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Chambers plan special gathering

One of the most beneficial things the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors regularly is the Business After Hours program.

Chamber members regularly gather at 5:30 p.m. for about two hours of socializing, winding down and networking.

The next Business After Hours is April 13 at Bishop Clean Care, 234 Cedric St., Leesburg, in an event co-sponsored by the Albany Area Chamber and the Lee County Chamber of Commerce.

This month's "After Hours" features a new speed networking program that the Albany Chamber has initiated.

It's been done once, with just a handful of participants, but the chamber hopes to have 20 people sign up this time.

Meghan Duke, events and outreach coordinator for the Albany Chamber, said the program is comparable to speed dating -- without the romance.

Dates are not the object. The object is building business relationships and gaining business. It's a great way to meet a lot of people in a short period of time without having to seek them out in a crowd.

Here's the scene. Twenty people show up for speed networking. They are seated facing each other at long tables. You get five minutes to talk with the person across from you.

A bell rings after five minutes and you move down the table to a fresh face.

"At the end of the session, each participant has met a lot of new friends, and has a handful of business cards that could turn into new customers or clients," Duke said.

Duke says each speed networking session will have a facilitator to offer advice to the participants and keep the session moving promptly.

Duke offers tips to those wanting to participate including:

n Bring business cards to exchange. Then, write one thing about the person you meet on the business card they provide for you.

n Ask good questions. Ask them to name something interesting that you wouldn't know about them. Find out what they are passionate about or how did they get to where they are in their career.

n Followup if there are things discussed that would benefit from a second conversation.

Duke said the sessions are designed to be relaxed encounters that might lead to future business associations. There is no pressure, she said.

Anyone interested in participating should contact Duke at (229) 434-8700 or mduke@albanyga.com.

MOVIE MAKING: Everyone in Southwest Georgia is familiar with the national success in the movie-making business enjoyed by Sherwood Baptist Church.

"Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof" have put the Albany church on the map.

If copying someone is really the truest form of flattery, then a church in Dothan, Ala. is giving Sherwood a huge compliment.

Calvary Baptist Church in Dothan is now filming its first church-produced movie. They hope to have "Writing Christmas Cool" in movie theaters late this year.

The Alabama church sought help from Sherwood when they began their efforts. And help was provided.