It's a great investment in your business and community.
Hey small business owner. Yeah, you! Have you joined your local chamber of commerce?
If you haven’t, why not?
Joining your local chamber of commerce is a great way to invest in your business AND your community.
Membership gets you access to benefits and connects you with like-minded entrepreneurs and business people.
AND…you can leverage your local chamber’s platforms to help position yourself as a thought leader and amplify your brand’s messaging.
The benefits you have as a chamber of commerce member are plentiful. Let’s explore some of those benefits.
Networking is the obvious benefit most people think of when talking about chambers of commerce.
It’s no secret that people are more likely to do business with individuals they know and trust.
Chambers host an array of events for members to expand their professional network and meet potential customers.
Even if your business isn’t location-based, local networking is beneficial as it provides a way for you to stay connected with your community.
Face-to-face events can be especially valuable for your well-being if you’re a freelancer or location-neutral worker. Not having the human contact you normally get from working in an office can be lonely.
Eliminate that “alone” feeling by getting involved with your local chamber. And if the organization doesn’t have a freelancer or remote worker committee, pitch the idea and start one.
Small office, home office (SOHO) is the fastest-growing new chamber segment.
Chamber membership helps amplify your brand’s messaging. As a new business owner, think about the time and cost that goes into promoting your products and services.
If you’re using social media — which you absolutely should — you know how hard it can be to build your platform and rise above the noise.
When an established and trustworthy page shares your content, people notice.
Social proof is important to today’s consumer.
Chambers are trusted sources for local business information. When they share your content or post about your business, it not only helps drive traffic to your page, but it also says, “Hey, we support this business and you should, too.”
Chamber membership also means you get a listing on their website and printed directory if they have one. Depending on your membership level, you may also get to place your business logo on the organization’s site, run ads on their online platforms and in their newsletters, and sponsor chamber events — giving your business more exposure.
Advocacy is probably the most important and most overlooked benefit of chamber membership.
Advocacy is the BIG PICTURE — strength in numbers.
Small businesses banning together to protect each other isn’t a new concept. It’s been happening for hundreds of years before chambers existed.
The city council of Marseilles, France established the first chamber of commerce in 1599. Or at least that’s the first documentation of a chamber.
Then one popped up in Germany before spreading throughout Europe and eventually to the U.S.
The New York Chamber of Commerce, formed in 1768, is the oldest in America.
Chambers of commerce have since become powerful advocates for their local business communities.
Think about this. The big-box stores drop BIG bucks every year on lobbying to protect their interests. Small businesses don’t always have the means to lobby.
So who goes up to bat for them? Chambers of commerce! They work with government officials and can lobby to promote policies that benefit small businesses and support local economies.
Chambers of commerce keep members informed of the latest economic news, events, and business trends.
They curate key business information and share it during regular meetings, in newsletters, and in emails. Some chambers even host podcasts to keep their members in the loop.
NOTE: If you’re trying to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, contributing to your chamber’s newsletter or being a guest on their podcast is a perfect way to start.
Communication during a crisis is paramount to a business. We saw how important it was during the pandemic.
COVID safety protocols changed rapidly, making them difficult to keep up with. Many chambers watched closely, gathered information, and communicated changes with businesses so they had up-to-date information.
Chambers also kept tabs on where and how businesses could access COVID relief funds.
Positive Community Impact
Chambers of commerce aren’t just about business interests. They work for the betterment of their communities.
Small businesses tend to be quite philanthropic. On average, they donate 250% more than larger businesses to local charitable organizations.
Have you ever noticed who most of the sponsors are for youth sports and extracurricular events? Yep! Your local small businesses.
And since chambers are mostly comprised of small businesses, many events are tied to a cause such as food drives, coats for kids, and other fundraisers to support community initiatives.
Your membership gives you the opportunity to be part of something bigger and make a positive impact where you live.
Access to Business Resources, Workshops, Discounts, and Loads of Fun
Chambers often offer a variety of resources and workshops to their members. And some businesses may offer discounts to fellow chamber members.
Lunch and Learns are a popular training format for chambers. A subject matter expert gives an hour-long presentation over lunch on a business-related topic such as marketing, financial planning, taxes, legal issues, or human resources.
Depending on the chamber, lunch may be provided with your registration or you can bring your own.
By the way…conducting a chamber workshop is another great way for you to start positioning yourself as a thought leader and building brand recognition.
Some chambers also offer mentorship programs. A mentor can be beneficial in helping an aspiring entrepreneur develop their plan or helping a business that’s struggling or looking to grow.
And finally, chambers of commerce members know how to have fun!
If you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or freelancer, apply to be a member of your local chamber of commerce. It’s a great investment in your business AND your community.