Five reasons why you should join the local Chamber of Commerce:
Are you generally so busy working “in” your business that you’re unable to work “on” your business? Here are five reasons chamber participation is not a waste of time but rather a true benefit to your business and your life.
This isn’t about networking — this is about gaining friends, associates and even advocates. The people you get to know may or may not do business with you, but the social and emotional return in building meaningful, lasting relationships can be more meaningful than the financial return you seek. As you attend events, serve on committees and interact with people outside your normal routines, you will have the opportunity to interact with all types of people. This in turn will create better relationship building skills that can crossover to improve non-business aspects of your life as well.
The age-old adage applies here — “out of sight, out of mind.” While many companies are looking to be seen in the cyber world and are doing a very good job of it, nothing sells your business better than being in front of people face to face. Business is so much more than simple transactions of money for goods/services with its root in relationships.
You are the business; the business is you. The client is more likely to buy when they know you are the brains behind the operation and have seen you regularly participating in non-transaction-based functions. Chambers provide so many opportunities to spend time with potential friends (read: potential clients) in non-transaction-based functions that you will be top of mind when they or someone they know is looking for your product/services.
Chambers offer a wide-range of advertising options and sponsorship packages. A business can sponsor entire programs or events through a chamber. Beyond the paid advertising options, chambers also have ways to provide additional business promotion for, social media, regular newsletters, map boards, telephone book etc. Amazingly, even some member businesses do not take advantage of the free marketing opportunities provided through monthly newsletters including “member news” sections or flyers from local businesses advertising sales, discounts or special events. (Our chamber even has an ability to provide a free landing page online for your business with any level of membership.)
Chamber is always looking for member-related news to share with the community through our social media. We rarely spend money advertising the chamber as an organization; but on advertising opportunities, or businesses that members can utilise.
Some business owners have expressed the feeling that they do not need the local chamber. One flaw in that thinking is they and their employees are very much a part of the local economy.
Chambers are not-for-profit organizations desired to lift the economy. We work very closely with government to provide a representative business voice when needed. Participating in a chamber provides business with an avenue to express their legislative policy questions directly to the legislatures. Sometimes being a good “corporate citizen” means being the community partner that all the “little guys” expect you to be. If a major player in the local economy isn’t involved in discussions about the local economy, then the conversations (and potentially decisions) are missing a key point of view.
Networking & education
Based on member surveys and ongoing member communication, chambers can provide speakers at events or links to expert articles through emails and newsletters that members specifically request. Council offers continuing education courses in business provided through the chamber. Chamber meetings include business networking nights or general meetings to discuss and present innovative ideas for the community and growing tourism.
Because of these five reasons, and many others, chambers are known to stimulate business-to-business commerce in the local economy. Research shows that a major part of small business typically comes from business-to-business services, so participating in local chambers of commerce as a small (or large) business is an easy way to increase local visibility, build credibility, and expand your contacts.
I must point out the importance of the word participate. Joining a chamber is great. A business receives many benefits visibly and behind the scenes. However, joining only gets you so far. Participating is the true key to receiving the benefits of chamber membership. Only through attending events, talking to members you’ve never met before, serving on committees, and taking advantage of the advertising opportunities presented will your membership become more than another calendar item you will avoid to create time for “more important” or “more urgent” business and truly become the benefit to your business you’ve been searching for. It’s up to you.
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There aren’t many cons – it’s an affordable group that will foster immediate connections and promote your business.
Kim’s reasons for being a member:
- Opportunities for growth (professionally and individually)
- Access to resources (call on other members/experts for advice)
- Community involvement (helps them give back to their area)
- Camaraderie (a place to troubleshoot and cheer each other on)
Jeff’s reasons for being a member:
- Face-to-face interaction leads to stronger relationships
- The Chamber does the leg work in bringing people together
- It’s a powerful referral generator
Brett’s reasons for being a member:
- Having a link from the Chamber’s website is an authoritative reference point for search engine relevancy
- Chamber websites are often very powerful and robust, so a direct linkage tells Google your site is also important by association
- Creating relationships with other Chamber members generates word-of-mouth referrals, which in turn generate internet visibility