'what' you know, it's 'who' you know.

That's why the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce makes its Sunrise and Sunset Socials a big priority.

They used to be known as 'after hours' events, where chamber members would get together at a restaurant to have a drink and chat with other chamber members.

They were also primarily social get-togethers.

Since the Chamber re-started its program a year and a half ago, they've transformed the events to be geared more towards real networking -- held at different businesses each month.

Chamber President Carrie Johnston says it's a much better way for chamber members to truly get to know their neighbors' businesses.

"We'll go around the room and everybody will tell about their business or at least introduce themselves," said Johnston. "It's a place where people can ask questions if they're looking for something or need something like a new supplier, or just want to get their name and face out there more."

Johnston says the socials have been a big success, with 30 to 40 different businesses showing up each month. "And even if it's the same businesses, they seem to send different people -- so there are a lot of different faces there."

Johnston says whether a person is new to a business or well-seasoned, it's a chance for area professionals to fill their rolodexes with other professionals they meet face to face.

"It's about working together -- you shake my hand, I'll shake yours," said Johnston.

The offer to host a social is open to any of the 450 chamber members, as long as there is room to accommodate everybody.

Hosts get the benefit of more exposure to the community, which is accompanied by more of an understanding of their product or service.

The next Sunset Social is being held at the Detroit Lakes Newspapers office on Thursday, October 13.

"It's an opportunity for others to see our facility and how it's changed in the past five to 10 years, especially since the growth of our online component," says Detroit Lakes Newspapers Publisher Dennis Winskowski, who adds that it also gives newspaper employees a chance to mix with their client base.

"If a client understands and learns what we have to offer, it's to their benefit when they make their decisions and decide 'how do I get my message across' if they know what we have available," Winskowski said.

Although the Sunset Social begins at 5 p.m., this time the Chamber is also adding a 'How to Network' seminar a half hour prior to the event.

"There are a lot of people who aren't necessarily used to the real networking aspect," said Johnston, "so we hope to give them the tools to not only be able to make those connections with some tricks of the trade, but also to inform them on some of the opportunities outside of the Chamber."

Johnston says there is a certain state of mind that makes the socials a success.

"When people come with the attitude of 'how can I help others through my business' instead of 'how is this going to help my business'," says Johnston, "it becomes more of a community thing -- a way to help each other out."

Johnston says one way local businesses can do that is by sharing services, whether that be resources, information or suppliers.

"And it allows us to all sort of become hometown tourists where we really know what's here and we can make referrals and be proud of what we have," Johnston adds.

Although an RSVP is encouraged, there's no need to register for the events; just show up.

The Oct. 13 Sunset Social hosted by Detroit Lakes Newspapers is located at 511 Washington Ave., and goes from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Fall treats will be served.

The Oct. 28 Sunrise Social is from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. at the Rural MN CEP Office, 801 Roosevelt Ave., Detroit Lakes.

For more information on the Socials, call the Chamber at 218-847-9202 or log on to