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.
I have been a member of my local Chamber for about 8 years. I have found it to be worth the cost. But your situation may be different than mine.
First of all, don't expect to join and get business quickly. It takes time to build relationships. Don't be the person that hands out cards to everyone at meetings. Rather talk to a few people and get to know them and how you may be able to help them grow their business. When you show you are a giver and not a taker, you'll begin to get referrals. I have built fantastic relationships this way.
My chamber has sub-groups within the chamber that offer educational presentations each month related to certain industries or levels of business, and I have found these helpful as well. For instance, we have a small entrepreneur program, health and wellness, technology, financial, etc. I find the information shared in the specific meetings I attend are helpful to me and my business.
So to make a long story a bit shorter, you may get referrals once relationships are built, and you may have other ways your investment can pay off, but it depends on your specific chamber, the members, and how involved you are. If you go only once in a while, you may find it isn't worth the cost.
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
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.
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.
If you have the bandwidth to spend a lot of time establishing real relationships with the members and have a strong desire to contribute to your community, the chamber is a good way to go. If you are there to land clients or do business development, it may or may not be a good investment, depending on who you are wanting to attract as clients. First examine your intent, then list the pros and cons.
There will be hundreds and thousands of these kind of group who would want you to join them in return of few $ but if you will join all of them you will be spending more then you are earning and it will result you nothing. Instead there are lot of these free clubs which you can join
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.
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 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.
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.
We have a large chamber with 20,000 members, many are corporations that do not come to events to Network be just socialize, many times sending their PA's for a nice lunch or cocktails. I was a member for 2 years, went to events, volunteered on a sub committee and never got a good lead. The smaller networking groups & Chambers with under 1000 members, mostly small businesses ,have gotten me a lot of great leads & work.
For several years, I've been expanding a TX based company into 5 states in the upper Midwest, working virtually. Initially I joined Chambers one by one as I rolled out local programs; I did get some networking value, but more importantly, I got some business office share, at a well known address, for prospect meetings and small events. That had value for a period of time, like a year. After that, I found that promoting through city and regional business magazines, all of whom link heavily into the same list as the chambers, has been a better bang for the $$$.
Wow that sounds expensive. Over here there are no real memberships for the Chamber of Commerce and most events that they organise are either free or have just a small participation fee.
That aside it could very well be interesting if you are able to increase your revenue through those "free" events.
A lot of this will depend on your business type/model & also what you mean by worth it. I am an accountant & am a member of my local chamber, and other networking groups for a variety of reasons:
1) Member Benefits - my CoC Fleet Gas cards likely save me more than the cost of my membership. Most have a variety of benefits - ask.
2) Networking - depending upon your profession, this can be more/less important.
3) Referrals - nothing better than referral business. BUT don't expect referrals just because you are a member - you have to participate to increase your visibility, then your credibility, before you start receiving.
4)Competition - being a member of the Chamber can elevate you beyind some of your competition (sometimes) or bring you to the level they are at if all in your area are members
Check out other networking organizations also to compare & see where the best bang for your buck comes from - in your eyes. Certainly BNI is another great option, with the added benefit of exclusivity.
In my opinion and experience, there are without any doubts many benefits when joining a local chamber of commerce and especially if you relocate to a new town or country. Among these benefits, it is a quick manner to have an easy access to the local business community through which you can develop your own local network, exposure and business. They also help a lot to allow you to better understand your business environment receiving key information (market information, suppliers/buyers, participation in trade fairs and events,...). They also organize, through their committees many events, seminars on specific topics inviting panels of experts in this subject (HR, Legal, Digital Marketing, ...)
I wish all you a lovely end of week.
My Personal Experience: Local Chamber
- Joined 1996 - Cost $250 Per Year - Now - It's Over $750
- Membership Events Were Good Networking BUT
Everyone Was After The Same Objective - Sale Their Stuff To You!
- It's Like: Going To A Free Advertising Site And Everyone Is Hoping
You'll Buy From Them When They're Not In The Market At All, To Buy From
- Open Chamber Events (i.e.Expos, Community Events) Good For Leads Outside Members.
- Advertising Offline Directory/Online Site: Again, Everyone Looking To Sell, No One Looking To Buy.
- Over-All: Over Rated - Over Priced - Under Delivered.
Sure the Chamber Will "Romance" You With Their Benefits And Their Reach, But, It's Really A Social Club, Of Smiling Folks Hoping To Sell You Something, Not Buy From You.
Hope That Helps!
P.S. Remember the Chamber Is There To Help People Moving In The Area. And Showing Visitor What's Available To Them And Hand Out Information. If that's your market, you have a chance...
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.
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!
certified life coach | leadership development | speaker
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.
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.