Are local chambers of commerce worth the membership fee?
I have received several messages from our local chamber of commerce to join. It costs several hundreds of dollars for an annual membership. We have a lot of free events in our area and I am wondering the value of joining the chamber. Curious if others are members of any chambers and if they find value. Thank you.
NO - except you belong to the local "old boys" club and your business is targeting them. Other than that save your money or buy some real Internet advertising on one of the popular search engines.
In my experience yes. Some of my favorite work has been with other small business owners.
This is a very important forum to represent the industry for various government matters including the recommendations for tax ,levies and duty related matters to the respective ministries.
It also handles collaboration opportunities with other countries.
Additionally ,It is good forum to stay in touch with your competitors for various similar issues being faced in the economy.
In my opinion it is better to be active in Chambers and be very picky on other invitations.
Best of luck.
You need to check it out in terms of number of members, types of businesses, fit to your target market, members who compete with you (if any) and the host of other things already mentioned. Most chambers will let you attend a couple of meetings before pressuring you to join and I'd recommend that you do that to get a "feel" for how useful becoming a participating member might be for you.
I agree with the majority as to size, commitment, communication, activities, and so on. The association "can be" worthwhile if they, as well as, you are active and committed. The mission statement and the membership by itself is little if not worked.
A local Chamber membership is only as good as you make it. Chambers are interactive. If you don't participate you will not reap the benefits of networking with other business owners/operators. In addition, some chambers offer excellent training possibilities. Often businesses say that their market is not the same as the local chamber but that local chamber can help with infrastructure problems the business may have such as zoning. permitting and even road construction.
Is it worth it for a small business? Yes. because by joining forces with other business minded people you can accomplish a great deal more than you can by going it alone.
As many have said it depends on what they offer and on your specific business needs. Some of them have health insurance for their members at a decent group rate.. If you're a small 1 person shop it might be worth joining for that alone.
In our area, which is a small town of around 20,000, the local chamber has events sometimes daily, where you can network, some people think that it gives them creditability, I joined for a little while and decided because I wasn't able to take advantage of the opportunities that it was giving me to network, it was not worth the money that I had paid for the membership. If your chamber is to expensive, look to smaller towns nearby. I have joined a chamber in a neighboring town and it cost me half of what it was for the town that I live in.
It's really a location by location situation. From my experience, some are great, but most are not worth it. All that I have ever been involved with have been made up of small business owners and representatives of service organizations, all trying to sell whatever they have to each other. I have never gotten one worthwhile lead out of them. These days there are so many other alternative groups/meet-up's that have better options for generating some real business prospects without having to make the annual membership contribution required by the chambers.
They are all different. Find out what things you get by being a member - free local advertising, Chamber sponsored event at your business, etc. Also what different member meetings are involved. If you can get a couple chamber events at your company or about your company it is worth it.
I was part of a chamber where I got $1000 free local advertising including radio and print. Get the details and see if it will benefit your business.
I admit I too have mixed interpretations about the real value. Inferred is a networking value but that too depends. Some of the questions I would ask before making a call as answers may vary, include:
1. What do other members say about it?
2. What type of people are you looking to meet and will that constitute an environment where trusted relationships can brew?
3. What types of companies do you seek and are chamber events a good venue to understand their points of view, priorities so as to establish a fit?
4. How do they help make you visible? If it is just plastering your ad on their site, I would score that lower but if they allow you to post blogs, host lunch and learns, speak at forums and field questions, things like that are valuable.
Take a deep look at the things that shape credibility as superficiality is still in dominant supply so the harder the path you take to earning it, the more people will accept you as having it. I have done that with my marketing business and for large and small clients and it continues to be one of the strongest factors. Good luck with your decision. Bill
Brian and Walter are on target. I would review the membership roster and if you have sufficient members in your target market...join. However, you need to make a commitment to attend every meeting you can to make sure your face and name are branded in the members minds.
Wow, that's a broad question as I have found like a given community, each Chamber has it's own "rhythm" knit together under the Nat'l Chambers of Commerce. All Chambers are not exactly alike.
SUGGESTIONS: 1) Start by asking for a personal meeting with the Exec. Dir. asking questions relevant to your business in that community. One Question To Make Sure To Ask: Find out if they provide services which you see as competing with YOURS, which they see as a money-maker service for their organization. Some see this as a CONFLICT OF INTEREST. 2) Determine beforehand what YOU/YOUR ORG needs to get out of this relationship, i.e., its frequent access to members through social and or business gatherings, ask how members are offered opportunities to make this sort of connection. 3) Also, find out what the additional costs are to you above the cost of membership. 4) Such as web site and monthly member publications. They may sell this as a great benefit to you, at an additional cost (to receive it, or, be seen in it through your articles, etc. typically with print publications). 5) A personal story- I considered joining a Chamber (would have been #3) in a market I was exploring. When I found out the membership contact list cost $250.00, in addition to membership fees of $450.00. I found I could actually purchase the contact list in electronic file form for $300.00 as a non-member! This gave me time to get a feel for that membership before taking the plunge. 6) The rubb lately on Chambers is they have started to become more politically out-spoken on issues that don't necessarily support the constituents, typically small businesses and small business issues. Find out their stance on what they say are the 'Hot Issues' in your interview, you might be enlightened, or, unpleasantly surprised.
Just some thoughts, hope they help you!
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Depends on the membership and how many in your target market are members.
You also need to make a commitment to make it work and attend Chamber events.
This depends entirely upon the other members and their degree of involvement. If you were in a larger metropolitan area it would be much more relevant than if you were in a township with 12 other businesses.