By Amy Schechter

With so much for consumers to choose from, it is no wonder Forbes magazine recommends business owners purposefully network with both customers and colleagues. The Valrico/Fishhawk Chamber of Commerce offers a Morning Power Hour bringing together dynamic local business leaders in a structured round-table setting to do just that.

The Power Hour begins with open networking followed by a designed session where every member has the opportunity to present a 40 second “commercial.” Members also present their current needs, such as seeking referrals or introducing business challenges/successes, which allows the group to brainstorm solutions and puts members in contact with colleagues who can assist in meeting business goals.

Following this opening session, each individual enters into a weekly rotation to determine a spotlight speaker who will then have 10 minutes to address the group. These presentations are a great opportunity to discuss the member’s business model, advertising ideas, promotion of current specials, and specific challenges they may be facing. The spotlight presentation is followed by a question and answer session where the other members provide tips and insight. Participants really benefit from having a sounding board for their ideas and challenges, find it easier to make difficult business decisions, and have noticed a widening clientele since they started attending.

The group’s facilitator, Melissa Haskins, a financial advisor with Edward Jones said, “We can really be an advocate,” and market the members to potential and existing clients, which builds a salesforce. The group is also seat-specific, which offers exclusivity and increases members’ chances of developing an extensive network of consumers and colleagues to grow your business.

The Morning Power Hour meets every Monday from 7:30-8:30 a.m. in the conference room of the Campo Family YMCA at 3414 Culbreath Rd. Open to current Chamber of Commerce members, the group is seeking greater participation. Haskins also urges local business owners to join the chamber and take advantage of the many benefits of membership. For more information, contact or 759-1491 and visit

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