What is the Chamber of Commerce and why is it important?
The Chamber of Commerce is a local organization that gathers business leaders working in the community. The intention is to advance the goals and interests of your organization and others operating in the area. Your town’s Chamber of Commerce can either be funded by the local government, a non-profit organization or both. They have the authority to vote on the board of directors that help create and implement policy.
A Chamber of Commerce is important for a variety of reasons, including:
- They promote small businesses: A Chamber of Commerce is focused on being an advocate for small businesses within a specific region. They can aid you with hosting an event that can drive more foot traffic and inspire other organizations to volunteer and participate in charity events. In other words, they can help provide tools and resources to expand the outreach of local businesses.
- Increases the exposure of your business: Being a member of a Chamber of Commerce is a cost-effective marketing opportunity for your company. You can speak about your company regarding what you do, your company’s culture and the impact it’s made on the community. Some business leaders may be looking to work with you if the function of your business is aligned with the goals they’re trying to meet. Also, you may be increasing your chances of getting third-party credibility through media interviews if you’re company continues to be successful.
How to network your business in a Chamber of Commerce meeting
Check out the following steps to improve your networking skills when you attend the next Chamber of Commerce event in your area:
- Conduct research
- Participate in light-hearted discussions
- Speak with different people
- Follow up with contacts that you met with
1. Conduct research
Begin researching different Chambers of Commerce to see who you can begin to network with. You should be able to find a membership list online. This list has names of people that you may already do business with. Try to contact them to see what value they get from participating in these meetings. You’ll want to understand the expectations of the setup and social interactions before you attend your first meeting.
2. Participate in light-hearted discussions
Once you arrive and sign in, remember that you want to keep your discussion cordial and focused on positive subjects. It’s best if you keep your conversations centered on the business community and the scope of your company. Be sure to bring business cards to exchange personal information, so contacts can remember you.
3. Speak with different people
Make sure you move around the room through the course of the evening and speak with different people. Each member has been influential in the business community, so you can get insight into their company and involvement within the community. Try to speak with 20 different people, so you can get a variety of perspectives and know which people you can get further information and business from.
4. Follow up with contacts that you met with
Be sure to thank the people who organized the event before you leave. Also, email the contacts you spoke with the next day to express your gratitude for the conversation you had with them. You can show your interest in working with them, but it’s ideal to schedule a separate time to meet if they’re interested and available to speak with you.
Last thoughts about the Chamber
Check out these tips to find the right Chamber of Commerce to join:
- Find a local Chamber of Commerce in your area: You want to be a part of a local Chamber of Commerce, so you can grow your professional network and help the community. Therefore, growing your relationship with your local community can build life-long friendships in addition to business opportunities.
- Review members’ names: Check the names of those within the Chamber of Commerce you’re researching. The names you find can be noteworthy as they may have been a prospect that you’re looking to sell or have been friends with you for a long time.
- Find out the resources they provide: If you’re a member of your local Chamber of Commerce, you can be eligible for discounts on products that can streamline your company’s performance. Some of these products may be insurance, supplies and software for human resources and accounting purposes. See if they provide these types of discounts and other resources when you research them.
Chamber of Commerce FAQs
Review these common questions about Chambers of Commerce:
What’s the best way to network at a Chamber of Commerce meeting?
The best way to network at a Chamber of Commerce meeting is to be professional as a representative of your business. It’s recommended that you absorb as much information as possible. The more people you speak to, the more you can talk about your company and contact the people you met during the meeting.
What is considered the right Chamber of Commerce to join?
You should join a Chamber of Commerce that you plan on being actively involved with. It’s encouraged to join a local Chamber of Commerce, considering the familiarity with the area you work in, but you can also join national and international chambers.