Not every Chamber has all of the benefits that I will discuss in this article. I suggest that you check with your local Chamber and if they are not offering a benefit in which you are interested, volunteer to help them set up that benefit.
Membership gives you a forum where you can meet other members and share your products or services. This includes but may not be limited to:
Business After/Before Hours – This is the most common networking event with a Chamber. If the hours are not convenient for you, then please contact your Chamber about offering different times. For example, if you are in retail, morning hours may be better for you.
Business/Technology Expos – Usually offered once a year and give you the opportunity to showcase your business. In some instances, you can actually sell your products at the expo. As a Chamber member, you are offered a space at a price that is much lower than a non-member.
Ribbon Cutting/Grand Opening – This is a great way to meet and greet other businesses in your community. Keep in mind that every person you meet knows 250 other people and may be able to introduce you to other people who can use your product or services. Remember, always follow-up with a “congrats” card or note to the business. You could also hold a Ribbon Cutting at your business if you are celebrating a special anniversary, moved to a new location, or added a new product line.
Speed Networking – Polish up your 60-second elevator speech and get ready to network at the speed of light. Your quick intro to your business should always inspire the question “How do you do that?” Then, you will follow-up with the businesses at the event that may have a use for your product/service.
Business Referral Groups – Get involved in a professional lunch or networking group. Many lunch groups combine networking with a lunch-‘n-learn. If your Chamber does not offer this opportunity, you may want to start a group and then contact your Chamber for support. If lunch is not a good time for you, start a breakfast group. You don’t have to meet every week, twice a month is a good option.
Annual Meeting/Gala – This is a place to build relationships with others in the Chamber and get to know them on a personal level.
Chamber Orientation Meetings – These are usually geared to new members and will go over the Chamber benefits. However, anyone can attend and have the opportunity to meet new businesses in your community.
People call the Chamber to find where to go to for all types of products and services. Make sure that you are taking advantage of these lists.
New Member Announcements – These are usually posted in a monthly newsletter. This is a great opportunity to stop in and see the new member or send them a welcome card. Invite them to meet you at the next networking event. This will help both of you to break the ice and really utilize these events. Remember – a few of the 250 people they know may be at the event and they can introduce you to their contacts and vice versa.
Website Listings – Most Chambers offer multiple listings on their website based on category. Make sure that you are taking full advantage of these listings. People are using these websites to find you.
Membership Directories – These are usually published annually. Make sure you are in the directory and listed in the correct category. These directories are given to new members and those who inquire at the Chamber.
Member Lists – Often, there is a charge for this list. The list usually comes in a spreadsheet format and contains a contact name, address and phone numbers. Usually an email address is not provided because of spam laws. If you are using a contact management program, you can upload the list into your contact manager, and then as you make contact with the members via networking or personal calls, you can update the information with email address and send an opt-in email. This will show that you are a professional and are not spamming them with unwanted information.
Hospitality Guides/Local Maps – This is a way to promote your business outside the local area. A Chamber member receives a discount rate to be listed.
Chambers offer a multitude of ways to get the word out about your business. This is often a benefit that members are unaware of or are underutilizing.
Press Releases – Many Chambers will do the release for you. If this is not a benefit the Chamber offers, they can provide you with the media contacts that you can use to submit your own press releases.
Announcements on Chamber Blog – You can promote upcoming events, special offers or promotions, new hires, etc. With the popularity of blogs, this is becoming a great option for Chambers to spotlight businesses.
Chamber Newsletter – This is usually published monthly or quarterly for smaller Chambers. It’s a great place to advertise your business for a fraction of regular newspaper advertising. Be sure to submit articles that would be of interest to all members. There is no guarantee that your article will be published, but you never know!
New Resident/Business Welcome Bags – These are often distributed by real estate agents who are members of the Chamber. Put information in the bag about your business – use the type of bag that best fits your target audience.
The biggest advantage of being part of a Chamber is having a connection with several hundred potential customers/clients. These are a few of the ways to tap into that prospect pool:
Member Discounts – Chamber will promote these discounts for you.
Gift Certificates – Some Chambers sell gift certificates that can be used at any participating member’s place of business. This list is supplied when someone purchases a gift certificate from the Chamber.
Sponsorship Opportunities – Look for special events during the year that give you an opportunity to sponsor the event and promote your business.
Membership Plaque – Make sure this is displayed and people know you are a member. This provides additional credibility because people know you are involved in the community.
Expo by Mail – These are mailings done on a periodic basis to the members that highlight 10 – 20 member businesses. There is usually a charge to be in this mailing; however, it can be a great way to reach members with your message.
Many Chambers are getting involved in social media and this is a great opportunity to connect with other Chamber members and get involved with others in the community.
Facebook/LinkedIn – Check for groups or pages your Chamber has established.
Local Media Sites – if you are in a resort area or a vacation destination, Chambers will often create an events website. Members of the Chamber can submit events to the site. This is just one more avenue to let the public know about special events you may be having at your business.
You can save thousands of dollars on education by taking advantage of education opportunities the Chamber offers. Think about bringing along a client who would be interested in the topic presented. How about contacting the Chamber with a topic in which you are an expert and could share your ideas in an educational format.
Keep up with what is going on in the community – Often the seminars are about legislation that will affect your business.
Provide education seminars for the Chamber – This is your opportunity to sow lots of seeds and show other Chamber members that you are knowledgeable in a specific area. The Chamber will often let members use their facility to do a seminar even if it is not directly sponsored by the Chamber.
Specific topics that help you grow your business – These topics could be “How-To” seminars on QuickBooks, Excel, etc. Or, they could be general topics such as Internet Marketing. These seminars are offered at a fraction of the cost of taking a class through a local college or over the internet.
Being a volunteer is a great way to get to know Chamber members.
Ambassador program – An ambassador promotes the image and values of the Chamber by making personal visits or phone calls to Chamber members. Ambassadors help to improve Chamber membership and retention. This is your opportunity to call on a member and receive a warm reception. Once you have talked to them about the Chamber, you have the opportunity tell them a little about your business. As you see them at future Chamber events, you begin to build a relationship that will result in future egzotyka.
Join a Chamber committee – There are a variety of committees within each Chamber. Find one that is of interest to you and get involved. Serve first, and you will reap benefits.
Volunteer at special events – These are usually short-term commitments and give you the opportunity to work side-by-side with Chamber members.
Purchasing Co-ops – You can take advantage of a bulk discount. An example is BusinessTrainingTeam.com which provides training to businesses for a monthly subscription fee. Many Chambers have joined us as an affiliate and offer a discount to the site. Contact your Chamber for a discount code.
Health Benefits – Group policies that would normally not be available to small businesses or professional sales people are available to members.
Chamber Information Centers – The physical location of the Chamber can be a place for you to display your brochures or flyers to visitors of the Chamber.
Although we cannot put a price on these benefits for your specific geographic area, these benefits taken in tandem more than outweigh the price of your annual dues:
- Website Listings
- Discount Advertising Opportunities
- Table-Top Expos
- Press Releases
- Member Discounts
- Education Opportunities
- Group Benefits
Follow-up is the key to success!
These are just a few ideas for making sure the seeds you sow are given every chance to grow, as you get involved with your Chamber.
Email signature – when you follow up with Chamber members, make sure your email signature indicates that you are a member of the Chamber. This gives you one more point of connection with your prospect.
Post Cards – Have a supply of post cards on hand with your company logo or simply a “Nice To Meet You” on the front. Then, when you meet someone, you can quickly drop a personal note in the mail as a follow-up to the meeting.