Getting the most from your Chamber and Local Industry Associations

I have often heard people lament that the chamber, or local industry group, has never done anything for their business. Although probably true to some degree, does that fault rest on the group itself or rather one’s participation? In the past 15 years I have joined and been supportive of many chambers of commerce, industry groups, trade organizations, and other entities and been witness to thousands of organizations who joined up in order to realize some goal.

What has worked?
Participation: This may seem like common sense, but simply cutting a check for membership dues does not qualify. Participation means involvement on committees, developing relationships with the staff and volunteers, and financially being supportive for at least a few key events or opportunities each year. This level of involvement goes so much deeper than what 80% of joining businesses and organizations are willing to do but is imperative if you want to attain your long term goal of being an important part of the local community.

Who are you, what do you do?
Educate: While participation is an important aspect of your membership, you must also strive to educate those you develop strong relationships with. Offering to provide your expertise, donating/discounting your services if applicable, and reaching out regularly to these members is vital to creating a foundation within the community. Everybody understands what “Pizza Hut” sells, but is your business as easy to describe? If not, develop a strong 30 second elevator speech that draws upon pertinent resources and your foundation of service to the local community.

What’s in it for me?
Sincerity: YOU MUST BE SINCERE. If it is clear to those in the group that you are not committed to the long term, you will not be successful. These groups are not cliques, they are people who have known each other for years, if not decades, and built a foundation of trust. They will be hesitant to throw out referrals until you can prove that you are up to the challenge. However, once you have built this trust the sky is the limit! Identify your objective

What is it you wish to accomplish? For some it is about networking opportunities, but for others it is a matter of legislative access, community support, outreach, or a host of other needs. Identify what it is you want out of your membership and focus your involvement on committees and activities that further this goal while helping you be involved.

How do I get started?
Just call them! At every chamber and industry association I have ever worked with is a staff of amazing people who are looking for new members that will get involved. Help your business reach its full potential in the local community and good luck!

Chris Chapleau is a leading consultant in solutions ranging from Managed IT and Print Services to Sales and Marketing support and has worked with his local chambers and association groups for almost 15 years. He has been voted Chairman of the Board, Volunteer of the Year, and been recognized for his sincere support of these groups. For more information on how your business can take it to the next level please contact him at or (661) 219-5160.

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