I’ve been in business for many years now. I have exercised many forms of promoting what I do. I have been foolish enough to fall into poor forms of advertising. I have been scammed into ineffective programs with huge long-term contracts. And I have participated in organizational promotion setups.
By far, the best bang for my buck has been participating in local Chambers of Commerce. I have been a part of many Chambers and have met some phenomenal contacts through them. These people have, by far, been a great part of my success.
People like Kelly Thorsby at the Elizabeth City Chamber of Commerce have proven invaluable. She provides value in so many ways. She lets others know what I do and how it can assist them. Then there is Ginny-Kirk Andrews (@GinnyKirkDCC) at the Durham Chamber of Commerce who does everything in her power to find ways to connect your business to others whom you can help or who may be of use to you. I could go on with many people from various Chambers but it would just be reiterating the same sentiment.
Chambers of Commerce offer you multiple functions and educational events where you can expand your business. They offer website impressions and free luncheons and breakfast get-togethers. Each of them have unique chances to expose your community to the services or products you provide.
Now it’s time for me to get off my soapbox. You now know I believe in the Chamber of Commerce. But this week I ran into several people who spoke against Chamber membership and how it did nothing for their business. Each sounded out the same complaints. Yet when I asked simple questions like “Did you attend Business After Hours events?” Each replied with a resounding “No.” I asked about ribbon cutting events and none of them said they had. I asked each the name of the Chamber President for their respective chamber. Only one out of the four naysayers even knew the President’s name. I asked how many educational events they had attended and repeatedly got the answer none.
So I ask, “What product do you purchase but not use and still expect to work?” If you visit your local hardware store and purchase weed eaters, will it work itself? Will it unbox itself, fill itself with fuel, and walk itself around the home to rid you of weeds? Or must you make the purchase and follow that with action?
Stop treating Chamber membership like magic bullet and realize it’s an investment of time and effort.
Find the events that fit into your schedule. If your schedule is tight, find an employee that you can pay an hour’s wage to represent your business. Market what’s grand about your company to those around you. That marketing can result in connections that pay ten-fold for your membership. Chambers are staffed with professionals who know that their employment depends on promoting you. Without knowing you or your business personally, they are not able to be as big an asset to you.
Treat the Chamber Like Your Weed Eater.