Business After 5 mixers, presented by the Solon Chamber of Commerce each month, have become “wildly popular,” according to President and CEO Thomas Bennett.

Not only do the after-hour mixers appeal to business people who work regular 9-to-5 jobs, but the events give a unique opportunity to network, all while highlighting a variety of city establishments.

“It’s a great way for folks to connect and network without necessarily there being content,” Mr. Bennett said of the absence of a regular program.

So far this year, the chamber has presented eight mixers at businesses including Burntwood Tavern, Burgers 2 Beer, Rose, Rollhouse Entertainment and Rusty Bucket.

Last week, a crowd of about 35 people gathered at the Hampton by Hilton on Enterprise Parkway for a combined mixer and ribbon cutting that unveiled the hotel’s recent renovations. State Sen. Matthew Dolan, R-Chagrin Falls, was on hand as was Solon Mayor Edward H. Kraus and Solon city’s Director of Business and Marketing Angee Shaker.

“Chamber mixers are a terrific venue for members of the business community to meet other professionals,” Ms. Shaker said. “You never know who you will meet and where those relationships will lead.

“It’s a great place for businesses to find new customers,” she said.

While at the mixer, Ms. Shaker said she focused on economic and business development, asking those in attendance how their businesses are doing.

“I can learn if a business needs to expand and is looking for more space,” Ms. Shaker said, “if they have workforce development needs or if they are interested in making some high-quality building improvements.”

She sees the mixers as a great place to offer some quick suggestions, exchange business cards and then follow up with resources and other key contacts.

Mr. Bennett spent his time both networking and also connecting people that evening.

“Members are engaged and see familiar faces, while new members get to meet others throughout the night,” Mr. Bennett said.

While the monthly mixers don’t fall under a theme, Mr. Bennett said they do speak to the chamber’s commitment to celebrate its members on a regular basis.

The Hampton gathering was an effort to note the commitment the hotel has to Solon and their property and the fact that they serve the needs of the businesses and the community as a whole.

At some of the mixers, which can draw up to 50, attendees are treated to a tour of the restaurant if they desire. The mixers are free to attend with the host site providing food. There is typically a cash bar.

“It’s definitely a great thing for new members to get introduced to a lot of other members,” Mr. Bennett said. The mixers give chamber representatives the ability to walk around and introduce people to lots of individuals in a single night, he said.

“A traditional program might not afford that opportunity,” he said.

Mr. Bennett said it is important that the chamber offers things at different times of the day based on people’s work and availability.

“That’s one of our goals this year – to deliver something for everyone,” he added.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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