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Roundtables foster relationships, strengthen business

By Laurie Silvey, Assoc. VP of Business Services, Illinois Chamber of Commerce

In today’s age, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to learn, network and develop our professional careers. More times than not, learning is in the classroom format being presented to just like we are back in college. Don’t get us wrong, this format has a time and place and can be very beneficial. But as a working professional sometimes the best learning can come from your peers. That is why we developed roundtables for HR and business professionals.

A roundtable is defined as a form of academic discussion. Participants agree on a specific topic to discuss and debate. Each person is given equal opportunity to participate, as illustrated by the idea of a circular layout referred to in the term roundtable. Sounds a little dry when it’s put like that, especially when you think that they can be energetic, helpful and very powerful opportunities.

Roundtables assemble smart and sharp professionals to share their knowledge and help each other improve efficiency.  Meeting with the same group each time fosters strong relationships. The roundtables become very productive and enjoyable; they are not just social gatherings, but an effort for everybody to get their questions answered.

These gatherings provide benefits both for the participants and their companies.

For the attendees, membership in a roundtable can become their most valuable source of working information. The groups are kept reasonably small, and the participants share comparable job functions, so the communications are relaxed, honest and objective.  Discussions can provide valuable insights into the state of employment law and can be used for a variety of purposes by participants.

Since the gatherings are comprised of peers, the members are more comfortable speaking up, sharing their opinions, offering suggestions and comments. They can feel free to be themselves. When the group reaches this point, with the help of the moderator, the members can learn from each other.  One person asks a question, and others offer their real-life experiences and solutions to the problem. Brainstorming is a valuable way to develop a process or policy, and this type of format opens the door wide open to solve issues for each other.

For the businesses who employ the attendees, a roundtable provides a relatively inexpensive way to educate their staff. The participants are learning from other companies’ employees who have had these same issues and bringing back ways to fix them. They will bring back a multitude of ideas and share them with colleagues.

Roundtables provide a framework for sharing ideas and experiences with the guidance of a facilitator. They support professional development and effective education. They give professionals an opportunity to develop management and become more communication savvy. People gathering together to share their ideas, policies and processes adds efficiency to the workforce, which makes for better business.

For more information on the Illinois Chamber of Commerce virtual or in-person roundtables, call Laurie Silvey at (217) 522-5512 ext 223 or lsilvey@ilchamber.org.

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