I have been to a few networking events where I had the chance to meet the members of a few chambers of commerce. They were very kind and told me about some of the benefits that include joining a chamber of commerce. The benefits seem to be around networking and access to other members.
Does any of you have any experience with chambers of commerce and do you have any insights on the pros and cons of joining them? There seems to be an annual fee to join them and for that reason I want to be informed before making any payments.
Think of the chamber as a lead generator. For the membership to work, you'll NEED to reach out to the chamber members. More than likely, they won't reach out to you. Think of it as a door opener. When communication with another chamber member, the first thing you'll want to say is: "That you're a member of the chamber" and take it from there ... If you don't contact them, more than likely, the membership won't work for you.
Chambers rarely have UNIQUE benefits, so it really depends on what your local chapter has to offer you specifically. The cons are that the benefits can be obtained from any business networking group, and it costs money to join. The pros are that if you're seeking attention in legislature, speaking with the voice of the chamber can have a little more clout than by yourself. So, overall the chamber's benefits tend to be slim, kind of like the BBB. People join because they want to say they are a member, but it is rather extraordinary if it adds much of anything to the success of your business.
I used to be a member of a Chamber of Commerce in Manhattan as well as several other groups. First thing you want to consider is, what industries make up the biggest portion of the Chamber's membership, and, are those your ideal customers? If not, pass on paying for a membership. If they ARE your ideal customers, then you still have the option of paying as you go - so any time you attend a networking event, you can pay a non-member fee, or you can join. If you join, I would expect discounted rates on member activities, otherwise I'd question the fee.
Another potential benefit is exposure for your business, and taking on leadership roles in the Chamber. I was President of one of the referral groups for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce for 2 years, and an Ambassador for the Chamber, as an example. Got me featured higher on their online member directory.
But, again, it really comes down to whether you believe your ideal customers are part of the membership, which you can find out by attending several networking events as a non-member. Also, I would ask what they do to promote the businesses of their members - e.g. is there an online directory you get a listing on, do they allow you to speak/hold events or feature you at their events, etc.
No a real benefit. Focus like crazy on your own business, save your time and generate leads using working methods. Members there are small business owners and in 99.99% they do not want nor need your business.
Each chamber of commerce is different. There are a lot of networking events and opportunities to advertise. Our local chamber offers a co-working space and discounts on local services. We pay $39 a month for membership. For us, it is more than networking. You can join multiple chamber of commences.