6 Little-Known Chamber of Commerce Member Myths & Facts

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In the early stages of my business, I came to realize that a steady stream of new prospects was a requirement for business success. By extension, I accepted the need to network. As I researched the most effective networking organizations, I quickly recognized the Chamber of Commerce as an ideal business-building vehicle.

Not only was it the largest networking group in the region, but I could attend a number of events in a month and meet different people. Quite frankly, at this point in my business evolution, I wasn’t thinking any further than this. After over 15 years of involvement, here are some insights that may be helpful to you.

FACT: History – default business network.  The Chamber of Commerce (and its sister organization, Board of Trade) concept has been in place for hundreds of years. Its original purpose was as a “local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses”, advocating on behalf of members in a multitude of areas.

It is recognized as the most respected business network in any community. In fact, in many smaller towns and cities, the Chamber of Commerce is the default business network, and joining the Chamber is a required step for every new business. More often than not, it is the largest business network in a region or community.

As a Chamber of Commerce member, you instantly leverage its years of organizational credibility, integrity and respect. A Chamber of Commerce membership carries with it instant credibility as a business person. You are immediately perceived as more professional and competent.

FACT: Opportunity – access to pre-qualified market sectors.  The Chamber of Commerce acts as a magnet for business. Its varied membership allows access to a number of markets with one investment. Because it appeals to such a broad base of businesses, it offers an almost unlimited basket of prospects over a longer period of time.

The Chamber of Commerce’s multi-pronged approach to supporting business means that you will naturally have more options to connect with other business owners or corporate professionals. Because it spans the entire spectrum of business involvement, it automatically creates additional opportunities to showcase or promote the talents, skills or value you have to offer.

One of the negative issues with more concentrated referral groups is that as your business grows, you can lose relevance. One of the Chamber’s most important benefits is that it can act as a marketing vehicle over a longer period of time as your business evolves and grows, leveraging your personal and professional credibility to new prospects and expanded market segments.

FACT: Member breakdown.  The Chamber of Commerce is, by its nature, a community of small business owners. In fact, the majority of Chamber of Commerce members are consistently in the small business category (less than 20 employees). This means that if you want to do business with this demographic, the smartest thing you can do is become a member and leverage its power and potential.

Even though small business makes up the majority of members, every Chamber has a nucleus of larger companies that see benefit of Chamber membership. There could be any number of reasons for this: being part of the Chamber’s advocacy role, targeting small business or good corporate citizenship.

The key point to remember here is that Chamber of Commerce membership can be used to target selected larger companies that are part of, or associated with, the Chamber’s membership or mandate. In fact, the Chamber can offer incredible opportunities for building relationships with these bigger member-companies.

MYTH: Beware the sense of entitlement. One of the most common mistakes made by business owners or professionals is to presume that Chamber of Commerce membership equals results. Too often, the decision to join is made with the mistaken assumption that the registration fee will automatically make the phone ring, cause others to beat a path to your door and make the cash register ring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Chamber of Commerce represents a wealth of options and opportunities. Joining the Chamber is the first step; it’s the price of admission. Without your willingness and commitment to become involved, the investment will be wasted. Membership carries with it the requirement to participate, allowing others to become aware of the value your represent and the benefits your products or service provide.

MYTH: instant clients and referrals. One of the fastest ways to destroy personal and professional credibility is to presume that your Chamber of Commerce membership includes an automatic gateway to clients and referrals.

Some new members misconstrue that others will buy from them or refer them to their clients, simply because of the Chamber connection. There’s a huge gap between professional courtesy and permission to buy. Remember this as you connect with other Chamber members.

MYTH: Membership buys personal credibility. Your Chamber of Commerce membership pre-supposes both professionalism and integrity but, like an introduction, it buys you short-term credibility. There is no question that you will be well-received by other Chamber of Commerce members when you approach or contact them, but the rules of business still apply.

We buy from people we know, like and trust. We refer professionals we know have value. Building relationships is still the single most effective business-building strategy. The Chamber of Commerce provides environment and opportunity. You must prove your worth, one conversation, one member and one relationship at a time.

Do you want more info an how to better leverage your Chamber of Commerce membership? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com with “Chamber” in the subject line to receive a complimentary copy of my Ultimate Chamber of Commerce Member’s Success Guide ebook.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him or have him speak at your next conference or meeting, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com.




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