When you run a business, the multitude of tasks can be overwhelming. There’s strategy to deploy,to implement, clients to manage, orders to fulfill and that’s just before lunch! How can a business owner get the most from these long days?
Believe it or not, your local chamber of commerce may be the most valuable professional membership available. After all, this is a group dedicated to economic opportunity and prosperity.
First, identify the right chamber for your company. A small, local printing shop may find it most helpful to join a small suburban chamber while a larger business may get more benefit from aligning with a regional or state chamber. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce for support.with international sales may look to the
Once you’ve found the chamber of commerce you think will best help your company, look for the following valuable benefits.
1. Build a network
The breakfasts, luncheons and happy hours sponsored by any chamber of commerce allow members to meet other like-minded business owners and managers. These meetings give you the chance to hear what other business owners are dealing with.
Say you’ve got a problem employee and aren’t sure how to coach for better performance. Or, you suspect you need new marketing materials but don’t know where to start. Or, you need a new cleaner for your offices. Theseated at your lunch table give you a forum to seek guidance, get leads for new vendors, and develop professional friendships.
Even better, volunteer for a chamber committee focused on your top priorities. Depending on the size of the chamber, you might join a committee focused on government relations, local education or disaster preparedness.
2. Get market information
Yes, your middle-market business may specialize in offering a particular service or product, but you still have many of the same information needs of any corporation. Chambers of commerce specialize in getting that information to its members.
Such critical information includes new city, state and federal regulations or tax changes that may affect your, business lobbying efforts, market changes and best practices.
3. Increase your company’s visibility
New chamber members are listed in the chamber web site, newsletters, on Facebook and other chamber publications. This helps improve your search engine rankings, particularly if online mentions link back to your company site.
You might garner additional visibility in your community by sponsoring events or buying advertising with the chamber. Membership in a chamber gives new companies in particular much-needed exposure in those critical early days.
4. Discounts on business services
Many chambers of commerce offer members discounts to business services and products. You may be able to save money on everything from office supplies and insurance forto printing and advertising. What’s more, these discounts can help you keep your spending local – always a good idea when you are running a small to medium-sized local business yourself.
Yes, your time is precious and in short supply. However, investing time in your local chamber of commerce could make the difference between a rip-roaring success and ho-hum sales.
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