Sales marketing and promotionsPART 1
BUSINESS COMMUNITY RELATIONS 101
Getting the Most Out of Your Chamber Membership
Community Business Journal
Since the major part of a small business typically comes from business to business services, it is essential to maintain a positive standing with the local business community. It is of value to you to join as many business type organizations as possible in your town. You should attend meetings when possible and introduce your clients to each other.
Most towns and all cities have chambers of commerce. The chamber offers many things to small businesses especially new ones and start-ups. Chambers provide a voice for the business community, a bridge between government - small business corporations volunteers - religious organizations schools clubs - homeowners associations corporations general public etc. Its a monumental job, always changing. It takes money, lots of it. It takes coordination and a knack for small town politics. It takes members who will volunteer, who care and are dedicated. Of course thats where you come in. Chambers of Commerce hold various events such as:
If you attend some of these events, you will make new friends, contacts and customers. Anyone can join the chamber. It usual costs $100-450. But you only get out what you put in. Many small business owners may see it as a waste of money. In actuality it is relatively inexpensive depending how you chose to use your membership. It can be long lasting advertising in the form of:
If you truly want to become involved, we suggest you join various Chamber of Commerce committees. Committees need your input. You probably talk to one hundred business owners and residential customers per week. Five hundred per month. They know you, they trust you and they generally speak their mind to you. When these associates, business customers and business people talk to politicians, its a more tactful type conversation. When they talk to Chamber of Commerce staff, they tend to also choose their words more carefully. When they talk to you, its more point blank, to the point, blunt and the reality of the way they really feel. Youll never get a sugar coated answer to a small business dilemma from an actual owner. Theyll tell you how they feel. Whether they are happy or mad as hell about an issue. You also are the eyes and ears of the community with its residences.
When you come to these committees you bring knowledge. You will soon find your ideas, observations and personal opinion are paramount. You are the most valuable tool a chamber committee could ever hope to have. You need to ask yourself Do you have the extra time? If you dont, dont volunteer. There is nothing worse than a committee member who volunteers and then doesnt pull through when he or she is needed. If you have the time you be repaid in new business contacts and customers and the feeling of knowing you made the difference.
How do you join a committee? Talk to the president of the chamber. Tell them you want to volunteer. Find out which chamber committees have openings. Many times there is no limit to the number of people, so try to pick one with a large group of members. You will be able to do more networking and big groups tend to divide sub-committee work loads more evenly. Join a committee that interests you. Dont join one you dont care about. Just like in college, you always got better grades in the classes you enjoyed, didnt you? Make sure the people in the group really want to get something done and its not just a whos who social gathering. That kind of group eventually fails to accomplish even the most basic of mission statements. You are a winner, so you should be in a winning group.
Make sure once you have gone to a couple of meetings, the turnover is low and that no one persons ego stands out in the group, especially if its the chairman. If this happens, go to one more meeting and dismiss yourself. Business is so good, I dont have any time left. Then volunteer to with flyer distribution by leaving information on your counter or delivering this vital information to your customers and business clients. Tell everyone you are more than happy to be of assistance. Then give everyone in the group your card. You can still help without battling personalities. Remember everyone there is volunteering and it is better to be a friend than an enemy.
Board Of Directors
Being on the board of directors of a Chamber of Commerce is extremely important. Its an easy job and very prestigious. Its also great for business. You will receive notice when board seats come up for election. Usually chambers ask their members through direct mail if anyone would like to run for a board seat. Fill out the form with a brief resume. Make sure not to go over the maximum word count. Try to shave off ten percent if possible because people tend to read the short ones more. Dont exaggerate your accomplishments. If you need help with this, call one of the current board members you know who is not re-running for the same position. Find out from the chamber what day they will be mailing the ballots and call everyone in the chamber two days before. Its important not only to win, but to win by a margin. It gives you clout with the chamber members and staff. When you win, make sure to attend as many meetings as possible. Usually meetings are only one time per month.
When you are privy to information about a new business opening or a grand opening ribbon cutting event, you should visit the business:
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