Every city has a local chamber of commerce. The chamber of commerce is an associate which is in place to promote local business in the community. As a small business owner you are part of the local businesses that need to be represented by your local chamber. It doesn't matter if you have a home business, a bricks and mortar business, or a solely online business – joining the chamber and participating can boost your business.
How to Join
In order to join the local chamber of commerce you usually need to have a business license, or you can join as an individual supporter. Once you fill out the application to join, if you have a business location they will arrange a ribbon cutting, even if your business is not new. You will also get a plaque that shows your membership – usually a link to your website along with a description of your business on the Chamber website.
Once you join you also have the ability to get involved in various ways. Some chambers are more active than others but they typically have lunch and learn activities, monthly after hours events, and various events throughout the year. If you are going to join it's important to participate in these events, sponsor some events, and even host some events if you can swing it.
Members are Loyal
People who are involved in the chamber are very loyal to members. Chamber members will buy from other chamber members before they buy elsewhere. This is a good thing as it gives you a good market from which to work. You can also have access to the chamber list of businesses through monthly “chamber packs,” where you pay a small fee to include your flyer in a monthly mailer that goes out to all members.
Establish Your Expertise
Not only can you learn new things from other chamber members and events, you can also become a go-to expert by hosting events such as lunch and learn events about your topic of expertise. Usually these events are free to members, or very low cost to members to cover the space and food. They have good turnout, and you will get to show your expertise on your topic to other members.
Other members like to give each other discounts for services and products. It's a great way to build relationships with other members by using their products and services (at a discount) as well as offering your products and services to them at a discount. A good place to offer these discounts is through the monthly chamber pack.
Joining the local chamber can help establish your business quickly by raising your profile. You'll get to participate in members only activities, speak as an expert, go to ribbon cuttings of other members, and get free press in the process. The chamber's job is to promote local businesses. There is someplace for every new member to shine. If your local chamber isn't as active in a certain area as you'd like, volunteer your time and energy to those efforts and it will pay off in a big way.