There is a significant chasm between contact and connection. However, many times the two are either confused or used synonymously. The key is often that, at least for many service-based organizations, focus and success are dependent on not just contacting but connecting with stakeholders, including both customers and end-users. Confusing a contact with a connection, in this case, can lead one to be misguided or aimless. It is with this understanding that my first 90-days as President|CEO have been largely focused on connecting with as many stakeholders in the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce as possible.
This focus is particularly relevant to chambers of commerce in that we are membership-owned organizations. At its best, The Chamber is little other than a manifestation of the vision that its members have for it. While that manifestation may not be a measurable goal, it can certainly be linked directly to the achievement of those goals that are measurable. Without a connection to that vision, any hope of properly manifesting it can be lost.
So, what is the difference between a contact and a connection? For me, a contact is made anytime something is done or not done. To be certain, even the absence of something can be a contact. For example, a restauranteur will often pay close attention to what patrons do not order. By not doing something, the patron is creating a point of contact with that restauranteur.
Where a contact becomes a connection is when a response is elicited. Not all responses are positive, but a negative response can be better than a contact absent a connection. Responses can create a loop when the response is directly received by the person who initiated the contact, or an extension when the response is tangential and perhaps even unknown to the person who initiated the contact. In either case, the transition from contact to connection is where opportunity is created. When the restauranteur tweaks a menu based on what patrons are not ordering, an opportunity is created.
Your chamber is in the business of creating opportunities for building value and relationships. In our pursuit to promote, connect, and support your business, we rely on connections to inform us of those opportunities. The challenge, of course, is creating connections with the over 1300 members who invest in the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. So, while I’ve been working to connect with as many of you as I can, there is still a long way to go and I hope to ultimately create a continual connection loop whereby the process never ends.
That being the case, my goal for this column was to simply create another point of contact whereby I invite your feedback and the opportunity to meet with you. I excitedly look forward to the connection.
Blog Post by Kevin Cooper, President | CEO of The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce