It’s membership renewal season for the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce, a time when we as a chamber should (and do) remind our business community of the many benefits of maintaining or commencing active membership.
Note that I stressed the word active here. Pardon my detour into Clichèville, but the old adage “you get what you put in” can easily be applied when thinking about your best approach to membership this year.
“What’s in it for me?” is a common knee-jerk response when approached with the opportunity to become a member of any collective organization. In which case, the common response from chamber staff would likely include key benefits such as networking opportunities, business-to-business discounts, access to industry research, business advocacy at the government level, cooperative advertising opportunities, access to group insurance and employee benefits, business training and website and collateral presence, as just a few of the basics.
Instead try asking yourself, “How can I make the most out of my membership this year?” By tweaking the initial response ever so slightly, you just might uncover the true potential behind your membership. The key benefits remain the same, only now you’ve set a challenge for yourself to finding creative and proactive ways of maximizing your membership.
Can you become a volunteer at the board level as a director? It might mean setting a few hours each month aside to attend board meetings and functions, but isn’t your bottom line worth that dedication? Being on the board not only allows you to become an active leader in all aspects of the organization, including decision-making, it also increases your visibility within the community you do business in.
As is the case here in Enderby, your local chamber might be responsible for the promotion and development of tourism in the area. Are there packaging opportunities available that you can capitalize on? What about contests? Are you in the position to donate prizes in exchange for the promotion that will be generated? Does your chamber host media familiarization trips? If so, how can you make sure your product or service is added to the itinerary so that you can capitalize on the potential editorial exposure which could prove invaluable to your business?
With social media now taking its place on the front of the desk (instead of off the side), this might be an easy (and fun) way to gain an advantage over other businesses. Hopefully your chamber is well connected and engaged in social media, and if they are not, it’s time to ask them why not? Be sure to stay connected to the Enderby chamber’s tweets and Facebook posts, and chime in with your presence whenever the opportunity arises. Actively practicing this will ensure that your business is top of mind within your chamber’s online communities.
Generally speaking, chamber mandates today tend to be much more encompassing than days past. Although taking the microphone as the voice and leader of a strong business community is still the primary focus for most chambers, we are seeing a shift in the way we attempt to accomplish this. By being actively involved in community health and well-being, we are able to help ensure a business community of similar state. This is why we at the Enderby and District Chamber of Commerce continue to engage (and in some instances lead) organizations and initiatives that aid in the development and promotion of healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities.
Without a holistic approach to community development, we could never possibly achieve our primary business goals as mentioned above. So instead, we choose to actively engage in all aspects of our community, knowing that we will certainly get out of it, only what we truly put into it.
Darren Robinson is the executive director of the Enderby & District Chamber of Commerce.