There’s a saying in chamber circles that a chamber membership is like a gym membership. You get out what you put in. You can’t join a gym, never go, and expect to have abs like Ryan Gosling. But is a chamber membership really like going to the gym? That depends on whether you like going to the gym or not.
Getting Out What You Put in to Membership
First, even if you never go to a single chamber event, unlike a gym membership, you will get value from joining. By investing in your chamber you’re helping pro-business legislation get passed, improving business advocacy for your area, and investing in your business community.
But while you’re undoubtedly a distinguished member of this community, there’s more to a chamber membership than these levels of advocacy. Because let’s face it, if you’re trying to pay bills every month, advocacy is not something that’s first and foremost on your mind. So, let’s talking about the other things you get from a chamber membership.
Okay, for this part you will have to do the work. Whether you attend chamber events or simply advertise in the directory, it’s difficult to use the chamber to build relationships and increase sales if you’re not present in some way. The chamber has dozens of ways to get involved. Just like with exercise, you can find the one that best suits you and that you’ll enjoy.
The chamber has a formidable reputation in our community. Through membership their platform is extended to you. You may have options for presenting your knowledge at a lunch and learn, writing an informative article for their blog or website, or mentoring another community member. The chamber is generous. They will share their platform because they want to see your business succeed.
There’s an app called Blinkist and it sums up books the way Cliffs Notes did for classic literature (but even shorter). These condensed versions take about 15 minutes to read or about 45 minutes to listen to. The synopsis helps busy people learn from books and digest more than they would’ve without the service.
Your chamber probably offers very similar services. While they’re not likely to summarize a business book for you, they do consistently monitor business marketing to keep up with the best ways to market, the newest social media techniques, and ways to use digital marketing to improve your brand recognition.
Most businesses don’t realize the kind of assistance the chamber can provide in these areas. Many staff members have or have had their own businesses. Plus, they’re in your community so not only can they offer business expertise, they know what works in your town, and they can place you in contact with others who can help as well.
You don’t have time to do it all yourself. Rely on them to figure out the best practices and then take advantage of the information they’re providing. Use the chamber staff for what they are—experts in business—to help grow yours.
A Final Takeaway on Your Membership
No, chamber membership is not exactly like a gym membership because with chamber membership, it’s not all or nothing. It’s not a decision between the couch or working out. You can never attend an event and still get value from the membership. You can gain a little exposure or a lot. There’s no one-size-fits-all experience. But if you do participate, your membership will be a much more inspiring and lucrative experience.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.