Networking at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

Irv Spivak

In the late 1980’s I joined the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce to jumpstart my networking and relationship building skills. One of my principal  activities was participating in the twice-monthly networking groupsBusiness Alliance 1.

Though I’m not a ‘morning person’, I chose the Tuesday AM group, knowing I could commit to its schedule. The group, led by Chair, Irv Spivak. Today, Ordained Secular Minster; then, the undisputed San Francisco King of the burgeoning world of Voice Mail and Pay Telephone Booths (wow, 25 years had given us major change in communications).

Co-Chair was Suzanne Tucker. Then and Today, Owner of One Stop Graphics.

There were 30 of us in the group; only one to a profession. Every meeting, we went ’round the room, each giving a 30-second commercial about our business, honing our skills in a friendly and supportive environment. At each session, two members gave a 10-minute promotional talk about their business, focused on its key areas of focus, and what would make a good lead for their business

Suzanne Tuckr
Suzanne Tuckr

We ended the session by circling the room, one more time, each of us dispensing sizzling hot leads (a phrase coined by Irv). This was not a name and phone number, but someone we had talked to about a fellow member’s business. And, had received permission to share the prospect’s name, phone number, and specific needs with our Business Alliance cohort.

In our uber-busy world, it’s easy to let skills, such as these, fall by the wayside. I can’t…. because they were embedded into my subconscious by Business Alliance 1 at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce

After Shock

On October 17, 1989, people throughout the San Francisco Bay Area were shaken by the Loma Prieta Earthquake. I had just returned from a conference in Phoenix, not one hour before the quake.

On the phone with a client in Los Angeles, my third-story apartment started to shake. I lost the phone connection, dove under my desk, and heard glass breaking at the front of the apartment. After about 30 seconds, shaking stopped, and I surveyed the damage. Just a few broken glasses… no phone connection… no power; nothing dramatic. Phew!

Where was my wife, Chris? She normally worked at a bank branch in Foster City. That day, she was part of a seminar team,toward the South Bay, near Palo Alto, off of Highway 280. It was now only 5:15pm, I gathered myself, batteries, and candles. In a very long two hours, Chris magically appeared; bedraggled, but no worse for the wear.

She recounted getting her students outside, from the 2-3 story seminar building, out an open parking lot, away from breaking glass or worse, a building collapse. Fortunately, her drive home was still during daylight hours. Stretches of Highway 280 were squeezed by the quake, creating temporary skate board ramps in the middle of the road. She drove off-road, around these impassable sections, and as the days passed, the highway settled back to a level state.

Survivor Guilt

As the phones and electricity began to come back to life, I started to feel survivor guiltSan Francisco power was coming back on, slowly, section by section. We lived in Diamond Heights and could see a reflection of flames, in the sky, coming from homes and businesses burning, in the San Francisco Marina. Until almost 11pm, we could only see two buildings, with lights on, in the South side of the city… San Francisco City Hall and San Francisco General Hospital.

The Morning After

The tumultuous events of October 17th were not a dream. It was random chaos of all sorts: buildings damaged beyond repair, the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge in a state of partial collapse, the collapse of the Cypress structure (Highway 880), punctuated by a postponement of the Giants – A’s World Series.

And then came a voicemail message from Irv. We were in the dark ages of communications, or so it seems, now. With some good strategy, Irv had crafted and sent a message to everyone he knew in greater San Francisco…. clients, members of Business Alliance, friends, acquaintances. Essentially, he said just a couple of things in that voicemail message

  • If you are in distress… in need of a place to stay, move your business belongings, whatever… call him (Irv) back and let him know what your needs are and the best phone number to get in touch.
  • If you were in good shape… please let him know what you can offer: transportation, muscle, a place to sleep, some temporary office space, whatever might be helpful
  • And then… Irv would become the matchmaker, connecting needs with volunteers
Jonathan and Mojdeh Stone
Jonathan and Mojdeh Stone

Soon Irv connected Chris and me with another member San Francisco Chamber memberADBP (Another Dancing Bear Productions), owned by Jonathan and Mojdeh Stone. Their lives were disrupted in every way. The ADBP office was on the second floor of a brick building on Front Street. The building was condemned, immediately.

Somehow they managed to get 15 minutes dispensation to go into the building (using a cherry-picker) and retrieve their business records. ADBP sold corporate gifts, imprinted items, that sort of thing. They could get new manufacturer samples, easily, but managing to retrieve customer records was a huge win.

Their monthly parking space, near the office, was underneath the Embarcadero Freeway. The road was closed, pending inspection. Ultimately, it would be disassembled, making way for a boulevard. Jonathan and Mo’s Marina apartment had been red-tagged. Meaning… they couldn’t go into the apartment until the fire department had inspected the property and deemed it structurally sound.

Jonathan and Mo had a place to stay, with relatives. Within a couple of days, they had managed to make a connection for new (or at least temporary) office apace. Chris and I were able to help by using two of my vans, and the four of us transported the new furniture into their office.

A relationship sprouted out of a massive, tragic event. Everyone knew someone, affected. Just being able to help out, even a little, was a healing experience. Making lifelong friends was completely unexpected and the ultimate bonus.

Andy Ebon



PS: Next Monday evening, August 25th, I will be speaking at a Networking Event as part of the WeddingWire Education Team at The City Club of San Francisco, walking distance from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the second generation of ADBP offices.

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Susan RoAne Revisited: Mingling Maven is an inspiration

music-man-logoCo-founding Music Man Mobile Disco in 1977 positioned the business with a 2-month head start to the release of Saturday Night Fever. The technical term for catching the disco wave is dumb luck. A 5-year hiatus from the mobile DJ entertainment business presented a stark comparison to my first go-around. In 1986, the launch of Designer Music Compact Disc DJ presented a mountain of competition in San Francisco.

Doing a good or great job was no longer enough. Actual marketing and relationship building was now mandatory. My self-education in networking began with joining the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Granted, it was not wedding or event-specific, but it offered a wide range of mixers, leads groups, and speakers, among many other services for all sizes of businesses.

Susan RoAne - Author & Keynote Spaker
Susan RoAne – Author & Keynote Spaker

One day, I had the privilege of attending an educational session presented by Susan RoAne, author of How To Work A Room ®. In just a single presentation, Susan addressed a myriad of strategies and techniques for taking the fear out of meeting new people, engaging in conversation, and developing solid follow-up habits to build and maintain relationships.

In a last-minute assignment, as part of the WeddingWire Education Team, I will be giving a short talk, Networking Unplugged, at The City Club of San Francisco, on Monday, August 25thThe City Club is Club Corp managed private venue, in the heart of the financial district; walking distance from the SF Chamber of Commerce.

Over my 11 years in Las Vegas, I have traveled back to the San Francisco more than half-dozen times. The City Club has always been one of my favorite San Francisco venues. The entire setting has something of a homecoming feel, for me.

How To Work A Room ®

2014 is the 25th Anniversary of Susan RoAne‘s definitive book on networkingHow To Work A Room ® (fully revised and updated, I might add). It has been an exciting year for her. I consider Susan one of primary inspirations for my speaking career. Over these 25+ years, she has authored multiple books (including: Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World) and traveled the planet as a Keynote Speaker and Seminar Leader.

WeddingWire Networking Night

WeddingWire150tileThe event wraps a short educational program within a mixer,  featuring complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, courtesy of WeddingWire. The event is from 6-8pm…. (get their early). Did I mention the event is FREE? But please register… I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old industry friends and making new ones.

This event promises to be exceptional. Hope you’ll cancel anything else, and join me at The City Club.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog