This article was written by Jerry Margolin, SCORE Orange County Management Counselor
In today’s business climate things are tough. Companies are laying off employees, reducing operating hours, cutting prices, and a whole lot of other things, hoping to hang on until this recession passes, and unfortunately, that may also include dropping their Chamber of Commerce membership “till things are back to normal.” You might want to think twice about those Chamber dues.
I’m a Chamber fan, and even when I worked for companies doing business throughout the country, I never considered dropping out of the Chamber to save money. It makes no sense. The Chamber is our watch dog for the business community. It monitors legislation, advises their members about “job killer bills” cuts through red tape for those who are having trouble with local, and state government, works with the city to encourage new business to move into their city. The list is endless.
In order to do that though, they must be supported by the various businesses that are based within the community itself. If your business makes its profit from the community itself, such as Retail Stores, Restaurants, Automobile Sales, Attorneys, Doctors, Book Stores, Banks, and on and on, then being a Chamber Member, provides you a golden opportunity to not only have a list of all the other members of the Chamber, it gives you an open door to meet these business owners personally by joining with them at these special events.
In order to be successful though, you can’t just get your plaque at a mixer, put it on your wall, and point to it when customers come in. You have to work at it. A Chamber Mixer is a business event, as is a networking Breakfast, and almost any other “social function” that you hear that they are having. When I hear “I don’t have time for these parties, I’m working.” I sometimes lose it, you are working! You have to get involved, “work the room,” introduce yourself, don’t attack anybody with a sales pitch, but let them know you are there, and interested in what they do, if you are interested in them, they will be interested in you. People do business with people they know! In these difficult times, they better know you!