Does anyone have experience with local/regional Chambers of Commerce as a networking source?
I'm regularly approached to join either local or state CoC's and I'm wondering if their fees are justified for the volume of business they might produce. I'm particularly interested in Sydney and NSW, but a wider perspective would be useful. Thanks.
Hi Glen, curious to learn if you ended up joining your local Chamber of Commerce. Was it helpful? I have found that if you are a new business, the fees are easily justified. Joining your chamber is not just about volume of business, but networking and meeting your neighbors. In the long run, this will increase your referrals and the perception of your business to the community.
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You have been given great answers. You get out of it what you put into it. Join a chamber where it and it's members share common interest where you work or live, not someplace remote where you have little to no reason to support their efforts and then as has been suggested get involved. Be a team player, volunteer where you can make a meaningful contribution. As others get to know you and appreciate your contribution to your common interest, it will over time pay you dividends.
I have zero knowledge, experience or some or any sort of source of contacts. Localities are usually never paid the way I was paid. Locals wanted the share of my plate, hence some random emails come by, force register and synchronize all plates bits, so that the localities have a chance to intrude. Finally I was ditched out and I am having my own business looking like street ditch!
In my opinion any serious networking opportunity is a worthwhile investment. I have experience in working with CC and it's mostly positive.
I was a member of a CoC for several years and throughout that time only gained one client. I do not feel I benefitted from a networking standpoint however as a self employed person it did give me access to extended health care benefits packages that were more expensive and difficult to acquire on my own. You should weigh up all the pro's and con's to see what best fits for you and what other benefits are available should the networking itself not be beneficial.
What is your target market and does the membership correspond to that market? I live in northern NJ and have access to 4 regional chambers and 30-40 local chambers as well as several Business associations. Each has performed differently for me. Some have brought me a lot of work while others have gotten me nothing. but you have to remember that you need to be ACTIVE in the chamber to reap the benefits. Get on a board or assume a leadership role to make yourself stand out. It is the only real way to make your mark and make people remember you. Good luck with it and let us know the results!
This is definitely one of those "it depends" moments.
The type of chamber of commerce is influenced by country, region, city, type of local industry. I had an opportunity to be part of a 'young' chamber of commerce, where the cut-off age was 40. Once you hit 40, you were out. The people there were definitely more hungry than the old-boys network / "lawyers, accountants distributing business cards" that you get at some of the older chambers of commerce.
My recommended first step is to figure out what you need / want first. Then see if a suitable chamber of commerce can help you get there. Maybe chat with an existing member or two first.
Last two years I had in average one contact a month with several chambers in information, training or networking events.
Normally it's always possible to do some networking, know new companies and people and present my services.
I had the chance afterwords to do some presentation meetings to companies I met there and recruited some partner suppliers to my services.
It's important to say that we have in Portugal several events of that Chambers for free also without being associated, so I invested some time and business cards, and the balance it's positive.
I think networking is important to increase institutional image and if you go with some regularity you became known to that market and have also access to new trends, people and companies.
Other possibility to benefit from association is to present the products or services with some discount or other added value to the other associates.
I would echo what many others are saying. My experience over the last 20+ years is as with most of the rest; you have to work it, not just join it! Be visible and accessible and GET INVOLVED. I've been a member of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce for 9 years, and for 7 of those years I've been part of the Ambassador Committee. This was an offshoot of me being in attendance at numerous events, asking where I could be of assistance, and showing the desire to both be an active networker and show others the best ways to do the same. I speak to new member groups all the time about the value of karma - being willing to connect other members with each other without anything coming to you. It comes back tenfold in my experience. So if you do join your local chamber, whether large or small, make sure you get active right away, look to connect people with others, and above all else, DON'T SELL! Nothing makes people run away from you quicker than for you to introduce yourself, talk about what you do and hand over your card saying, "I'd love to find out how I can work with you..." Be more strategic - leverage LinkedIn to help build that base of connectors!