by Sheri Heiney, President & CEO, Prescott Chamber of Commerce
Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce? If not, what are you missing? Recently the Prescott Chamber of Commerce was voted by the Phoenix Business Journal as one of the Top Ten Chambers in Arizona with almost 900 members! We’re No. 9!
Chambers exist to serve their members and help them to be more successful. Chambers are supported by membership dues, which are usually based on the size of your business. Your dues are tax deductible as a business expense. Most businesses benefit in some way from membership, and small businesses often benefit dramatically from the power of joining together with their peers in this way. Here are some of the things local Chambers do for the business community, along with a few suggestions for getting the most from your membership.
For many of us, it’s important to be visible. Chambers sponsor social events and networking groups designed for members to meet and do business together. If your business depends on local-business generation, this is an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up. Even if your customer base is not local, the connections you make can be an invaluable source of local goods and services for your business needs.
Also, check out your Chamber’s Ambassador Committee if you’d like to have a built-in opportunity to welcome and meet new members.
When you’re a member, you’ll be listed in the Chamber directory, but your opportunities for promoting your business don’t stop there. Chambers have websites, newsletters, newspapers, brochures, and more. They sell advertising in most of these, and only chamber members advertise. The costs are generally modest, and if your target market includes other Chamber members, the ROI can be fantastic.
Many Chambers really shine in this department. Training yourself and your staff can be expensive, but it’s important to keep up with new developments and continue improving everyone’s business skills. Chambers offer classes, workshops, and seminars, taught by member professionals, at a low cost to members. These professionals go out of their way to do a great job because their community reputation is at stake.
Businesses and residents new to a community frequently call the local Chamber of Commerce for referrals for the goods and services they need. Guess what? If you’re not a member, Chamber staff can’t refer you. Take the time to get to know the staff of your local Chamber, and make sure they have the information they need to send business your way.
Volunteering to serve on a Chamber committee that fits your interests or expertise creates leadership opportunities, helps you become better known in the community, and can help position you as an expert in your field.
Every Chamber is different, and there may be other opportunities in yours not mentioned here. If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to find out more, and if you are a member, take another look at what your Chamber offers. You may be pleasantly surprised!
For more information about the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and upcoming events and programs, please visit prescott.org or call us at (928) 445-2000 or (800) 266-7534 or stop by the Visitor Information Center at 117 W. Goodwin St., Prescott, AZ 86303.