Why You Should Join a Chamber of Commerce…Probably

Most everyone has heard of a Chamber of Commerce, but few people actually know what they do and why they should be involved. A Chamber can be incredibly valuable to a new business. Here is what you need to know.

 

The Basics: What They Do

A Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the needs of businesses. Most Chambers are based on specific geographic areas, such as a city, county, or metro area. However, there are some specialized Chambers dedicated to the needs of certain minority groups.

Chambers have several purposes and goals, but all of them revolve around helping businesses and their community.

  • They act as a government liaison for its members in community issues
  • They bring together business owners for networking and helps drive potential new customers towards its members
  • They are not a government organization, but they may lobby a government when in its members best interest
  • They promote economic development in the region

 

How Can They Help You

The biggest direct impact a Chamber will have on a member is the facilitation of networking with other local businesses. Through the development of a strong community network, increased business-to-business trade can take place, and that should include you.

Chambers host a variety of networking and community events that give its members a chance to interact with each other or the local community. One local Chamber hosts monthly “business after hours” events where its members can come, for free, to network. It hosts concerts in a park over the summer, where members come together with the larger community.

I have hired a plumber and home inspector in the last year from a Chamber recommendation. Tourists often contact a Chamber looking for things to do and places to stay when visiting a new city or town. Chambers will often refer those tourists to its member businesses.

 

Indirect Benefits

While you may already unknowingly be reaping the benefits of a local Chamber, it is important to support these non-profit organizations so they can continue to work on your behalf.

Every business in a community benefits from the Chamber, whether they are a member or not. A Chamber has strong connections with local government officials, such as the mayor and city council, and uses that connection to advance the interests of its members, which are all businesses in the community.

 

Reasons Against Membership

The only real reason I can think of is the cost. Chambers charge members a fee to support their activities, but active members usually get a lot out of it. Depending on the size of your business and the Chamber, membership fees can range from about $100 per year to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

If you are a B2B business, you can make very valuable connections. Sometimes consumer facing companies may get less benefit.

 

Your Thoughts?

Is your business a member of a local Chamber of Commerce? Why or why not? Please share in the comments.

 

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