When you own your own business, you can never discount the value of networking with others. Your business will grow by leaps and bounds when you connect with others in your field and in your local area. A lot of attention has been paid in recent years to networking online, but you shouldn’t limit your networking activities to your web browser. Branching out to your local community and meeting with business owners in real life can help you in several different ways.
- The chamber opens you up to a wider variety of business contacts.Sometimes when you are very focused on your industry you neglect to reach out and work with professionals in other industries. To put it simply, you might develop blinders and miss out on opportunities that may be right there in your community. Since many chamber events are not industry specific, you have the opportunity to meet and mingle with a variety of professionals. For example, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce holds Annual CityBeat Breakfast events and a CityGolf event that allow all members to participate (http://www.sfchamber.com/eventsprogs/).
- Being listed in the chamber’s directory can help bring in new business.Besides meeting with other local business owners, membership in a chamber of commerce will earn you a listing in their directory. The directory is searchable by other professionals and the general population as well. In addition, the listing is placed online and will appear when people search for your company’s name in the search engines. Sacramento’s Chamber of Commerce business listings (http://www.metrochamber.org/) result in more than one million referrals annually, according to their website.
- The chamber of commerce offers education opportunities.Most local chambers run weekly, monthly or yearly workshops that provide education on a variety of different topics. You can find general business training that will help you manage your business more efficiently, specific industry events that will help educate you on new trends in your field and tutorial workshops that will assist you with understanding technology relevant to your business.
- The chamber may offer you an opportunity for spreading your message.There are several opportunities for spreading your business message with a local chamber of commerce. Once you’ve established your membership and grown your list of contacts, you can submit articles the chamber newsletter (normally published on a weekly or monthly basis). You may also have the opportunity to create a workshop that educates other members. For example, if you are an SEO consultant you can create a presentation that informs members of simple ways they can optimize their websites.
- The chamber provides representation for your company and others.As a member of the chamber, you have an instant advocate in the state and local governments. Local chamber of commerce branches keep their members abreast of important government issues that affect business and act as their supporter.
Research Analyst, Cloud Virtual Office
Courtney’s research focuses on tracking emerging business trends and best practices – with an emphasis on how they affect business operations, technology, and virtual office infrastructure.