This week, I came across a video on Smallbiztrends.com that suggested for a small business to get the most value out of a chamber of commerce membership, it shouldn’t ask about what the benefits are, but rather ask themselves “how can I help the chamber help me.”
Help the Chamber Help You
I can rattle off many benefits behind chamber membership but it’s likely there’s one thing in your business that’s really bothering you. There’s one problem or goal you have in your business that if the chamber could solve for you, you’d be a die-hard member forever, right? If you’re already a loyal member, then you know there’s something the chamber does that you couldn’t do without them.
So, let’s talk about that.
Member or not, what is it you need in your business? What are you missing? What direction do you want to take over the next year? What can the chamber take off your plate?
That last one is a doozy, right?
We all have more than we can handle these days. We’re doing more with less, trying to figure out how we will pay for our necessities as prices skyrocket. What if there was something the chamber could do to take something off your plate, to help you do more with less time?
Whether you are a small or large business, wouldn’t that be great? Who couldn’t use a helpful partner in your success?
That partner is waiting. You just need to do one thing first to enrich that partnership.
It’s All About the Ask
According to Pew Research Center, women earn 84% of what men earn. There are many reasons we can explore to explain the gender pay gap, but one of them is in negotiation. Women believe if they come in and prove themselves, their manager will see their value and reward them with a raise. Men negotiate before getting the job. Part of the difference in the pay gap comes down to the ask.
The best way to get the most from chamber membership is simply to ask for help with your specific need. Chamber staff (and the chamber board members) have vast experience in business; many of them were or are business owners.
As a marketing writer, if someone comes to me and says they need content, I’m going to ask them several questions about their goals, their audience, and their past content experiences—what worked and what didn’t. Your chamber will do the same when you have conversations about membership.
If you are prepared for those conversations, you’ll achieve a much better return on your investment. Think about what you need. Don’t censor yourself assuming the chamber can’t help in that department. The chamber touches many areas of the business community from legislative advocacy to workforce development to tourism and a host of other things that are important to the success of businesses in your area.
You can still achieve great things with a chamber membership, even if you never have that conversation, and ask for what you need. But if you do initiate that dialogue, you may be astounded by the doors that open to you, or the bridges the chamber can help you build.
Chambers do some astounding work in the community, but they’re not mind readers. Ask yourself what you need and then ask them to help. That’s the way to get the best return on your member investment, whether you’re just now considering joining your chamber or you’ve been a member for years.
Christina Metcalf is a writer/ghostwriter who believes in the power of story. She works with small businesses, chambers of commerce, and business professionals who want to make an impression and grow a loyal customer/member base. She loves road trips, hates exclamation points, and believes the world would be a better place if we all had our own theme song that played when we entered the room. What would yours be?