Chamber of Commerce: How to Make them Work for You

Published 11/21/2016

shutterstock_Thank You Photo.jpgAt Swipe for a Cause we are big on Chambers of Commerce. We owe them a lot for our success and for that we want to say Thank you!

Throughout the country are groups of businesses that represent the community with the goal of energizing the local economy. The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (http://www.acce.org) estimates that there are over 13,000 Chambers in the United States. For people to work, there has to be jobs-for there to be jobs, there has to be business-for your community to attract businesses, there has to be a welcoming environment to encourage commerce and entrepreneurship. So that means if you are business operating in a community that has a Chamber of Commerce, they want you to succeed. In this brutally competitive world, isn't it nice to have a friend? 

Sometimes we hear that people don't get a lot out of chamber membership. This often comes as a surprise to us. We’ll ask what networking events they went to and what meetings did they attended? 9 times out of 10 they joined, but then didn’t participate. This is such a loss. The Chambers we belong to offer all sorts of ways to meet potential clients. There are very few weeks that go by that someone from Swipe for a Cause doesn’t attend at least one Chamber networking event. These events allow our sales force to shutterstock_425728009.jpgget to know potential clients…and for potential clients to get to know Swipe for a Cause…in a casual atmosphere as opposed to the formal, ultra-structured feel of many networking venues-which are also great but for different reasons. Since many of the businesses we currently process for are Chamber members as well, Chamber networking events give us one more way to connect with them. Seeing a merchant outside their place of business is a great way to converse casually about what we are doing right and if there are ways we could be serving them better. Swipe for a Cause’s great success and growth over the years is proof that Chambers of Commerce work…that is if you participate in what they have to offer.    

So here are some tips on getting the most out of your local Chamber of Commerce:

  • Networking-start with the networking events. Here you will meet a lot of people-other business owners, local politicians, business services professionals, other networkers that have grown their network in the local area, and local business leaders. All great perspectives and hard working people that you will certainly be able to relate with. 
  • Volunteer-It is great to feel like a part of the community when you get out there and help. Even if you are busy trying to get a business off the ground, Chambers often make it easy-a lot of the time you can show up and participate. If you want to do more, no problem-volunteer to help out with planning and administration.
  • Advertising-Are you targeting business owners? Then the Chamber is a no-brainer. Having your logo on their website or in any materials they mail out or publish is a great way to target local businesses.
  • Social Media and Email marketing-Often Chambers offer opportunities to send out e-mails or social media posts. The great thing is, they already have a base of followers to draw from. If you are a new business, this is a great opportunity to be seen online before you have an established network.
  • Mailers-Chambers often send out mailers and have a local list to draw from. Often they will allow you to send out a mailer to the region at a reasonable cost. 
  • Referral Groups-Some Chambers offer referral groups. The benefit is that the members of these groups are like-minded. They are in a growth phase of their business and LOVE getting referrals. As a member of the group, you get the opportunity to tell the same group of people every week or two what makes your business so great-which means that they have intimate knowledge of what you have to offer and they become cheerleaders for your business. During the course of their own networking, if an opportunity presents itself, they can give a third-party pitch then connect you with a hot lead. Of course, these groups are all about taking care of each other-so to succeed, you will be doing the same for all of them.
  • Ribbon Cuttings-Ribbon cuttings almost always make the local paper. This is a great opportunity to get some press and celebrate an opening or expansion!
  • More-Each chamber is unique, reach out to your local chamber to find out more! Here is a list of the Chambers that Swipe for a Cause is involved with, we love all of them!  

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Tags: Chamber of Commerce RI