A Chamber of Commerce is an independent local business network with the common goal of ensuring local companies grow and prosper. Some people argue that joining one is essential for your business to reach its optimum potential. As with any organisation there are pros and cons to joining which need to be weighed up based on your business requirements:
Your local Chamber of Commerce increases your opportunity to network with other like-minded businesses. This is essential in achieving business growth, creating new opportunities, finding excellent candidates for recruitment and connecting with key influencers in your industry. You will also expand your contacts and connect with local professionals who are also looking for new opportunities. When networking, your business will stay ahead of trends and be able to tackle problems by gaining other experienced people's perspectives.
Increase Your Company's Exposure
If your business is fairly unknown, joining the local Chamber of Commerce is an excellent way to increase brand awareness. Communications such as the newsletter and magazine will list your business as a new member increasing your visibility amongst other members.
Gives Credibility to Your Business
Being a member improves people's perception of your business as being reputable, successful and offering quality products/services. According to a research study by The Shapiro Group, Inc. and Market Street Services, when consumers know a business is part of a Chamber of Commerce they are 44% more likely to think favourably of it and 63% are more likely to buy products/services from it.
Access to Other Credible Businesses
Jo Preihs from Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce says that "By being part of an accredited Chamber of Commerce, you not only have access to hundreds of potential clients in your local area, but also a vast network of businesses across the world. The Chamber of Commerce network spans over 40 high growth and emerging markets and can offer practical support and help in all aspects of your business journey."
There are fees to pay when joining a Chamber of Commerce, which can deter some businesses, especially growing start-ups with little venture capital. Some companies have to weigh up the costs with the benefits of joining this type of organisation.
Face to Face with Competitors
A Chamber of Commerce can involve working together with other businesses to benefit the local community. This may result in you having to work with your biggest competitor, seeing them at events or even sitting next to them at a meeting. If this makes you uncomfortable or feel intimidated, then being part of this organisation may not be for you.
Joining a Chamber of Commerce will not solve all of your company's problems. Being a member requires some time and effort to reap the benefits. You can't pay the fees and just expect to gain new clients. Attending events, networking with other members and being active within the organisation is essential.
Jo Preihs from Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce also says that "Like any membership organisation, the benefits are there but do require you to take active steps in order to make the most of them. At Greater Manchester Chamber, we have a team of account managers who work proactively to ensure our members use their membership and get the most value they can. More information about our Chamber can be found here: www.gmchamber.co.uk. From outside Greater Manchester, visit http://www.britishchambers.org.uk/ to find the Chamber nearest to you."
Are you a member of a Chamber of Commerce? What do you think the pros and cons are of being a member? Tweet us and tell us your experiences @OregaOffices!