Chambers of commerce have for years been the backbone of many small communities right along with large communities. Why? They work. They allow many of the same business categories to join them to form alliances that work well together and to give support to each other. Sound familiar? Of course, LeTip is very similar in nature, but we only allow one category per chapter. We promote exclusivity so a member has no competition within the chapter.
Attending chamber meetings and participating is a perfect way to have chamber members join your chapter. As a chamber member only, they must share the opportunities with many who hold the same category. They must learn what the difference is and why they should be joining you and LeTip. That is not the only reason, but it is one that is very compelling when you talk about growing your business. They now have a word of mouth sales force dedicated to just their needs and not the needs of others in the same category
Chamber members want loyalty in return. Should you belong to a chamber? YES! It is important to give back to your community as well as gain business from it. When you are a member of both you are giving back and reaping the benefits. No one ever gets business without giving business. A chamber is a perfect place to achieve this.
Don’t just go to a chamber meeting and try to select those you think would be great within your chapter. Go with your heart open and see how you could actually give to the chamber with great advice, sharing tips you have built over the years about your industry, and even do some of the work. Members of the chamber will trust you so much more when you are actively involved. What does this produce? Loyalty, trust, and a reason to do business with you. You become one of them and they in turn look at what you are doing and want to belong. It truly is a win-win situation that goes both ways and gives back in spades.
When attending a chamber meeting be cognizant of what you are there for. Building relationships is always the first step to any business deal. Ask pertinent questions about the person you are speaking to. Make it about them. Everyone likes to tell you what they do and how it is going. Listen carefully and be fully engaged in the conversation. Never spend more than 5 minutes with any one person or you will never get around to meet the extraordinary people who are in the room. When asking questions that really get them going, remember what they have said. When you leave talking to them make a note or two on the back of their business card or on a 3×5 card you should carry in your pocket. Place something about the conversation on the card that you will remember long after you have left the meeting or mixer. I rate everyone I meet, if possible, at the time I meet them. Those I want to work with later get a rating of 6 or higher. Those that I want to have in my database have a rating of 1 to 5. The ratings are good and the key is to follow up immediately with those you want to work with.
The next day or even that evening, if you have an opportunity, is the perfect time to follow up. I always follow up with an email then followed by a phone call. I try to make it sound as if they are the most important person to me and to show that I put down in the email something we talked about or had in common. It will always reflect something about them that I appreciate. After all, they want to hear you were listening. It creates almost instant trust. Now do your thing. Invite them for coffee and a talk or lunch and a discussion on how you can help each other. You can even invite them to your chapter meeting because they need to see it before they believe it right?
Every opportunity you have to be among the chamber members means more exposure for you and your business. Join them for ribbon-cutting ceremonies and their mixers. Take an active part in doing something that you enjoy to really be recognized for your contribution back to the community. Networking and chambers work hand in hand, and I always encourage entire chapters not just individuals to participate within their local chamber. We have to join forces to be stronger, better, and more helpful to each other. LeTip like a chamber of commerce just works! Make it work for you and your chapter. It pays off.
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