Picnic setting opens doors for businesses

WESTFIELD-For businesspeople seeking networking opportunities, the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce has just announced a change to its After 5 Connection – offering the gatherings for free.

“Two committees have been discussing this issue for a few months,” said Kate Phelon, the Chamber’s executive director. “Since the Chamber’s executive and membership committees were in agreement, we decided to change our policy of having our After 5 Connections free for everyone.”

Phelon noted that this change is “significant” for several reasons.

“We wanted to be able to show nonmembers that they are welcomed and can network with other businesses without a cost tied to this opportunity,” said Phelon. “We are also hoping this will show nonmembers what a great policy for a Chamber to have and I believe we are trendsetters in this area by doing so.”

Phelon added that when businesses have exposure to Chamber events the encounters can also be a catalyst for new membership.

“For our current members, this is a great opportunity for them to bring business associates, customers and vendors to come and network for free,” said Phelon. “We are very excited and happy to offer this benefit to everyone.”

Kevin O’Connor, Westfield Bank’s executive vice president and chief banking officer, echoed those sentiments.

“Westfield Bank hosts several events for the Chamber and the annual picnic which is always popular is multipurpose,” said O’Connor. “For Westfield Bank, we want to present networking support for Chamber members and nonmembers as well as promote economic development.”

O’Connor added that networking and attending functions including the After 5 Connection introduces business professionals to new businesses in the Greater Westfield area.

“We encourage member-to-member support as well as learning about each other’s businesses,” said O’Connor.

Phelon concurred.

“We want our members to buy from each other and this is one way in which they get to know each other and can build professional relationships,” said Phelon.

Phelon noted that making connections is not always about a sale, that sometimes members and nonmembers can make a connection for other reasons.

“We don’t always know what connections they make, but the Chamber gives them this opportunity that they might not otherwise have,” said Phelon.

Westfield Bank’s Southwick branch will be sponsoring and hosting the next After 5 Connection on June 17 with a casual summer cookout from 5 – 7 p.m. at 462 College Highway. Hamburgers and hot dogs with all of the fixings will be served, as well as salads, chips, onions and peppers. Beer and wine will also be provided.

During the event a host of lawn games will also be featured, from cornhole and giant Connect Four, to Jenga and Kan-Jam.

“We are so appreciative of Westfield Bank’s generosity and hospitality as they put on a great cookout under a huge tent (in the event of rain),” said Phelon.

With a diverse Chamber membership, Phelon is hopeful that members as well as nonmembers take time out of their schedules to enjoy the comfortable, relaxed environment of the picnic setting to network. Also, employees of Chamber members are welcome to attend.

“At these events, we also offer our members an opportunity to have marketing tables and/or use a Member Spotlight opportunity,” said Phelon, adding a business will have its logo promoted on the email invitation, a marketing table and banner, and presentation time. During the cookout, Your CBD Store is the Member Spotlight sponsor.

Persons attending the cookout are asked to RSVP by calling the Chamber office at (413) 568-1618.

For more information on other Chamber events, visit

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