The best way to spread the word about your business is by making connections. Whether you're new to the local community or a veteran company that has been around for decades, your reputation grows as you engage in other influential entities within your community.
That's why so many businesses choose to join a chamber of commerce. These resourceful organizations are made to help local businesses thrives. From building your brand's presence to increasing sales, learn how you can use your membership to foster your company's growth.
What is a Chamber of Commerce?
The earliest chamber of commerce in the United States came about on April 22, 1912. They named it the US Chamber of Commerce, and it still exists today. Yet it's not the oldest.
The first chamber of commerce ever created came about in 1599 in Marseille, France. Its purpose was to gather merchants, industrialists, traders, and craftsmen in order to discuss and tackle community challenges. The chamber of commerce was a place of unity, even among competitors.
Their voice soon became a persuasive power amidst public authorities and the community. So much so that more would pop up throughout the centuries, and even throughout the world.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is 116 years old as of April 22, 2018, and it's still serving as a spearhead which focuses on protecting the interests of American businesses.
Yet numerous smaller chambers have cropped up throughout the nation as a voice for local area businesses. Their purpose is the same, just on a smaller scale.
Local chambers tackle both issues and trends taking place in their community as well as offer resources and services to help local businesses succeed. It isn't just a goodwill effort, but an effective strategy.
Consider these statistics from American Business Magazine:
- 44% of consumers are more likely to think favorably of businesses who are members of their local chamber
- 63% of consumers are more likely to buy products or services from businesses who are members of their local chamber
- Consumers view chamber of commerce members as trustworthy and are 12% more likely to believe their products or services are better than competitors
What does a Chamber of Commerce do?
Chamber of Commerce organizations are not out-of-the-box, cookie-cutter setups. Every chamber is unique, with different benefits, resources, and opportunities.
However, their end goal is the same: to serve as an influential voice and power that stands for the wellbeing of the local business environment. This includes helping to promote local businesses and improve their growth.
From regular networking and volunteer events to promotion and marketing packages, your membership will gain you access to opportunities to make connections, meet potential new clients, and gain exposure for your brand.
Reasons to join a Chamber of Commerce
The universal mission of chamber of commerce organizations sounds great, but how does it work for you? What can businesses expect when they sign up for their membership?
Below are several reasons why local companies take advantage of their chamber of commerce resources, and how they go about it.
Being a Chamber of Commerce Member Gives You Credibility
A local chamber of commerce organization has a reputation for standing up for the local community and its economy. When your business is associated with their name, it gives the perception that you stand for these things, too.
As a result, consumers trust you more. This leads to more positive impressions of your business. Those seeking products or services related to your own will lean more toward your brand when faced with various options.
Chamber of Commerce Memberships Provide Exposure
Gaining exposure is hard, especially if you're a new business. You have to find ways to permeate your brand into the community so consumers know who you are and what you offer.
With a Chamber of Commerce membership, you gain resources that make this much easier. If you browse various chamber websites, you'll note they all house a digital directory.
Members are featured on these directories, which are used frequently by individuals and businesses within the area. New members are also often given various forms of exposure when they sign on for the first time.
This may include exposure through physical newsletters, e-newsletters, social media posts, and other forms of publication.
Chambers Provide Numerous Networking Opportunities
There is no lack of networking opportunities through an established chamber of commerce organization. From committees to mixers to ribbon cuttings and more, you'll find various opportunities to connect with other businesses every single month.
Most of these events are free or heavily discounted to members, making them an affordable way to network. Whether you're a B2B or B2C company, these events are beneficial. The connections you make can lead to new customers or partnerships.
Chamber Members Receive an Influential Voice on Large-Scale Issues
A Chamber of Commerce does more than serve as a marketing vehicle for local businesses. It has an important role in local government affairs as well.
They serve as a voice for the local business owners and industries. This includes addressing issues that may arise with new regulations, fees, taxes, costs, or assessments applicable to the businesses they serve.
When you join a chamber, you become a part of that voice. Your role is relevant and your opinion becomes part of the many contributed voices that form the chamber's views.
It's Like a Massive Rolodex of Untapped Contacts
Take a moment to consider just how large your chamber's directory is.
Now imagine having those contacts for your business. How advantageous would it be?
A chamber of commerce is a community within itself. It brings its members together to not only benefit the community but also to benefit each other. Through various events, you will meet, network, and connect with a wide array of influential professionals.
It's up to you to make the connection, of course, but the opportunities are aplenty. Many businesses grow their customer base and their network through chamber sponsored or hosted events.
Chamber Members are Kept in the Loop of Local Business News
Running a business is more than a full-time job. With so much to do, it can be difficult to keep up with what's going on outside your company's walls.
Chambers make it easier. Through regular newsletters, they update their members on various news and issues that are happening within the community, as well as spotlight featured or new businesses that may pique your interest.
It's a great way to stay connected, even when you're on-the-go.
Chamber of Commerce Memberships Open Doors to Referrals
Chambers are businesses just like you. Part of their job is linking companies and individuals to the resources they are seeking. This includes a slew of calls and emails, some of which may be looking for a solution that your product or service can offer.
When you're a chamber member, you become one of the organization's resources. When a need arises that your business can help fill, your chamber is likely to refer you.
Why? Because that's part of their core mission. They support their members just as your membership supports their daily operation.
There are Numerous Opportunities to Engage the Community
Chambers actively arrange and execute events, many of which are covered by the press. By becoming an active member who attends, sponsors, or hosts these events, you can get your moment in the spotlight as well.
They are great opportunities for positive exposure. Engage your community and make a difference while promoting your business at the same time. It's a win-win advantage.
You Have Affordable Access to Promotional Tools
Most chambers offer promotion and publicity packages to help you grow your business. This may include ribbon cuttings, sponsorships, or advertising.
Members are offered these packages at a price that is often much lower than what it would typically cost to execute. It's a perk for being part of the chamber's organization.
There are Many Ways to Save While You Grow
Chamber of Commerce organizations find ways to help their members get ahead. This may include member-to-member deals. These are special discounts or offerings provided to members by members as a way of supporting each other.
Other discounts may include reduced rental fees for conference room space, discounted event tickets, or affordable promotional tools like the ones mentioned above.