Every year business people all across America join the Chamber of Commerce full of expectations that investing in memberships will produce profitable connections. This has certainly been the case for Crux Creative and many of the professionals we’ve worked with. Yet sometimes the expectations of new Chamber of Commerce members are not only unrealistic but ignore the basic tenants of networking. Here are some guidelines that should help new and old Chamber members, whether they own their own businesses or work for someone else, more fully realize the benefits of Chamber membership:
- Look at Chamber membership as a long term investment. Networking, whether through the Chamber or individual contacts, is most effective when practiced as a way of life not just a periodic pursuit. Helping professional peers and colleagues outside as well as within the workplace; connecting longtime friends and recent acquaintances and volunteering to work pro bono for the Chamber, are worthwhile pursuits both for your personal growth and your professional reputation.
- Expect to give before you get. Offer to facilitate workshops to help others develop a special skill or add to their knowledge. Or volunteer to take the lead in planning and running a meeting or outing when other members are too busy to do so. All of the above are great ways to demonstrate your professional experience, reliability, organizational ability and willingness to help others. These are all qualities that are highly valued by business-to-business customers. And helping the Chamber is a great way to demonstrate them.
- Support the Chamber’s efforts whether you’re on a committee or head up the board. Becoming a Chamber board member is a great way to boost your resume and raise public awareness for your business. But a leadership position within the Chamber must be earned. The surest way to do this is to join a committee and take an active role in realizing its agenda. Your effort will enable you to prove your worth, judge the contribution of others and develop strong bonds with your fellow committee members that should serve you well throughout your career.
- Find a Chamber that is convenient, convivial and comfortable for you. Although the Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, every chapter is a little bit different. They often focus on projects that reflect the interests of their local communities. Since you want to make an ongoing commitment of time and effort to the organization, try to find a Chamber that is located near your business or/and home and that supports the same causes that you do. After all, attending meetings should be something you enjoy not just endure. If the chapter nearest you isn’t a good fit, don’t give up. Look for other chapters nearby that may suit you better.
Start by attending the Regional Connections meeting hosted by the Kenosha Chamber this month. This special meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, 11800 108th Street, Pleasant Prairie, WI and is for members of Chamber groups between Milwaukee, WI and Chicago, IL. If you’re not yet a Chamber member, it’s the perfect venue to network with other business people and to discover the many membership benefits of the Chamber of Commerce.
Crux Creative is a proud member of the Kenosha Chamber of Commerce and looks forward to seeing you on Oct. 23.