Chamber of Commerce Commits Roundtable to Human Resources
By Natalie R. Schrimpf
The Solon Chamber of Commerce understands the intrinsic value of networking, especially as it relates to human resources professionals. For the past 11 years the chamber has provided an extensive HR support program to its members that has been met with great success.
Comprised of about 165 chamber members who are either human resources professionals or individuals working in a related field, the Solon Human Resources Roundtable (SHRR) offers a strategic blend of monthly speaker luncheons, biannual legal updates, and an organized approach in its use of social media to keep members apprised of the latest industry issues, trends, and job openings.
Each month SHRR members attend free chamber luncheons that feature experts who highlight current topics, ranging from employment verification systems and immigration law to social networking at the office. The meetings also serve as forums for participants to share information.
In an effort to bring members up-to-speed on legal issues, twice a year the chamber hosts a legal update. Attorneys present a range of timely information on subjects, including healthcare reform and the Family Medical Leave Act. A nominal fee covers the cost of lunch.
Another program benefit lies in members’ ability to electronically communicate with the chamber and each other in a streamlined fashion, according to Nancy Traum, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer.
"(A large and diverse membership) allows us to do programs that other chambers might not be able to present if they don’t have the critical mass of people to serve the way we do."
Individuals may e-mail the chamber specific industry questions as well as suggested solutions to related challenges. The information is coordinated by Susan Drotleff, SHRR chair, and subsequently e-mailed from the chamber to all members.
“This process prevents our members from receiving numerous separate e-mail responses,” Traum says.
The service is also used to post job openings and for resume sharing.
“When HR professionals recommend someone specific who is seeking a position, they include the person’s name in an e-mail that is sent twice a month,” Traum says. “In this way, other HR professionals looking for that particular talent can open the resume and regard it as someone who has been referred to them.”
Critical Mass Membership
The benefits of this type of offering are numerous. It facilitates networking between HR professionals and enables them to remain current on the latest regulations and best practices within their field, Traum says. And members regard the program as highly valuable.
One reason it is so successful is due to the chamber’s unique make-up, she says.
Although the Solon Chamber of Commerce’s 500 member companies are quite diverse, a significant number are in the industrial sector and have extensive HR departments.
“This allows us to do programs that other chambers might not be able to present if they don’t have the critical mass of people to serve the way we do.”
The chamber also presents similar types of programs tailored to other membership groups, such as Solon Women in Business and Solon Young Professionals. However, the SHRR is the most complex and the only one that currently includes the e-mail component, Traum adds.
Words of Advice
When asked how widespread this type of program is among other chambers, Traum says that she has heard of some that are trying a similar approach, but she is not aware of their degrees of success.
It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, she cautions.
Chambers that are interested in this approach must have the right membership base. “Unless you have a lot of HR professionals, it isn’t going to work,” she says.
Traum advises chambers to understand their membership base to determine their members’ needs, as every chamber will have slightly different priorities. But, she says, today’s electronic communications tools help facilitate the entire process.
“I’d suggest that even small chambers utilize technology to create a similar program, as there is so much available now that wasn’t as commonplace when we initiated ours more than a decade ago,” she says.
For more information: solonchamber.com