Do Your Homework, And Join The Cool Kids

Chambers of commerce are a great way to get your business instantly recognized in your locale. For a nominal fee, you become a member and – to me – the real benefit of membership lies in the ability to access a group of like-minded individuals without having to ‘build up’ the base of them over several years on your own. Most CoC’s also offer the option of having a ribbon cutting ceremony. This is, at its essence, a public coming out for your business. Often, the media will cover the event or, at the very least, make mention of it.

As a member, you will also be afforded access to unique benefits offered to the collective that may not otherwise be available to a cottage or small business. These often come in the form of discounts, advice, advertising specials, and any number of other myriad, useful things.

Chambers of commerce are also notorious for hosting ‘mingle events’, where members, and potential members, are invited to get together for a predetermined excuse and spend a morning/afternoon/evening, usually eating, drinking, golfing – or all three – and commiserating with one another. These events can be great ways to meet new individuals and promote your business. You may also find individuals doing likewise, who may offer you a special rate on a useful product or service.

One mistake I find many businesses making (aside from not joining these organizations at all) is either joining them, and then forgetting about them, or joining them, and then joining others as well. There are several problems with both of these. First and foremost, if you spend the money to join, but interact no further with the organization, then you’ve essentially bought yourself an expensive and ineffectual advertisement in the form of a ‘new member’ blurb in the limited distribution channels of the CoC’s newsletter. Secondly, if you join too many at once, you won’t be able to successfully cultivate the relationships that these organizations afford, because you’ll be spread too thin to effectively attend the events that you need to mingle at. So choose one – and choose wisely – to start.

Speaking on this point, when I researched CoC’s for our business, I looked not only in our immediate area, but in our surrounding area as well. You may not be aware, but most Chamber’s of Commerce will allow you to join their organization whether your physical location is found in their realm or not. What I found, through my research, was that the locale that I’m in has a very weak ‘good-old-boy’-ish chamber of commerce. In speaking with other members of the business community, I found that my money would be better spent joining the neighboring community’s CoC. This, in the end, is what I did. I avoided what could have, potentially, been a low rate of return, and traded it for a higher one by doing nothing more than a little homework.

A second thing that I found dumbfounding were the wildly varying joining fees versus the benefits offered. A small town on the outskirts of my area had, by far, the most lop-sided ratio I found anywhere and I could find no reason for this. Suffice it to say, I did not join that one.

In closing, don’t let me dissuade you completely from joining more than one CoC. I would merely encourage you to cultivate one from planting the seeds to harvesting the rewards before moving on to the next. And remember: members come and go and businesses sprout up and fail. It’s a fact of the business world. What this means to you is an ever-rotating crop of potential clients/customers just waiting to be tapped by you. If nothing else remember this: you get what you give. If you make efforts to get to know these individuals, not just as fellow business owners, but as individual persons as well, then you should expect reciprocal circumstances to present themselves. Conversely, if you do nothing, then don’t expect anything in return. Joining a CoC is work. The difference is that it can be much different, and much more enjoyable, form of it.


~ by digitalninjasmedia on March 10, 2012.

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