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Cigars and Networking—A Natural Pairing

Mike Scott
Posted: March 5, 2013

Business professionals around the country are always looking for an advantage when it comes to finding new business. One of the traditional ways to develop new business opportunities is through the traditional networking event, often hosted by chambers of commerce, business networking groups, communities and more. But the days of the typical networking event are disappearing. And professionals like John Dade of Buena Park, California, are looking for opportunities to “break the ice” at business networking events that differ from their past experiences.

“I don’t golf but I like good cigars and good spirits,” Dade said.

So he, like other business-minded people around the country, are using cigar-themed events as a way to comfortably introduce himself to other professionals. As the founder of the Cigar Night Business Mixer Group in Orange County, Dade utilizes a mailing list of nearly 350 individuals to market monthly cigar business mixers at cigar stores and cigar-friendly restaurants around the area.

Dade is not alone. For nearly a year, the Cigar Chamber of Commerce has organized networking events through a grassroots process that emphasizes social media. Founded and funded by Jay Shapiro and headquartered in Hollywood, Florida, the Cigar Chamber’s first member was Scott Pietreface of Fumatore de Sigaro Cigar Lounge in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The goal of the chamber is simply to create business networking events for cigar smokers and industry professionals and, of course, support cigar industry right. Another main goal is to support local cigar stores and retailers.

“We currently have about 15 members, and our first event was held November 7, 2012 at Florida Cigar Company in Fort Lauderdale,” Shapiro said.  “It was attended by 25 cigar enthusiasts. We have many females now attending the events. I’d even say about 40 percent of our members are females.”

What makes the chamber a popular outlet for business professionals is the shared interests and the desire for good smoke, drink and liberty, Shapiro said. The desire for such benefits creates a virtually instant bond amongst those who attend.

Local cigar bars have been hosting early events. Shapiro works to find a central location and a place which will support the efforts by finding sponsors and sharing appetizers over cigars, he said. “Cigars are provided along with specials such as buy two get one free and other offers,” Shapiro said. “Generally they get one free cigar, a drink and some light appetizers along with cigar specials. Some people do bring their own yet it is somewhat frowned upon. The goal is to also support the local brick-and-mortar store.”

The Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce in suburban Detroit held its first cigar-themed business networking event in late February as part of an ongoing effort to create unique networking events that are designed to increase interest among members and non-members, said executive director Denise Asker.

Another recent networking event held included skeet-shooting at an outdoor trail, Asker said. Such themed events have been established as a way to encourage business networking in an area that has been hit by a poor economy since 2000, but one that has seen fortunes rise in the last couple of years as the automotive market has improved.

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Comments   1 comment(s)

Garth Bugenhagen — Kaukauna, WI, 54130,  —  March 18, 2013 2:10pm ET

We've been doing this for many years now. If there are any of you out there from Northeastern Wisconsin and would like to check out our group, we're at

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