Chamber membership is good for business because it influences the community's perception of you. However, many business owners don't know exactly what the chamber does and so they don't take advantage of the help and resources it offers.
For a minimum investment, the chamber can help your business grow in ways that may be difficult for you to do on your own.
But if you believe these popular chamber misconceptions, you've likely put off joining and that could hurt your business.
1.Membership Costs a Lot of Money
Each chamber prices their offerings differently. Some use a tiered pricing structure based on the activities and interests you have. With tiers you are paying for mainly the services you use. Other chambers price their offerings based on the size of your company, giving breaks to smaller companies and expecting larger, megabrands to contribute more because they have more employees participating in the chamber activities and using their resources.
2.Membership Is Just for the Owner
One of the most popular misconceptions is that only the person signing the dues check is the only one who can participate. This is generally not the case. There's a lot to be gained from membership for all employees. A company can use chamber learning resources to help its employees learn more about timely topics like social media and multi-generational communications. Using services for one employee or twenty doesn't cost the company more money. In fact, even under a fair share pricing structure that is based on number of employees, the company is paying the same price regardless who uses the chamber's services.
3.The Chamber Is Boring and Old
Many people wrongly see the chamber as something their parents or grandparents belonged to but one that doesn't hold any interest for them. If you feel that way, you may not realize what today's chambers do. Many of them have young professionals groups that help with mentoring and feedback, as well as professional development that most employers don't have time for these days. Some chambers host "Taste Of" events, business expos, wellness seminars, and a myriad of other activities that are very pertinent to all ages and interests.
4.They're Part of the Government
The chamber is not a government entity or agency. While some may get grants from government organizations for specific projects they're working on (like a downtown beautification project), they are not linked to government funding. They are, however, uniquely situated with contacts in the private and public sectors that allow them to act as a connector for the community.
5.They Don't Know Anything About Your Business
Many of today's entrepreneurs think the chamber wouldn't have any idea how to help them grow their business because it's not a retail space on Main Street. The chamber does a lot more than that and is very knowledgeable about what it takes to improve a business in today's challenging markets. If, for some reason, they don't have the knowledge about your particular business growth struggles, they are well-situated to put you in touch with others who can help.
6.They Are Just Concerned with the Town
Chambers are advocates for business, all kinds of business. Yes, the community is a large part of what they do but they also advocate on a state and national level. Many chambers offer overseas trips to introduce and strengthen relationships between local business people and their counterparts in other countries.
Don't let a misperception about the chamber keep your business from growing. Get to know all the ways they can help. Even if you've been a chamber member for a long time, it's always beneficial to talk with someone periodically to ensure you're using the chamber member benefits to their fullest. The chamber is always willing to help.
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.