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COATES: Helping businesses navigate COVID-19

“Pivot” – a word that has gained popularity in our 2020 vocabulary. Ever since mid-March we all have had to pivot to survive.

Businesses have had to pivot to accommodate new regulations and state mandates. Community members have had to pivot to be able to access resources for their families. Organizations have had to pivot to fulfill new needs from their constituents.

We at the DeKalb Chamber have been no exception. We saw the changes that were going to be required to keep people safe and moving forward in their businesses. We have not allowed the pandemic to hinder our serving the DeKalb area.

As restaurants and bars were mandated to close their dine-in areas, we started our #DineOutDeKalb campaign. As the state’s recovery phases progressed, we created our “Open For Business Page,” alerting the public to which members were open. These promotional efforts encourage the community to support DeKalb Chamber member establishments. Feedback gathered from these businesses clearly indicated they greatly appreciated the support. They benefited from customers who helped keep doors open and staff paid.

Even now, over four months into the pandemic, things seem to change hourly. By attending webinars and Zoom meetings, we continue to give our members the most current and accurate info as they continue navigating an up-ended market. Once COVID-19 established itself as the new normal, we initiated sending daily updates about new regulations, best practices, financial assistance programs, and free webinars and articles to educate our members.

Although we couldn’t meet in person, we wouldn’t let that stop us from connecting! To continue to bring value to our membership despite social distancing, we offer free Zoom meetings for our members with topics ranging from how to find your target audience to how unexpected collaborations help you and others. Members can also learn how to use the pandemic shutdown as a new start. We even did fun events like Virtual Business Social Hours and Trivia Nights.

After a few months of hosting Zooms we had to pivot, again: many people were getting burned out on “sitting” in a room with 30 people either not talking or waiting for the chance to talk. Therefore, we incorporated the Breakout Room to give members one-on-one time. We have received a lot of positive responses for incorporating this new approach to networking. It’s been a great resource for our new members during quarantine and our speed networking hours that we will continue to have.

The DeKalb Chamber continues to pivot as the state opens more. We are being smart about hosting in-person events by using the safest, best practices. As events go on, we will evaluate where we can grow and how to make improvements for the community. We want everyone to feel safe when attending.

We appreciate our members pivoting with us! We continue to listen to what they need and take steps to help the business community to grow and thrive even in these uncertain times. Visit for updates and events.

• Anna Coates is Membership Manager for the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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