After putting it on hold for more than a year, we recently joined the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. On Wednesday the 25th I visited their monthly networking event at the Shadows on the Hudson. Today’s post will be about my observations at the event and what the Chamber is and is not.
Above all, the Chamber of Commerce is a partnership of business owners and professionals working together to build a better community through collaboration, trust, expertise and long-lasting relationships. The cost to become a member of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce is $350 a year. Costs may vary depending on your location and regional Chamber you join. Regardless of the cost, being a member of a Chamber of Commerce has many advantages no matter what size your business is.
One of the main advantages is that you participate in a reciprocal PR campaign and network with local business owners who have the same?ultimate goal, to serve other people with their services. The Chamber has a number of events that can be used for marketing and networking opportunities. These events range from contact breakfasts, to business after hours, new members luncheons, free seminars, business counseling etc. I could? go on forever with the list of events and support they provide.
In addition, the Chamber has monthly publications, (e.g. monthly newsletter), membership directory, and their website. Members can advertise their business through paid ads or use these publications to stay informed with business news and?use the members directory for marketing purposes.
Being a member of the Chamber one can also get health insurance discounts, can participate in one of the committees, get discounts from local participating businesses, and get to be a guest speaker on one of the radio shows where you can talk about what you do. With permission, members can use the Chamber’s conference rooms to give a workshop or seminars to your clients.
So far I have discussed what the advantages of being/becoming a member of the Chamber of Commerce? are. As you see the Chamber is a great resource to grow your business and stay up to date with what is going on in your community. Guaranteed, you get way more than what you pay for.
Now, let’s go to what the Chamber it is not.
All the above will not magically happen just because you paid your dues. In order to get maximum exposure and learn from others you have to be an active member. Try and participate in the Chamber’s events 3-4 times a month at least. Don’t think that because you became a member and your name is in the membership directory, people will come running to your business. Putting it differently, people will buy from people they know, people they like, and people they trust. Who is that person? Your competitor who participates in all the Chamber’s events.
As mentioned in the beginning, the Chamber is about long-term business growth and relationships. If you are somebody who is accustomed to an “Elevator Sales Pitch” and all you care about is just that sale, then the Chamber is not for you.
In my opinion, the right thing to do is completely the opposite of the sale. Just meet other business owners, learn from them, what they do, how they do it and talk about what you do. With time people will recognize your face, get to know you and have trust in your expertise. When the right time comes and they are in need of your services or products you’ll be the first one who will come in their mind or who they will refer their friends too.
That’s all about the Chamber for right now. I look forward to meeting many ambitious local business owners and professionals. Join your local Chamber of Commerce if you haven’t joined it yet! It will be the best investment you have ever made.