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CHAPTER 12 NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES 12.1 Business, Civic, and Non-Profit Networking Opportunities 12.2 Networking with Professional and Industry Organizations 12.3 Tradeshows and Conferences 12.4 Strategic Partnerships 12.5 Lobbying 12.6 Contact Managers and Networking Tools Small airports that are the most effective at marketing do so through on-going networking efforts. Managers of these airports are always meeting with business leaders, community groups, news people, public officials, air- lines, tenants and potential tenants, developers, industry groups, and a host of other individuals and organiza- tions. Through this relentless networking, these airport managers succeed in getting out their message and building lasting relationships with stakeholders and advocates of the airport. Much of this networking is either free or low cost. As such, the importance of networking cannot be overstated. What is networking? It is the art of building alliances and important relationships overtime through various means. We have identified six major networking groups important to airport managers. They are business, civic, and non-profit groups; professional organizations; tradeshows and conferences; strategic partnerships; lobby- ing; and contact managers and other networking venues. 12.1 BUSINESS, CIVIC, AND NON-PROFIT NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES Effectiveness Cost Commercial Service General Aviation $ Definition: Airports build relationships with business, civic, and non-profit groups because these group reach across the community, representing organizations that have a vested interest in the airport's long-term vitality; they are often champions, volunteers, marketers, and partners of the airport. Business, civic, and non-profit networking groups are found in almost all communities, regardless of their size. Not all of these specific organizations may be represented in all communities, but most towns will have some combination of the following: Chambers of commerce Economic development organizations Community service groups, such as Rotary, Elks, Masons, Kiwanis Universities, colleges, and aviation education Youth programs (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Young Eagles) 119

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120 Marketing Guidebook for Small Airports Some of these organizations have been described in other contexts. For example, airports may sponsor youth programs, and they may use those same programs to help them network with civic leaders and increase the number of airport supporters in the community. To successfully fulfill their roles, small airports need to market effectively to the local community. Reasons to use networking include the following: To continuously remind the community of the airport's value and role in the economic activity of the community. To create good will that makes it easier to resolve difficult airport-community issues. To build lasting relationships with organizations that have a vested interest in the airport's long-term vitality. To recruit champions, volunteers, marketers, and partners of the airport. To educate and excite the "next generation" of airport leaders and champions. 12.1.1 CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Most communities in the United States have a chamber of commerce. Its purpose is to create a strong local economy, promote the community, provide a variety of business networking opportunities, and interface with government on behalf of business. The range of specific networking activities available through the chamber of commerce varies by community. Some regular events that airport managers can take advantage of include the following: Ribbon cutting and grand opening celebrations Membership appreciation breakfasts Business After Hours socials Various volunteer committees Chamber of commerce board of directors meetings Business classes and training programs Advocacy workshops and presentations Annual dues are collected by the chamber of commerce entitling its members to these networking opportuni- ties, with dues varying by entity. 12.1.2 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS Economic development organizations can be found at the national, regional, state, and local level, each with its own particular set of goals and objectives. In this chapter, the emphasis is on local organizations where the focus is on recruitment, expansion, and retention of business (and jobs) in the community. In cases where a community does not have a separate economic development organization, these activities are often handled by the chamber of commerce. Many airport managers effectively use their local economic development organization to recruit and attract enterprises that could locate on the airport or in an adjacent industrial park.

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Networking Opportunities 121 12.1.3 COMMUNITY SERVICE GROUPS Community service groups such as the Rotary club, Elks, Masons, and Kiwanis are active in most communi- ties. These groups bring together business and professional leaders for community service. The list of projects that these groups undertake is as diverse as it is long. Rotary describes networking as one of the principal benefits of membership: "an original goal of Rotary was to allow club members to meet periodically and enlarge their circle of business and professional acquaintances. As members of the oldest service club in the world, Rotarians represent a cross-section of their community's business owners, executives, managers, political leaders, and professionals--people who make decisions and influence policy." Specific details about each of these organizations can be found on their respective websites. 12.1.4 UNIVERSITIES, COLLEGES, AND AVIATION TRAINING PROGRAMS Many communities have a local college or university that offers training for careers in aviation. Establishing relationships with these institutions, their administration, faculty, and student body yield many mutual benefits: 1. Internship programs provide students with vital training and airports with important resources to get work done. 2. Faculty have the knowledge and expertise to guide students in important work for the airport such as economic impact studies, marketing plans, and website and graphics design. 3. University administrators and tenured faculty members have extensive networks of their own that air- port managers can tap. 4. Student organizations are a good volunteer source for community events such as an airport open house. 12.1.5 YOUTH PROGRAMS Youth programs, such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Young Eagles, also provide many mutual benefits: 1. Involvement with youth programs is a way for airports to engage in the community and get the next generation passionate about aviation. 2. Youth programs are also a great source for volunteer help for airport events. For example, Boy Scouts are required to complete a certain number of community service hours to advance in rank and are always looking for opportunities to serve. 12.1.6 IDEAS FOR NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES Host a chamber of commerce event at the airport. Establish a regular monthly meeting with the local economic development organization to review air- port tenant prospects. Arrange an airport tour for the local Boys Scout or Girl Scout troop. Set up a marketing intern program between the local college and the airport. Attend a chamber After Hours event or participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony.