With any membership, you want to maximise it and get the most out of it; whether that be a gym, a club or your local Chamber of Commerce. As an advocate and member of the Redland City Chamber of Commerce I encourage other business owners to join their local Chamber and often guide them on how to maximise their membership.
Here are a dozen tips to achieve the most from your membership, regardless of which Chamber you are in, or considering.
1. Join. I know, this is somewhat obvious, but until you join, you are just sitting on the fringes. You need to show others around you that you are passionate about business, care about your local business community and willing to back that up with becoming a member. Many Chambers offer additional benefits of being a member, benefits you will miss out on until you join.
2. Know the benefits. It doesn’t stop at becoming a member. So you’ve joined, but what now? Find out what the benefits are of being a member and how to access them. If this info doesn’t come to you automatically, drop your Chamber a call or email and ask.
3. Take action. Having been involved in many business groups, including networking groups, I find that many members are slack in taking action to promote their business. The member, for example, may know they can have a listing on the website, they have been given the link, or have been requested to provide some information, but things stop there. It’s not up to your Chamber to write your spiel for you, that’s your job, and the sooner you do it, the sooner it’s up and the sooner you are reaping the benefits. Take no action, and don’t be surprised when little results occur.
4. Attend! Just like with a gym membership; being a member doesn’t get you fit or help you lose weight; attendance is what works. The same occurs with your Chamber. You need to attend events and be seen (and see others) in order for business opportunities to present themselves. If you can’t attend every event (and I know that can be hard for some of us) at least commit to attendance once a month. Consistency is always the key when it comes to marketing, business or commercial growth.
5. Be ‘Present’. When you are at an event, be present. There is little point of you being there if you are on your phone the whole time, or texting, hanging out on Facebook or catching up with emails on your phone. Have a notepad and pen with you to take notes if there is a presenter, or education included (maximise your learning) and of course be sure to bring your business cards. Saying things like “I forgot my cards” or “I’ve run out” doesn’t tell me that you are organised and someone I really want to do business with. A printer can run off cards in less than 48 hours, so there is no excuse.
6. Avoid your ‘Mates’. I know networking can be a little daunting, but ask yourself why you are at the event. If it’s purely because you’re there to hear a great speaker, then great, but if you are there to network, connect with others and seek out business opportunities, then may I recommend you don’t ‘hang out’ with your friends, you don’t sit at a table with them or your co-workers and you make the effort to meet and talk to someone you don’t know. If you are nervous about meeting strangers, then ask someone you know to introduce you around, or even mention this to a Chamber event organiser; they are sure to be able to connect you with someone who would love to introduce you to lots of great like-minded business owners in the room.
7. Spread the Word. We’ve all heard the expression “the more, the merrier” and this is true of a Chamber. Have abundance mentality and invite other business owners, even your competition. The more members that a Chamber has, the greater its strength. The greater its strength then the more it can endeavour to achieve on behalf of you – the business owner. There is absolutely “strength in numbers” and numbers add vitality to events. Do your friends and associates in business a favour and invite them along to your next Chamber event. They might even consider joining and will appreciate you were thinking of them. Your co-members in the Chamber will appreciate your efforts in growing the Chamber that exists to help them.
8. Be Positive. A networking tip I regularly share is to always be positive at events. If something didn’t go right (perhaps you were overlooked as a new member to do your 60 second infomercial), don’t whinge about it to everyone else. Instead, later have a quiet word with the Secretariat or a member of the Committee. However, please do this nicely; many Executives are volunteers and they are giving off their time, so be appreciative of that. Things happen, but they most likely can be fixed. Remember the adage “you will get more flies with honey than vinegar”.
9. Get Involved. Being a member is great, but consider taking on a little more. Being a member of the Executive or a sub-committee means that you become more involved in your local Chamber, you are helping your local business community and you will definitely achieve more exposure for it. Exposure shouldn’t be your prime objective, but it’s sure a nice by-product!
10. Be a Sponsor. If you don’t have the time but you have the money, Chambers are always looking for sponsors. Having a breakfast series named after your business, or even a business award named after your company is amazing exposure and brand awareness. Last year, our local chamber had 650 people at the awards dinner; this was exceptional exposure for our wonderful sponsors.
11. Awards. And speaking of Awards, if your local Chamber has these, be sure to apply. You don’t have to be a marketing expert or even in business a million years prior. I remember I won my first Award on my very first application. I was green and unsure, but I gave it a go and if you follow the instructions, are passionate about your business and believe that it is great, that will come through in your application. Do nothing, and nothing will happen. Whether you win, are a finalist, or simply learn from the process, there is so much to be gained by applying.
12. Join! Yep, I know I already said this, but I’ll say it again. Joining your local Chamber is where it all starts. This is the very first step and from there the opportunities become available. You will get out of your membership what you put into it.
If you’d like to know more about the Redland City Chamber of Commerce, have questions or would like an application, feel free to call me on 0411 622 666 or contact the Chamber Executive Officer directly on 0478 202 306.
Donna Stone is a business coach with three decades of experience, has won a multitude of Awards and is multi published author. She is passionate about business and helping business owners achieve their own success. Visit www.donna-stone.com.au to learn more.
© Donna Stone, 2017