Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chambers of Commerce: Not All The Same

I haven't talked very much about networking as a marketing tactic, but after this week I may need to reconsider!  For this week I was engaged in a networking conversation with a new business owner and a more experienced one and the subject of Chambers of Commerce arose.  Both the longer term business person and I had some experience with these entities, and our thoughts were amazingly parallel:

First, Chambers of Commerce have very different personalities.  One, in a given municipality may be relatively friendly to small business.  Another may be relatively unfriendly.

Second, Not every Chamber offers equally effective programs for small business networking.  One we have in these parts offers monthly get-togethers but I found them to be all about food and drink and entirely absent "shop talk".  Contrariwise, not all offer expos or B2B exposure events.

Third, Chambers price themselves in very different ways, and as a result many are incredibly expensive for very small businesses.  Be wary!  an entire ROI evaluation is needed to establish whether even "inexpensive" ones offer a good return.

Bottom line: use Chambers of Commerce with care, and take advantage of visitor or guest opportunities to size up friendliness, program strength and quality, and return on investment.  Talk about them with peers who may be able to share all of the pros and cons.  CofC is not for every small business, but there may be the right one for the right small business.

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