Have you ever asked, “what exactly does a chamber do?” This question arises many times in conversation with members and potential members alike. So what does a chamber do? Do chambers focus on matchmaking businesses-to-businesses or highlighting education in various business related fields? Will a chamber provide committees and the opportunity to advance your visibility in the community?
Actually, all of the above. Chambers connect people by providing opportunities of engagement. Many members judge a chamber by the number of people who attend mixers or leads luncheons. However, the most successful members position themselves within activities as a resource to others, whenever and wherever possible. This secret ingredient flavors and seasons your chamber business.
Recently, while talking to a close friend and colleague, we discussed whether the membership in the chamber yielded any business to their company. Initially, I thought that the chamber failed because no direct member to member business occurred for this member. Then I spoke to another member to discuss the apparent lack of business the other experienced to determine if he experienced similar results. To which, his answer shocked and encouraged me.
He argued that the observation of the other was not accurate and that they had given each other leads and opportunities from which they both benefited. He went on to say that he would not have had those opportunities had it not have been for meeting through the chamber. So, what’s the answer then?
Think of the chamber as a gym. There’s an LA Fitness near my house for which I am a member. For nine months I paid my dues and for nine months I drove past it everyday on my way to the office. Everyday, I told myself “tomorrow I’ll hit the gym” and you know the rest, tomorrow did not come. Positioning myself under the bench press, or at the arm curl station, or on the tread mill did not happen. My muscles didn’t grow, my heart rate did not improve, I saw no immediate results to justify staying a member.
So, I called LA Fitness and told them that my membership wasn’t doing anything for me and that I didn’t think I wanted to continue being a member. Laughable, right? You and I both know it didn’t work because I did not take responsibility to go to the gym and make it work for me.
Recently, my good and dear friend, Dr. Gilles Lamarche wrote a new book titled, “The Art of Responsibility.” He will share his insights on this subject at a luncheon in October. However, from his book and by the comments of my other voice, I realized that the responsibility of the chamber is to create and offer opportunities and tools for members to use. Opportunities to position themselves for success. That is the chamber’s responsibility. If you’re a member, what’s your responsibility to your business and your investment? Think about it as I would love to hear your thoughts on how you might take responsibility in making our organization a successful, valuable and growing organization that works to serve as a resource to all of its members big or small.