Why, after more than 400 years, the Chamber model still works
Let’s call networking what it actually is: connecting. Strategically, many business owners see networking as strictly a means to generate referrals. One of the benefits of belonging to our chamber is that, unlike many other networking groups, we don’t restrict participation based on gender, industry type or geographical location. What you will discover when you attend one of our events, is that our members are friendly, interested and most of all, very willing to support another person doing business on the Saanich Peninsula.
One of the referral groups I have been asked to promote to our members is Business Networking International (BNI). Being a proud supporter of chambers of commerce for many years, I thought it worthwhile to consider how our two organizations differ. BNI members join with the expectation that their participation in weekly meetings will generate referrals that convert to actual business.
So how are we different? First off, chamber membership is much less expensive and our benefits go well beyond referrals. Your membership payments support initiatives that exclusively benefit our community. We are continually evolving to increase the value to members. Did you know that we certify documents for goods being exported? Or that we offer a discounted Panorama Employee Wellness Pass for small businesses? Even as a solo entrepreneur, our Chambers of Commerce group insurance plan has coverage options. Do you or one of your employees wear glasses or contacts? We have a member discount for that too. Soon we will be offering discounted home insurance. All this and more, including networking and the opportunity to expand your client list, is available to you through chamber membership.
I will leave you with this recent evaluation from one of our members, who, because he had not actively participated in any of our events concluded that he was not getting benefit from his membership and had decided not to renew. Then he asked his new customers how they had heard about him and discovered that they had learned about his business from our online Member Directory. Not surprisingly, he renewed. Like this member, you may not fully appreciate the ways in which your membership is working for you, but it always is.