In assessing today’s marketplace, you realize that you must improve your visibility and credibility. You’ve made the important decision to join the Chamber of Commerce. How can you make sure your investment of time, money and effort pays off? Check out these proven, practical tactics.
- Research the Chamber Directory. Scan the member directory, using a highlighter, to identify those companies and/or people who are your highest-value contacts or prospects. This simple act will allow you to immediately focus your attention and efforts to the right members, accelerating your chances of maximizing your attendance at events.
- Meet with Chamber executives. Make it a point to schedule a coffee or lunch (at your cost) with the top Chamber of Commerce executive or volunteer leader (or both). During this meeting, invest time to discover the Chamber’s mandate, main issues and needs. Then position yourself, your company and your products/services to support or strengthen the Chamber. This will separate you from your competitors and highlight your professionalism and integrity.
- Schedule Chamber events. The mainstay of leveraging your Chamber of Commerce membership is attending events. Check the annual Chamber event calendar and lock in these important dates. Make it a priority to attend all events, especially early in your membership. When others become aware you are serious about investing in the Chamber, they will share their contacts and colleagues. Fully 75% of your success with the Chamber of Commerce rests with this tactic.
- Arrive early. Most quality networking occurs prior to an event. Arriving early means you will meet more people and you can position yourself as a one-person welcoming committee. Also, this is an ideal time to connect with Chamber staff required to be at the event. These invaluable resources will share information and assist in meeting the right people. This little-used tactic has incredible potential to help you achieve more and better results.
- Collect business cards. Develop the discipline of asking for business cards. This is one of the most misunderstood issues about networking. By getting the other person’s contact information, you have control. Get into the habit of asking “Can I get your card?” It’s expected (yet rarely done), others will be honored you asked and you will have all the information you need to follow up, if you so choose.
- Have a product positioning statement. Help other members help you by having a short statement that identifies your target market, the top benefit of your product/service and the result of doing business with you. Prepare and practice delivering this important statement until you can do it naturally. Use it in every conversation. Remember, others will forget from one meeting to the next.
- Follow up with contacts. Fully 90% of professionals admit they don’t follow up as well as they could or should. Connecting at a Chamber of Commerce event is the ignition point of a relationship. Following up with a new connection within 48 hours of meeting is not only a good idea, it is essential if you want to move the relationship forward. Chamber events create contact, your job is to link into the relationship process by following up.
- Contribute value. Most networking and event contacts are quickly forgotten. Every once in a while, however, we connect with someone who makes a significant impact on us through their sincere efforts on our behalf. Be that person. Rather than using Chamber of Commerce events to prospect, see each new member contact as an opportunity to contribute. When others become aware of your sincerity and compassion, they will remember you and work on your behalf. This has been my business and life philosophy. Trust me, it works.
- Think long term. Some Chamber of Commerce members, especially new arrivals, expect short term results. There is no question other members may express interest, but more often than not, they will require more than a cursory overview of your product or service to make an investment. Rather than finding fault with this reality, seek to delay your expectations of personal gain. Instead, work on building long term relationships. These powerful resources will supply repeated results that will grow over time.
- Measure results. Investing in a Chamber of Commerce is, above all, a business investment. As such, there is a requirement that it be managed effectively and produce tangible outcomes. Establishing specific objectives that are time-specific will help manage and maximize your Chamber of Commerce investment. Review them on a quarterly, monthly and weekly basis. This will allow you to monitor your progress and motivate you to achieve even more success.
Michael J Hughes, North America’s Networking Guru specializes in helping professionals increase results by improving their ability to maximize relationships. He has done extensive research on and is a specialist in, utilizing networking as a business strategy.His client list includes names like Dell, Royal Bank, Sales & Marketing Executives International, Sunlife, Workopolis and the University of Ottawa’s Telfer EMBA program. Michael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org