Has there ever been a time in your career where you’ve stopped and realized that you are so busy working “in” your business that you might have forgotten to work “on” your business? As hard as it may be to fathom spending time away from the office, investing in a membership with a local chamber of commerce is one of the smartest business moves you can make.
I know it feels like business costs are on the rise and it can be hard to justify the time and cost of a chamber membership, but making connections and maintaining a network are imperative to growing your business — an important purpose your local chamber serves. Increased visibility in the community, the chance to build business credibility and access to business education opportunities are just a small fraction of the benefits you’ll likely enjoy as a chamber member.
Still not sure a membership is a smart investment? Here are a few great reasons why joining a chamber of commerce can help you invest in your business.
No matter your industry, as part of a chamber, you will likely be surrounded by business-minded individuals, which can play an important role in business growth. However, even more important is the opportunity you’ll have to build and foster relationships. Chambers aren’t only about networking, they also have the potential to be resources and provide opportunities to gain associates, advocates and friends. Even if those associates may not end up doing business with you, you are building meaningful and lasting relationships that can be far more beneficial than any financial gain you seek.
As a nonprofit organization, a chamber desires to lift the economy. Your local chamber is in your corner, providing you access to its committees or counsels dedicated to economic and government issues and legislation affecting the business community. A chamber takes on the tough issues and often opposes new regulations, taxes, fees, assessments and costs directed at the local business community. Working closely with the local government, a chamber’s involvement helps protect the principles of free enterprise and aid in the fair treatment of businesses in your region.
Education and Training
A chamber is one of the best resources for low-cost education and training for you and your employees. It provides business owners with resources to improve professional skills — whether you are just starting out or are a seasoned professional. Depending on the size of your local chamber, there are opportunities to attend conferences, monthly or quarterly seminars, trainings and more. For smaller (or large) businesses that cannot afford the travel expenses for large conferences or seminars, the chamber is a great way to bridge the gap.
As a chamber member, you will have many opportunities to get your name out in the community and to promote your business — newsletters, e-blasts, social media, ribbon cuttings and events — just to name a few. All of these channels increase visibility, and let the community know you are a member, which in turn creates credibility for your business. Chambers often have committees and serving on one of them can benefit you as a networking opportunity; you can also gain new professional development skills. You will be able to build your business while investing in your local chamber, which can lead to a higher profile in the community — a win-win-win. Potential clients and customers are actively out in the community looking for a resource or business they can trust, and research has shown people are more likely to use the products and services of chamber members versus non-chamber members.
A chamber membership can also provide access to smaller but still important resources. Depending on the size and access of your local chamber, these resources can include anything from the use of various conference rooms and member discounts in the community, to access to member directory information, promotional prices on chamber-hosted events and seminars, and more. Smaller or newer businesses may find these resources especially helpful because they require little to no financial commitment.
These are just a few of the many ways a chamber of commerce can serve you, your business and the business community. But remember, just being a member isn’t enough — paying your annual dues and expecting to reap the benefits isn’t the best way to maximize your membership. Investment is the key word. Simply put, what you get out of a chamber membership is directly relative to what you put in. Only through actively showing up at events, meeting with other members or serving on committees, can you enjoy the benefits of working “on” your business.