There’s a reason Chamber of Commerce groups still stand strong in a world that revolves around technology – they provide local business owners with a way to connect and network in person, affording numerous opportunities to grow their business and engage with their communities. Membership also improves your business’s optics. Research shows that 49% of consumers trust a company that is a member more than they do one that isn’t, and 80% of local consumers will choose to do business with a Chamber of Commerce member over anyone else.
Old-school networking in the modern world
The primary goal of any Chamber of Commerce, whether it’s your local organization or a national group, is to provide a platform for business owners to connect with one another. Membership gives you access to networking events, fundraisers, and workshops, providing ample opportunities to get to know the other business owners in your area. While what you do at these types of events, and how heavily you participate, determines how quickly you grow your business network, simply joining automatically increases your chances that local businesses will be willing to connect and work with you.
A seat at the political table
Outside of networking opportunities, Chamber of Commerce groups work to protect local businesses and advocate for them by bringing their issues to politicians, campaigning for and against regulations, laws, and taxes that could help or hurt, respectively, your growth. By becoming a member, you have relatively unfettered access to information on upcoming proposals and the ability to voice concerns and work with the group to protect your livelihood.
Discounts on services and supplies
Membership also gives you access to discounts for your business. These vary depending on your location and the members of your local group, as most discounts are provided by fellow business owners, also known as member-to-member discounts. Your local Chamber of Commerce should have information available as to what it’s currently offering on the local chapter’s website. This not only saves you money, but by returning the favor and providing discounts to other members for your services, you’ll also increase trust and expand your network. Generally, you can expect discounts on shipping, business software, office supplies, and similar products and services that you likely use on a day-to-day basis.
Expanded marketing avenues
The goal of a Chamber of Commerce is to help build local businesses up, and for this reason, the group regularly provides help in marketing group members’ businesses. It can be as small as liking your Facebook posts and retweeting your tweets, or as involved as aid with print marketing campaigns and features on their websites or at events. It’s just another way to bolster visibility in your community, with the backing of a long-standing, trusted organization.
Joining your Chamber of Commerce isn’t a fast-track to “getting in” with your local business community, and it isn’t free. Most organizations charge a yearly membership fee as well as a monthly charge, all of which varies depending on the specific chapter. But ultimately, if you put effort into it, get involved, and try to help other businesses as much as they help you, the benefits of joining far outweigh the relatively minimal cost and time investment.