Every small town has a chamber of commerce, but how do you use your chamber of commerce? How do you get the most from it?
Find out what services your chamber of commerce offers.
- Almost every chamber of commerce does referrals. When a person asks the chamber about a type of business, the chamber refers them to a member business.
- Many chambers offer some publicity for your business, through a newsletter, website, or brochures.
- Chambers offer local business news and updates, either through their own newsletters and websites, or through the informal connections you make there.
- Most chambers are active on legislative issues and give you a chance to advocate in a group for small business issues. State chambers tend to be focused on big business issues, but local chambers vary.
- Some chambers have group membership benefits available, like insurance, discounts, or other services.
- Your chamber may present educational workshops, speakers, trainings and leadership programs.
- Good chambers tend to create events to build community and business activity, like festivals, car shows, recruiting fairs and town-wide sales.
- Larger chambers may offer business counseling to help you get started in business or solve problems in your existing business.
Use your chamber as a connection point.
Even fairly large small town chambers don’t do everything. Hopefully, they should know all the other players in your local market and be a hub of connections.
While the size of your chamber depends largely on the size of your town, the quality of your chamber depends largely on the people. If you don’t have a great chamber, get involved in improving it. What if you have a really rotten chamber? Try the next bigger neighboring city or see if you have a county or regional chamber.
Treat it as a long term investment. What you put in today in dollars or in time will pay off, but it will probably be far down the road in ways you don’t expect.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.