When’s the last time you went out of your way to show value to your chamber of commerce or business association?
Are you saying that after I’ve sent my check in to my chamber of commerce, that I should then be helping them on top of it?
Like any professional relationships you build, the ones that create mutual benefit are always going to be the strongest. Your memberships are no exception. Too often, companies send in their dues and sit back, expecting the chamber of commerce team to go to work for them. Which they do, very well, but we know the experience can be incredibly more rewarding with some additional attention on your part. Helping them do the best job they can do for your community is the best way to build a strong, mutually beneficial relationship.
Put yourself in the shoes of your chamber of commerce. What do they need to accomplish on a daily basis, and how can you help them do it? Having worked on both sides of the equation – as a not-for-profit executive for the past fifteen years and a small business owner that not only represents clients that use chambers, but use them ourselves, I’m here to shed some light on what your business organizations need, and how you can help them:
Chambers of Commerce need to provide value to as many members as possible on a daily basis
Look at your chamber’s membership directory, and then look at their “About Us” staff page. Every single member in that directory is looking for value for their investment and has a renewal deadline coming up, and the handful of folks that work for the chamber are working every day to try to provide it. It’s an insurmountable job. So, what expertise do you have that can provide value to large swaths of companies in the chamber’s members? Can you dissect a new business regulation in a white paper to help people understand it? Is there a new technology you’re using that has increased productivity that you can share with fellow chamber members? Is a marketing trend coming down the pipeline that you have inside baseball on and others could benefit from? This kind of up-to-the-minute content was important for chambers before COVID-19, and is even more critical now. How can you help?
Chambers of Commerce need to be able to answer every question
Chambers of commerce are an interesting animal. While their roles have certainly changed over the years, people recognize them as the place where you can get any question answered. Business, tourism, government, health care – doesn’t matter. For many Americans, the chamber is the first place they call. Which means that chambers of commerce need to have a robust network, because they want to be able to fulfill every request that comes their way. Who in your network would be good for your chamber of commerce to know? What community organizations have you not seen involved? Where are you connected that could lead to a collaboration opportunity?
Chambers of Commerce need champions
This is a huge one. That staff list on the chamber’s “About Us” page? They are working incredibly hard to serve your business community, being pulled in many different directions every day to do it. So, it is incredibly rewarding for them when their hard work is recognized. Not simply with accolades, but with action. New member referrals. Sponsorships. Offers to serve as active participants on committees or the board. Even something as simple and easy-to-do as sharing their posts on social media makes a huge difference. If you’ve joined an organization, it’s fruitful to always be thinking about how you can support your chamber’s efforts among your network.
Now, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know – you just may not be putting it into practice. It’s the theory of reciprocity: the human tendency to want to give something back when something is received. If you make a point to do all of the things above, to help your chamber of commerce wherever you can, who do you think they’re going to turn to when they need a speaker for a panel? Or, when a question comes in to the office requiring a referral in your area of expertise? Or, when the year’s hottest sponsorship marketing opportunity becomes available? You’ve spent time making their lives easier – which includes knowing exactly who to go to when they need someone that does what you do.
For every organization you join, you’ll get lots of push to “maximize” your membership, which usually encourages you to attend events and “get involved.” Which you should do, definitely. But, by putting yourself in the shoes of the chamber team, and learning what they need to accomplish, you can effectively strengthen your relationship with the organization, as well as your return-on-investment.
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!