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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Participate in Your Local Chamber of Commerce

Who do you want to do business with? And, who do you want to receive business from? The usual answer is… business people in your own area or community. Your local Chamber of Commerce can be a powerful resource for you to tap into. But how do you find the right Chamber to join? And, once you have joined, how do you get the most out of it?

Listed below are some items to consider:

· Visit Chambers of Commerce in your area (if you have more than one in your area).
· Get a list of activities affiliated with the Chamber, such as monthly mixers, business to business expo/tradeshows and social or fundraising events.
· Look at their Directory. See who their members are. Look for potential “Power Partners”.
· Do they offer business workshops with informative speakers?
· How much is the cost, what do you get for that fee? The average range is $200 - $600 per year.

Often times, when joining a Chamber, busy professionals do not get involved in any of the committees, groups or boards. If you are willing, give some of your time, show people your enthusiasm and professionalism. This will directly reflect on everything else you do with that Chamber and will go a long way in developing a good image for your business. Think about becoming an Ambassador for the Chamber. This program will put you out in the community, personally meeting one on one with members. What better way to learn more about them and let them know about who you are and what your business is all about?

Don’t overlook getting to know the staff of the Chamber. Make an appointment with the CEO and/or President to learn more about activities to participate in. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in networking and getting to know the ropes. Often the movers and shakers in the community will be involved in the Chamber. By participating on the board or one of the committees or as an ambassador, this will put you side by side with the very people your business could benefit from.

Chambers of Commerce give you some things that no other “networking” type groups can give you. Such as: local political information, business counseling, educational programs, marketing or sponsorship opportunities, resource information, and workshops. Plus, Chambers usually have a memberships numbering in the hundreds of professionals.

As you can see… just joining a Chamber of Commerce is not enough. Investing your time and participating in activities and events can be a relatively inexpensive and fun way to get your name and business out there in your local community. The Chamber will provide you many opportunities to meet other business professionals in your area. But, you must be prepared with the right mind set going in – Chambers don’t work for you… you need to work the Chamber!