Turn your chamber membership into a partnership
Have you ever recognized you are generally so busy working “in” your business that you’re unable to work “on” your business? So why you should you join your local chamber of commerce when the chamber might mean more time away from the office? I’d like to share with you six reasons chamber participation is not a fruitless burden on 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/service.
The Chamber offers a wide-range of advertising options and sponsorship packages. A business can sponsor entire programs or events through the chamber. Beyond the paid advertising options, chambers also have ways to provide additional business promotion for free through monthly and annual awards, social media, regular newsletters and even printed materials. Amazingly, even some member businesses do not take advantage of the free marketing opportunities provided through chambers of commerce.
- Community connection
Some business leaders in large companies have expressed the feeling they’re too big or not local enough to need local chambers of commerce. One flaw in that thinking is they and their employees are very much a part of the local economy, regardless of the number of franchise locations they have in other states.
Chambers are not-for-profit organizations desired with a mission to lift the economy. The Chamber works very closely with governments to provide a representative business voice when needed. Participating in the 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.
- Programs and events
Membership in the chamber of commerce provides access to all of the programs and events. Chamber events include business training, networking events, awards events, city celebration events and many others. All of these events are designed to build your business in some fashion, whether through training, promotion, networking or community service.
Research shows that a major part of small business typically comes from business-to-business services, so participating in the local chamber of commerce as a small is an easy way to increase local visibility, build credibility, and expand your contacts.
It’s importance to 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 a partnership.