As we being a new year, don’ t forget to include your business in your New Year’s Resolution-Making!
Making the Most of Your Chamber Membership
Anyone can join the chamber. But just like a health club membership, you only get out what you put in. If you join a gym, pay your dues, but never show up, at the end of the year, whose fault is it that you did not reach your fitness or health goal? The gym’s owner, the trainers, the staff? Of course not!
Chamber membership is exactly the same way. If you pay your dues, but then never “go” either by getting involved or attending any of the events, you will not attain your business fitness or health goal—the one that compelled you to join in the first place!
Many small business owners may see it as a waste of money. In actuality it is relatively inexpensive depending how you chose to use YOUR membership. It can be long lasting advertising in the form of:
In many "small chambers" a majority of members pay less than $400 per year for membership. That is less than $1 per day, per year—some of us are crazy enough to spend $4 or more per day on a cup of coffee, certainly we can find $1 each day to invest in the success of our business! Where else can you get access to so many qualified business leads and contacts right in your own community for less than $1 each, have 24/7/365 presence for your business included, and get referrals on a regular basis, in addition to a number of other benefits of your membership?
If you truly want to become involved, I suggest you join a Chamber committee. Committees need your input and expertise! You probably talk to one hundred business owners and residential customers per week. Five hundred per month. They know you, they trust you and they generally speak their mind to you. When these associates, business customers and business people talk to politicians, it’s a more tactful type conversation. When they talk to Chamber of Commerce staff, they tend to also choose their words more carefully. When they talk to you, it is more point blank, to the point, blunt and the reality of the way they feel. You will never get a sugar coated answer to a small business dilemma from an actual owner. They will tell you how they feel. Whether they are happy or mad as hell about an issue. You also are the eyes and ears of the community with its residents
How do you join a committee? Talk to the chamber staff. Tell them you want to volunteer. Find out which chamber committees are available. Some have year-round commitments; some have short-term commitments, such as for specific events. Join a committee that interests you and that you will be able to make some time for. Don’t join one you don’t care about. Just like in school, you always got better grades in the classes you enjoyed, didn’t you?
Are you taking advantage of the opportunities a Grand Opening presents? When you read/hear/see that a new business is opening or has held a grand opening ribbon cutting event, you should visit the business:
You should attend meetings and events sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.
As many as you can. Enough that you don’t need to wear a name tag because everyone already knows you. You still should wear a name tag. After all, there is bound to be a new face popping up every once in a while. Many of these new members may feel intimidated and you can help them and really make a new friend and business associate creating team work, co-marketing efforts and sharing of customer lists with non-competing businesses. Bring lots of business cards, and make commitment to yourself to attain at least 2 new solid business contacts that you will follow up within the next week.
Letters To The Editor
You should rifle off at least one letter a month to the local paper praising a small business that you have recently visited, the Chamber of Commerce or how happy you are to have a business here. This is free publicity for you as well as the person you are writing about—and we can all agree that there is never enough “positive” news in the media.
Your success in your business is up to you, we live in the greatest country in the world. You are allowed to have unlimited success, but with that incredible gift you are also allowed to fail. The ball is in your court, your chamber membership can be one of your greatest assets, but you only get out what you put in. Stay involved, do not ever give up and use your chamber to help you win. Your Chamber Membership is your business’s Health and Fitness Club—be sure that you are taking your business to the gym regularly so that it can get the exercise it needs to remain healthy!