For 5 years, I have been a member of 5 local chambers in San Diego County, and I am a member of the Board of Directors for the local chamber in Vista, CA. Personally, I’ve invested $2000 in annual membership fees and spent about 2 hours a week attending events, and as a result I’ve gained 8 leads per month which has equated to over $8,000 in new sales and has helped with my retention rate for retainer services. In addition to partnering with other B2B vendors for services, we also feed each other new business.
There are endless networking opportunities. That is why I’m an advocate for small businesses especially new agencies joining their local chamber of commerce. However, there is a common misconception that when you join your local chamber of commerce that it will yield immediate results, and your client list will grow simply because you are a member. Realistically, it’s more like a gym membership for your business.
Your success is based on how much time and effort you invest.
How to Get Started
Visit your local chamber of commerce or call to make an appointment. Most organizations require an annual membership fee, but the structure is similar with a CEO, Board of Directors, and Committees.
What to Do After You Become a Member
Start networking. Most local chambers will host a variety of events to give you an opportunity to network with other business owners and influencers in your community. On average, you can expect to attend 2 or more events per month in the form of raffles, mixers, luncheons, etc. To maximize your attendance at these events you should have a goal in mind. For example, I tell myself I am going to network with at least 2 people before leaving each event.
How to Create Networking Opportunities
Join a committee. This will give you a chance to meet more influential people like the CEO of the chamber, local city council members, superintendents and more. It’s a way to be part of the chamber’s growth and planning, which ultimately increases your networking opportunities.
There are typically two types of committees you can join: the membership and the ambassador committees. The membership committee helps drive new membership signups and retain current members. The ambassador committee contributes to event planning, ribbon cutting, selling tickets, and overall hospitality-type services.
How to Expand Networking Opportunities
Join multiple chambers. If you have the bandwidth, you should consider joining more than one local chamber. Remember this isn’t just an opportunity to grow your client list, but it’s also a way to connect with vendors. Companies that offer services for payroll, accounting, consultation, or supplies. Joining your local chambers is an excellent way to extend the visibility of your company to the community and build a reputation for your brand.
As a small business owner, I have had tremendous growth opportunities working with local chambers, but memberships are not exclusive. There will likely be several companies just like yours. The best way to gain attention for your business is to be reliable and consistent. Opportunities will come naturally when you are active with your chamber and socially engage with other members.