Why Networking Works - Chambers of Commerce
With today’s buzz about Facebook or LinkedIn, some companies put traditional networking on the back burner. You may not hear as much about your local Chamber of Commerce as you did years ago, but they are still very relevant in our current business world. How can you make your local Chamber of Commerce work for you?
The first Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1599 in Marseille, France. In 1768, the New York City Chamber was the first founded in the United States. Membership can range from a few businesses to hundreds of thousands. Chambers of Commerce are not part of the government, but they can lobby to get favorable business laws passed.
Chamber events can be great networking opportunities. Members can meet and greet each other at their regularly scheduled “mixers”. Most are open to the public so be sure to bring plenty of business cards. Have a goal in mind before you arrive. For example, you may want to get business cards from 5 potential customers and from 2 potential partners who can help you with a certain aspect of your business.
If you enjoy speaking, why not volunteer to do a presentation at your local Chamber? You are almost guaranteed to meet more people. Do you enjoy writing? You can also volunteer to write articles for your Chamber newsletter.
You will more than likely meet other sales people at any Chamber event. Find others outside your industry and now you have a referral group. You can exchange leads and even bounce ideas off one another. To start, you really only need to meet one other sales person and you have a mini referral group that can continue to grow.
One very important benefit of being a Chamber member is their directory. The names of each member are updated annually. Wouldn’t you rather purchase from someone who is a member of the same Chamber you are a member of? Other businesses likely feel the same way. The directory can also be used as a list of potential customers.
People are social by nature and networking is an essential part of any marketing plan. Networking is especially beneficial for B2B businesses that do not have customers constantly coming through the front door. There is not a “one size fits all” approach to networking and it is up to you to decide on the perfect balance.
Do you have any success stories from your local Chamber of Commerce?