In our Wednesday #ChamberChallenges feature on LinkedIn, one of our challenges to chamber of commerce members that pops up from time-to-time is to introduce a fellow business to your chamber reps. Since some of the weekly challenges involve things like “retweet one of your chamber’s posts” or “check to make sure your directory listing is up-to-date,” this may seem like one of the more difficult ones to pull off.
I assure you, the opposite is true.
In fact, introducing a new business to your chamber of commerce is one of the best win-win-win scenarios you can create. Let’s break down why:
- Your chamber, which we presume you champion because you’re a member that receives great value, gets an introduction and the opportunity to tell the story of what they do, with a current, satisfied member vouching for the value they provide.
- Your fellow business gets access to services, programs and a network that will help them grow – resources that, right now especially, are tremendously relevant.
- By putting them together, you’ve put yourself at the center of a relationship that hopefully will yield results for years to come.
If you introduce a company to the chamber who becomes a member, let’s just say you’ve changed your status in the eyes of the chamber’s team. It can’t be avoided. Business organizations are filled with companies that offer a wide array of value sets to help their causes. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more important than helping to bring in revenue. You make a referral that turns into a new member… You’ve shown yourself as a valuable asset – something that’s remembered when speaking roles, sponsorship opportunities and referrals are doled out.
Now, sometimes people don’t like that… The whole “pay to play” thing. And we can all sit around and talk about the importance of “giving back.” But like your business, a chamber of commerce that doesn’t bring in revenue goes out of business.
So, how do you introduce a company to your chamber in a meaningful way? Well, in the chamber world we love our kitschy acronyms, so here we go:
Can we say we’d like to PHEED new members to your chamber? Is that horrible?
Permission – Nobody likes a blind introduction, especially if it’s kicking off a sales process. Ultimately, the chamber will want them to join, so make sure that (1) they know that ahead of time and (2) they’re good with you making the connection.
Hand-off – After you’ve let both the company and the chamber know that you’re making a connection, send an e-mail to both with the introduction. Give a brief overview of the person/company and, if you can, tip off how the chamber can be helpful to them. For the benefit of the company, mention your past work with the chamber and the rep, and how you see this being a fruitful relationship. Offer for the three of you to meet for coffee (better) or a Zoom call (ok).
Encourage – Once the hand-off is made, the sales pitch for membership is no longer yours. But it’s important to stay involved in the process, simply from a relationship-building perspective. Continue to do what you can toward a win-win proposition for company and chamber.
Engage – If you’ve made a good match, hopefully they’ll join. So, give them something to do. Offer to show them around an event. Invite them onto your golf foursome. Tell them the first drink at the next After 5 networking event is on you. It’s no secret that to get the value out of your membership, you need to work it. Be their coach.
Deliver – Now that you’ve sold them on the chamber, you have a stake in making sure that they get value out of it. Make sure to keep in contact with them throughout their first year to keep tabs on their chamber experience.
Making introductions is an enormous value to the organizations you belong to. Your chamber staff is trying to help every company they can – thousands of them – while at the same time tackling your community’s bigger picture issues. I have not met one chamber yet that’s not concerned with recruitment and is sitting back saying, “That’s good. We have plenty of members.” Bringing new contacts to expand their network is an exceptional value you can provide for them, and doing so will be remembered.
Momentum – The Business Growth Agency helps companies develop, implement and optimize their chamber of commerce membership and sponsorship strategy. Want to learn how? Schedule a 15-minute Zoom call with us!