An unwritten rule of business is that relationships often determine the level of success for organizations and individuals. You may have heard the saying, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” and we all recognize that work takes up a significant amount of our time. Therefore, we must be intentional about fostering professional relationships with workplace colleagues, fellow industry members, and those in the broader business community.

At the Chamber, we are focused on providing opportunities for “networking with purpose” … to strengthen relationships among business leaders in a way that advances individual, organizational, and community prosperity. Regardless of the specific subject, every Chamber event has the unstated goal of connecting the best and brightest in our community. For 135 years, the Chamber has had as its mission to provide common ground, to overcome common challenges, for the common good. That mission is only accomplished when business leaders have built strong relationships.

Sometimes in business, we can make the mistake of taking a transactional approach to relationships, but this does not pay off in the long run. We must approach every relationship with the reality that the other person has intrinsic value (rather than simply an interaction from which we selfishly hope to extract value). When approached in this way, relationships become more than a transaction and instead become a genuine human interaction. Those we relate to most will develop into friendships and enrich our lives for the better. Throughout my life, the relationships fostered through work and service have become some of the most important and cherished.

The power of relationships is the power of possibility. Mentors, friends and colleagues have enriched my personal and professional experiences, and I am grateful for their support. The commitment we show to relationships will require time and effort, but this dedication to show up will pay off and help shape our community for the better. My call to each of us is to nurture our relationships, as they hold power, inspiration, new possibilities, and in the end, they hold a piece of our potential.