Making the Most of Your Membership in the Chamber of Commerce

If you are the typical small business person one of the first things you did was join your local Chamber of Commerce as you were about to open your doors or soon after. Your thought was "If I build it (supply it, provide it, sell it), they will come." After visiting the Chamber meeting several times (at least twice), you were unimpressed, in fact down right discouraged, because chamber members and others in your community did not flock to you. Before long you are convinced that it was a waste of time and money and vow never to renew.

Perhaps you miss understood the purpose of the Chamber of Commerce and developed unrealistic expectations. Perhaps a closer look at the purposes of the Chamber and the reason they exist.

Get Connected - The Chamber sponsors activities that allow member to meet other business people in the community, to meet prospective customers, and build relationships with influential people in the community. Sounds like networking, the emphasis on "working". Not all businesses attend all events you have to learn to observe who is attending what event. You should schedule meetings, outside of Chamber events, with your targets to learn about their business and how they see that you might be of assistance to them. Most long term member will not switch allegiances from a trusted supplier until they have developed a relationship, over time, with someone new.

It is very interesting to observe the up tick in businesses attending the Chamber of Commerce in January, then the slow but inevitable decline in the spring, the all time lows of the summer months and the slight up tick in the fall. Most businesses do not make Chamber a priority and other members recognize the lack of commitment.

Be Heard - The Chamber is an inexpensive way to bring your business a step up the ladder of success by providing you with the networking and marketing opportunities your business needs. You as a Chamber member can utilize these marketing opportunities to meet other business owners land consumers like yourself. The Chamber provides the ways to help you build trust and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Most Chambers will announce your business special, perform ribbon cuttings at your place of business, allow you to host Chamber events at your location and distribute your cards of brochures from the Chamber office.

Some Chambers engage past political leaders as their Presidents or Chief Executive Officers. These leaders tend to be connected and know who's who, where to go with an issue that affects a single business or a category of business. These Chambers tend to work very closely with mayors, city councils, police and fire departments and keep Chamber members informed of the current issues. If you see a dynamic Chamber, you will find a connected leader.

Other Benefits - The general public see Chamber membership as adding credibility to businesses, having passed a review before being accepted into membership. In addition, many times there are discounts offered to members of the Chamber for services from other members, the inclusion in local trade shows or expos, and jubilees. Many Chambers team with local radio, newspapers and journals offering great opportunities for advertising at extremely discounted rates.