June 2011 Getting the Most from Your Chamber of Commerce
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Getting the Most from Your Chamber of Commerce

 
By Steve Strauss. ARCHIVE:

Want to know an easy, affordable way to grow your business? I will share this secret with you: Join your local chamber of commerce. Indeed, chambers of commerce can be one of the best friends your small business can have.

Think about it: The whole purpose behind a Chamber of Commerce is to help small businesses succeed. Indeed, over 85% of U.S. Chamber members are small business owners. And what kind of business are you involved in? Right, a small business. So your local Chamber is a place committed to your success.

At your local Chamber, will find a host of programs and resources intended to make your life easier and your business more profitable. And considering that most small businesses are out there all alone, having a network of like-minded entrepreneurs on your side can really be nice.

Let’s consider the various ways a Chamber of Commerce can help a small business:

1. Programming: Much, nay, most, of the programming done by Chambers is intended to help their members grow their businesses. Chambers bring in speakers, offer educational seminars, create informational newsletters, host luncheons, spotlight successful members, facilitate small business counseling, supply relevant demographic materials, sponsor business expos, and offer a variety of other programs intended to help grow members’ businesses.

2. Networking: As indicated, one issue many small business owners have is that they are out there on their own, without a whole lot of support from anyone else. But if you join your local Chamber, that will change in two significant ways.

  • First, you will suddenly be mixing with a host of like-minded people – small business owners who, like you, are juggling payroll, taxes, a tough economy, and home life. There will be people to bounce ideas off of, and ideas from others that can be applied to your business as well.
  • Second, Chambers of Commerce regularly have mixers, offering you the chance to meet and do business with your fellow Chamber members.

3. Lobbying: Legislation of all sorts on the state and national level have profound impacts on small businesses. However, most small businesses have neither the time, resources, understanding, nor desire to lobby on a particular bill. That’s another place where a Chamber of Commerce can help.

According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, “We’re the loud voice you need to be heard in the political arena, to represent the important issues that affect small businesses. With your input, we can make a difference and provide tangible results.”

4. Getting involved: Chambers always have a variety of committees that allow you to participate in your community on issues of importance to you. By joining one of these committees, you can make a difference and have your voice heard.

5. Discounts: Chambers offer their members discounts and deals on everything from health insurance to computers to education, and on.

So yes, joining a chamber of commerce is usually a very good idea.