The chamber offers volunteer opportunities, networking possibilities, help with marketing and so much more. If that’s not enough, joining the chamber is also a great way to make a difference in the economic development of your community.
Whenever I think of the work of the chamber and its importance, I always think of the Bruce Springsteen song “My Hometown,” particularly the lyrics:
“Now Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more
They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back”
Without the work of the chamber, this would be the scenario facing a lot of towns out there. The chamber works very hard to help keep existing businesses stay open and lure new ones to town but they can’t do it on their own. One of the most valuable reasons to join the chamber is to make a difference in your community.
Your dues go to supporting their economic development efforts, while your time can help inspire others who are considering joining. But there are many other ways in which you can help make a difference. These include:
How to Make a Difference with Chamber Membership
- Become a business mentor. You can help an individual on their career path or guide the efforts of a start-up or new business.
- Have a say in the economic development issues of your town. If your town is considering charging for downtown parking, for instance, and you think that will hurt small businesses downtown, you can voice your dissent with the power of the chamber behind you, which is a much stronger position than going it alone.
- You are supporting programming that is helping the business community become more knowledgeable in things that matter to the success of your business like social media and digital marketing.
- Join a chamber mastermind group and grow your business.
- Share your knowledge with the business community through the chamber.
- Help establish a program of work with the chamber or a legislative agenda that allows your business concerns and growth desires to be heard.
- Remember what it’s like to be part of a grassroots effort.
- Know that large business provides the tax base. Small business provides the flavor of a town. All businesses provide jobs. Figure out a way all sizes of businesses can come together in town for mutual benefit.
- Sit on a committee and explore something of interest to you.
- Help recruit volunteers for the chamber causes.
- Get your employees involved in the community.
- Help launch a chamber bucks initiative to boost sales for local merchants.
- Get involved with the shop local movement.
- Speak to students on behalf of the chamber to instill hometown pride in the businesses that serve the community.
- Get involved with creating a scholarship or foundation with the chamber. Help decide how it will be rewarded.
- Help shape national politics by getting involved in pro-business initiatives on a local level.
- Contribute your knowledge to a chamber blog post or the newsletter.
- Participate in a “Get to Know the Candidates” night and make sure they understand the importance of being pro-business in your community.
- Talk with a business reporter about your efforts with the chamber. This gives your business some PR and helps more people understand what the chamber does.
If you want to make a difference in the community, joining your own voice and talents to an established organization like the chamber of commerce can help amplify your message and your reach. If you want to do something for your town and the business community, there’s no better way to do that than through chamber membership.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.