Business professionals in Watertown got a chance to flee their offices, shake each others hands and exchange business cards Wednesday.
Sixty-three businesses set up promotional booths at the Business Networking Expo at the Dulles State Office Building. Organizers said attendance topped last years turnout as most professionals stuck around for a chance to wine and nosh later in the evening at Business After Hours, hosted by the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce.
First-time participant James R. Zuch, supervisor of the trophy and promotion department at Bradleys Military Enterprises on Route 11, Evans Mills, said the business-to-business expo was a chance to branch out to the business community in Watertown. Bradleys is upgrading its website this fall, he said, so customers can order customized trophies and plaques online.
We get most of our business from soldiers at the base, and we want people in Watertown to come out to us and businesses to know were here, said Mr. Zuch, whose display featured wooden plaques and other customized memorabilia. He said he hopes area businesses will see the value of shopping locally rather than surfing the Internet to buy products outside the region. Most of Bradleys products are made in the U.S.
Id rather have them come here than going to stores with products made in Japan, he said. We can help local businesses and keep the money here.
Other booths, such as the Association of the United States Army, showed business professionals ways to get linked to community causes. Former Watertown City Manager Mary M. Corriveau, who now serves as vice president of membership for AUSAs north country chapter, said its mission is to promote and defend causes for soldiers at Fort Drum. To help get professionals to better understand military life, she said, the organization offers classes for businesses that collaborate with the military to learn more about what they do on post.
For the program Day in the Life of a Soldier, professionals visit Fort Drum to learn about what soldiers do every day and eat lunch with leaders. Another course teaches them the basics of being a soldier, such as acronyms used by military personnel and training that goes on at the post. Signing up as members is another way businesses can support the cause.
It adds to the voice and volume of our message, Mrs. Corriveau said.
Small-business owners in the same industries also had a chance to strike up conversations. Carthage business owner Erika A. Leonard, for example, talked with Michael Macmillan, owner of Sideline Promotions in Watertown, about how their different marketing businesses could form a partnership by offering each other services.
Hes looking to add direct mail items designed for promotion, said Mrs. Leonard, who owns marketing businesses NNY Print and Lets Play Thousand Islands. We can provide business cards and marketing for him to send to households.
Michelle A. Farrell, director of events for the Chamber, said the expo drew more traffic than last year. The wine and hors doeuvres offered for Business After Hours during the evening helped that cause.
A lot of people are coming later to enjoy the food, she said.
Its the second year the expo, which previously was held at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, has been hosted at Dulles to accommodate the new format, Ms. Farrell said.