How to get and lose business from a Chamber of Commerce (ARTICLE)

By on October 26, 2014

imagesSomeone once told me that Chambers are like the “long con”.  After I stopped laughing, I realized that it’s basically true. It’s almost impossible to go to one chamber event and walk out with business. What you will walk out with is contacts for long term relationships.

For the purposes of this blog, I can tell you that I am the President of a Chamber. Being President puts me in a unique position to see and hear about deals that are working and deals that aren’t. I also get to see who comes out to events on a regular basis, who volunteers for the chamber and who comes to one or two meetings before they quit. All that said, and I’ll address this more a bit later, I get to see who does not follow through on commitments.

So we’re starting with the theory that a Chamber is a “long con”. This means that in order for the con to bring you business, you’ll need to spend time and money. By time, I mean going out once a month to mixers, breakfasts, happy hours, etc…. More importantly, it means signing up for a committee.

If you’re intention is to get business, make sure there are people on the committee that you want to do business with. For instance, I am an insurance agent who writes commercial business, home owners and auto lines.  A great long term relationship for me is someone who writes life insurance and health insurance. This person would not be a one-time referral source for me. The hope is that I pass them clients and they pass me clients. Make sure that there’s someone on the committee that you join that can be a long term on-going relationship and not a one night stand.  537183_405450602873514_1549593561_n

For others in the chamber and on committees, business may not be the primary reason for being there. Some people join to find and use local businesses, other join to get involved with community.  Whatever reason you join for, I’m going to help you avoid the biggest pitfall of any member…(This information may seem obvious but will have a huge impact on your business).

I’m going to start with a story. One day, a small restoration company joined my chamber (this is good for me…. I use these types of companies so I was very excited). The owner of the company said he was really excited to get involved and give back to the community. He joined two committees and was asked to the join the board. He was amped up about all of the changes we were going to make and really wanted to help. After the first board meeting he attended, he had tons of ideas and things we could do to improve our member services and decided to take a role in membership as one of his committee responsibilities.  Many of you can guess what happened next. We called and emailed him and he wouldn’t get back to us. He never attended another board meeting and eventually, the board had to vote him off.  On the board are three insurance agencies, all of who sat there and voted him off the board. This person will not only never get business from any of us, but lf asked, we would let people know that he is not reliable and not to use him. Basically, in one month, this guy lost any chance at ever getting business from any of the influencers in my community.

The lesson here is an old one and I’m sure most of you know it already. However, just know that if you say you’re going to do something in network situation and don’t follow through, the loss of business is far greater than any gain you will ever get from a chamber.

Chambers can be your greatest asset if you have the time. Be selective on what you say yes to and make sure you know your reasons for getting involved.  Once you know your reason, you’ll be able to take a course of action that will help you get to the end of the con!

If you have any questions on whether a chamber membership will benefit your business, feel free to call me any time. There are some businesses that will prosper and others that will get lost in the crowd. It’s all up to you!

Laine Caspi

Paratus Insurance Services

www.paratusinsurance.com

818-345-9486

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  1. avatar

    Jeannine

    October 26, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    Excellent article. The key for me was – “If you’re intention is to get business, make sure there are people on the committee that you want to do business with.” Because most people join a chamber and participate with the the concept that they will be getting business from the relationships formed, you must do some research prior to going or volunteering to see if there are actually businesses that you can develop a relationship that will have this value for you.
    In life and in business, if you say you are going to do something do it. Your character and actions speak volumes.

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