This past November, my fiancé and I attended a graduation and awards dinner honoring the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce Leadership Bellevue Class of 2015. I was part of that class and one of thirteen who received a plaque and certificate of completion for the ten monthly meetings.

I had an idea of what to expect from the program thanks to two of our other Nebraska-based team members who are alumni and had great experiences, but what I received from the program was so much more than expected. Each of our monthly meetings had an overarching theme with several guest speakers, tours and experiences to complement them. The themes ranged from the history of Bellevue and Sarpy County, to economic development, to quality of life, and even a day dedicated to learning more about Offutt Airforce Base, which impacts Bellevue in regards to population and economics. I listened to our state senators present at our capitol building in Lincoln, watched a demonstration at one of Bellevue’s acclaimed fire stations, and learned about the extensive recycling and green efforts going on in the city and surrounding areas (a large part of which is the result of our own Ruth Richter and her dedication and hard work!).

I can cite numerous benefits from the experiences I had while in the program, including:

  • Increased knowledge related to my community’s history, economic development, public safety, local government, education, and the people who are driving change and improvement for Sarpy County
  • Deeper awareness of Bellevue and Sarpy County’s biggest opportunities and challenges, and the factors that impact change around them
  • Greater appreciation for my hometown and county
  • Larger interest in staying up-to-date on community news and events and getting actively involved in areas where I can add value

I grew up in Bellevue and still live in Sarpy County, yet I learned more about my community in those 10 months than I had in my life leading up to then. I have a different appreciation for my community and heightened pride for its longevity and planned growth.

On top of my list of more personal benefits, there were many professional benefits as well, including:

  • Building relationships with my 12 fellow classmates who each came from different organizations and industries including banking, healthcare, community nonprofit, education, city government, military, engineering, and construction
  • Networking opportunities at each meeting through the various local business contacts or officials who presented to our group and organized social networking events
  • Further exposing ConvergenceCoaching and the work that we do to my classmates and acquaintances met during the program, leading to possibilities for referrals in the future
  • Enhancing our company’s goodwill and image in the eyes of Bellevue and surrounding communities

When joining a program like this, you might first think of the personal benefits and not necessarily the professional and intangible ones like these, but it’s a great way to market yourself and your firm’s services. Developing relationships with your local chamber members and community business leaders helps build your brand and exhibit a value of community involvement and pride for the place in which you do business. It also increases your chances for being top of mind when referral opportunities arise. And if the experience was like mine, it will be enlightening and personally beneficial, too.

During my time in the program, I was surprised when I began looking forward to our next meeting and the “insider’s view” that we would get on another important topic in our community. A thank you is owed to my company for supporting my participation in the program and being without me for one day each month while I learned more about my community. A thank you is also owed to the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce and especially VP of Administration, Doris Urwin, who has run this excellent program for so many years.

We know many firms and professionals who consider community involvement and service to be one of their core values. How are you involved with your community? What advice do you have for others who would like to have a bigger voice or role in theirs? Share with us – we’d love to hear!

I encourage you to find an opportunity to learn more about your local community and generate ways that you can add value to your community, personally and professionally.

Kind regards,