More often than I'd like to admit, I hear comments from Chamber of Commerce members who say, "The Chamber hasn't done anything for me." My initial reaction is to subdue a noticeable cringe or disapproving stare. My second reaction is to assess how this individual is contributing to his or her own cause.
It seems to me that many join the Chamber with the wrong impression. It's as if they view the Chamber as a momma bird who, after being given her Chamber dues, will go out and gather business, pre-masticate it, and finally regurgitate it into their little business mouths for consumption. Now, unless your Chamber is run by Alicia Silverstone, I don't see this happening anytime soon.
The reality is that the Chamber is not a momma bird, but rather an ecosystem from which your business can exist and thrive. Much like a natural ecosystem, the Chamber ecosystem has an interrelated and interdependent food chain that is necessary for each entity to exist. The big businesses can't exist without the small businesses. The small businesses can't exist without the workers from the big businesses. The occupational health clinics can't exist without the manufacturing plants. The manufacturing plants can't exist without the construction companies. The construction companies can't exist without the building supply companies. You see? Interdependence.
So, ideally, the Chamber's role is to build a self-sustaining ecosystem in which businesses can interact and support one another. This is why they only work with "Chamber-partners" and only allow sponsorships from "Chamber-partners". They want the ecosystem to support itself, which necessitates living and operating within the ecosystem.
Once you've lived in this ecosystem for a while, you might get to thinking, "I don't really need the Chamber anymore." Hold that thought. Ask yourself a few questions: 1) Have I fully taken advantage of the networking opportunities the Chamber has provided me? 2) If the Chamber were to cease its existence, how many new large-scale developments would arrive in the future? 3) How successful would my business be if other businesses in my ecosystem ceased to exist (remember...interdependence)? 4) Am I willing to play my small part in supporting the Chamber ecosystem in order to make sure it continues to thrive as a self-sustaining business generating ecosystem in which I am afforded many opportunities to succeed?
Remember, the Chamber is there to support you, but it will not feed you. You need to take advantage of the ecosystem they have created and make it work for you, not the other way around. Don't expect handouts. If you're not seeing results, first look in the mirror. Then, contact the Chamber and see how they can help. Our Chamber is full of hard working, helpful individuals who are willing to help those who are willing to help themselves. I know there are many others across the country who do the same.
So, take advantage of what the Chamber has to offer and see where it gets you. You might be surprised.
Source provided by LinkedIn.