Some business owners say their hectic schedule is demanding enough at the moment, so why think about joining a chamber of commerce and adding one more activity to an already unbearably busy calendar?
Well if that is the case, tell me why so many companies rush to become members of their local chamber of commerce, when that membership would mean more time away from the office? I’ll tell you; it’s because membership in the local chamber offers numerous benefits and keeps business owners on top of important, ever-changing issues and trends within their community.
Research points out that consumers are more likely to do business with a company if that company is a member of their local chamber of commerce.
According to a research study by the Shapiro Group Inc. and Market Street Services, when consumers know that a small business is a member of their local chamber, they are 44 percent more likely to think favorably of it and 63 percent more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future. You can increase positive perception among consumers and business owners when you are identified as member of a chamber of commerce.
If a consumer knows a small business is a member of its local chamber, the business enjoys a 44 percent increase in its consumer favorability rating, a 51 percent increase in consumer awareness, a 57 percent increase in its local reputation and a 62 percent increase in the likelihood that consumers will patronize the business in the future.
If you still don’t think you have time to join, consider this: small business represents the largest segment by number of the most local chamber membership rolls. It takes time for a business to establish its image and reputation in a community. The more a company can network with its community and other business leaders, the quicker and easier it is to establish a trust bond with potential customers.
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 just 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 cross over 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 and services with its root in relationships.
You are the business; the business is you.
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.
4. 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 to lift the economy. They work very closely with governments to provide a representative business voice when needed. Participating in a chamber provides business with an avenue to express their legislative policy questions directly to the legislatures.
5. Ongoing training and education
For companies that do not have a large training budget, getting to national conferences or bringing in experts is out of the question. Chambers provide an inexpensive way to bridge the gap between no training and topic-expert training. There may not be better organizations at providing relevant speakers and guest trainers in a timely manner than your local chamber of commerce.
6. Programs and events
Membership in a chamber of commerce provides access to all of their programs and events, which are many. As a chamber director, sometimes I feel like all I’m doing is event planning. The chamber committees present a huge variety of educational programs, timely community issues, networking, specific events, awards banquets, golf tournaments, leadership programs, celebrations, major events and many other activities with the specific purpose of meeting the needs of the service area each chamber is responsible to.
I must point out the importance of the word participate. Joining a chamber is great. A business receives many benefits, both 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. Your chamber membership can truly become the benefit to your business you’ve been searching for.
It’s up to you.