Networking is an important component of business. Each time a person meets someone outside of his or her immediate circle, there is an opportunity to talk business.

That is the purpose of the Greater New Milford Chamber of Commerce's monthly Business Scene.

"It's a great networking event for local people to meet new faces and build and cultivate new relationships," Richard Herrington, a member of the Chamber's board of directors, said.

The popularity of the event has blossomed in recent months and years, so much so that the Chamber has decided to offer its members a new option -- multi-sponsorships.

The first multi-sponsored Business Scene will be held Sept. 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Candlelight Farms, 214 Candlewood Mountain Road in New Milford.

"We'll try to show other businesses that [co-sponsoring] is not taking away from [a single sponsor] being in the spotlight, but that we can work to complement each other," said Mr. Herrington, vice president of Nicholas/Tobin Insurance, one of the businesses co-sponsoring September's event.

"We're going to work together to make this the most fun, exciting and unique Business Scene to date," he said.

Other sponsors are Bonni Manning Catering, The Bridge: Fine Wine, Spirits & Beer and Candlelight Farms.

Mr. Herrington said the combined support of four sponsors will allow for a "more elaborate" Business Scene than those in the past, with all the sponsors "bringing in their level of expertise."

The local Chamber of Commerce is fairly new to Bonni Manning. She said her business became a member after she heard positive feedback from Nancy Saggese of Candlelight Farms about the "great networking opportunities open to Chamber members."

Ms. Manning said she was a little surprised that many of the guests she has met while catering events at Candlelight Farms had previously never heard of the farm.

As a result, teaming up with other businesses to hold a Business Scene at Candlelight Farms seemed like a great way to "reintroduce people to this incredible venue," she said.

"In these times of hardships it occurred to me that there's no one we should rely on more than our neighbors, which is why I decided to get involved with the Chamber of Commerce," Ms. Manning said.

"Multiple sponsors allows for a greater breadth of choice and with more sponsors -- more exposure, more choices, giving every sponsor better abilities to provide a higher quality product," she explained.

Mr. Herrington said the Chamber hopes that the multi-sponsorship format of the September Business Scene will serve as a model for other businesses that may want to become a sponsor, but have not yet had an opportunity to do so.

A business must be a Chamber member in order to sponsor a Business Scene.

In the past, one business has sponsored the monthly event, usually at a local restaurant. Sponsors such as The First National Bank of Litchfield and Scott's Landscaping have hosted the event at their business.

However, as Chamber membership has increased and Business Scene sponsorship interest has grown, there is now a waiting list of sponsors. Because the scene is a monthly event, there are limited chances for a single business to be the sole sponsor.

In addition, the number of Chamber-member restaurants that are large enough to accommodate the average 75- to 100-person Business Scene attendance is limited, thus many restaurants will not have an opportunity to showcase their food.

"It is difficult to get a spot" to sponsor a Business Scene, Ms. Saggese said.

So when the pieces of the puzzle fell together and Nicholas/Tobin "welcomed the idea" of a shared Business Scene, Candlelight Farms didn't want to miss the opportunity to participate.

Mr. Herrington said the Taste of New Milford, which was held Sept. 9 on the Village Green, is an example of Business Scene growth (see photos).

The event started as a Business Scene three years ago, with local restaurants serving samples of their foods.

It was such a success that it outgrew its status as a Business Scene last year, with more than 1,000 people in attendance.

This year, the Taste of New Milford was offered as a separate Chamber event and drew approximately 800 people.

Bill Babbino, Chamber president, emphasized that the move toward multi-sponsored Business Scenes takes the monthly event to a new level.

"With multiple sponsors, you expand" the networking opportunities because each sponsor is drawing particular people to the event, he explained.

"It works out great," he said, "you never know who you're going to bump into."