You are busy running a business. So how do you justify spending time participating in chamber meetings and events? Here are a few reasons chamber membership benefits both your personal as well as your business life:
(The following is excerpted with permission from an article by David Larson of the Pleasant Grove Chamber of Commerce as printed in the Daily Herald - because we couldn't have said it better ourselves!)
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.
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 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.
Mr. Larson goes on to say:
Because of these reasons, and 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. It is similar to sitting in a college algebra course for an hour all the while posting to social media. You are no better off than if you didn’t attend. 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.