BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — Collaborating with others makes good business sense, especially in this time of the coronavirus.
National Exchange Club executive director and CEO Tracey Edwards believes that now more than ever. As business models change to accommodate social distance guidelines, connecting with others is vital.
“It is essential to keep in mind that relationships are always important even though our interactions may be different, and we need to interact in different ways – it is still important,” she said.
Edwards will serve as the keynote speaker at the Maumee Chamber of Commerce monthly Zoom meeting next week.
Essential to chamber memberships are the relationships and interactions that take place at chamber events, which is why the pandemic has been a challenge for many business owners. At the National Exchange Club, which is headquartered in Toledo and comprises more than 600 clubs nationwide, a new approach to business interactions involves taking the social and interactive business model and moving it into the virtual space, Edwards said.
“We’ve seen success in being able to do that,” she said. “It’s interesting because a chamber meeting or a National Exchange Club meeting or any social meeting that you go to, if you think about it, you typically sit down with the same people you associate with and so if you are on a Zoom meeting, people walk away saying that they like that because they get to know different people. They get to know them on a different level and it is good. It expands their small circle and it almost in a way gives you the opportunity to meet and interact with even more people or different people or in a different way than you are used to doing.”
Virtual meetings also provide the opportunity for prospective members to engage, who previously couldn’t before, she said.
“Now, they can make time to be wherever they are – in their home or office or in their car to pull over and get on a Zoom meeting. So if we are really creative about this and thinking about it, it gives us ways to adapt – we need to,” she said.
The National Exchange Club is a 109-year-old service organization with more than 630 clubs and more than 18,000 members throughout the country. Edwards joined the staff of the National Exchange Club in 2004. Prior to her appointment to the position of chief executive officer in January 2012, she served as senior finance director.
Maumee Chamber of Commerce executive director Kristin Meyer said that members would benefit from the information that she provides.
“The chamber is very excited to have Tracey Edwards speak to our group. Our members will get the opportunity to learn how their businesses can collaborate with local nonprofits to make a difference in the community they live and work in. Especially during this pandemic, it is important for businesses to remain connected to the people in the community,” Meyer said.
Edwards, who is a trained Dale Carnegie speaker, is the first female CEO of the nationwide organization. As CEO, she serves as a member of the national board of directors and is the active managing employee of the National Exchange Club. She oversees national headquarters staff in providing professional and technical assistance to the organization in engaging members, delivering education and enhancing the national image of Exchange.
She serves as secretary of the corporation and the NEC Foundation. She is a Berkey Fellow and actively supports the NEC Foundation. Active in her community, Edwards has earned the Distinguished Club President and Exchange Club Member of the Year Awards and works with organizations to promote collaboration between Exchange and other agencies and groups.
She is a past president of the Old Newsboys Goodfel-low Association, an association that upholds a mission and values that align with those of the National Exchange Club; and she was a finalist for the 2015 Toledo-area Jefferson Awards.
Edwards graduated from The University of Toledo and is a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs, the American Society of Association Executives, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Society of Human Resource Manage-ment, Chi Omega sorority, the Toledo Hospital Auxiliary and Leadership Toledo.
“Exchange Clubs are really good at adapting to the environment and we pride ourselves on keeping our model current and relevant for our members. And really, that’s what it’s all about. We’ve taken our main initiative as just galvanizing those relationships, letting people know that we value our members and that we are here to support them,” Edwards said.
The Maumee Chamber of Commerce virtual membership luncheon will take place on Tuesday, August 11 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The event is free and open to both members and nonmembers. For complete login information, please e-mail Kristin@meumeechamber.com.