The Value of Membership in Your Local Chamber of Commerce

The Value of Membership in Your Local Chamber of Commerce

Local chambers of commerce are organized for the express purpose of providing benefits to local businesses, from sole proprietors to international corporations.  Their missions ordinarily include community involvement, legislative advocacy, providing business resources, and marketing.  They typically have four basic ongoing committees: membership, legislative, networking events, and professional development, as well as various others depending on interest.  Bormel, Grice and Huyett, P.A. has board representation with the Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce (formerly Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber), the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce, and participates with the Howard County and Hispanic Chambers.  Read more to find out what chamber membership can do for you.

Membership:

Each chamber will hold an orientation for new members to meet members of the board and committee chairs, to detail the benefits of membership, and to discuss how the new business member can get involved. The new member will be listed in the chamber’s directory of local businesses, with the business’ address, telephone number, contact name and a description of the products and/or services the business offers.  This free business promotion can bring in new business referrals. The directory may be in print, but are now more often on the chamber’s website.   The chamber office will offer community services, including maps, business referrals, tourist information and sponsorship of community events.  They provide information such as economic data, demographic information, and regional data useful in making business decisions. They ordinarily produce a periodic newsletter emailed to members, keeping them updated on events and other information.  They often encourage members to provide discounts to fellow members and provide money-saving co-ops and energy programs. Showing the seal of the chamber of commerce gives you credibility of membership. Customers know that you are an active part of the business community.

Legislative:

The chamber of commerce provides a link to local and state elected officials on issues of concern to businesses. They provide advocacy, connections, and access to timely information to advance the growth and success of the business community.  Local political leaders will address the chamber on legislative actions taken at recent sessions, and also on topics scheduled for continuing discussion.  Actions affecting wage and hour law, zoning, transportation, housing and the environment affect businesses and their effects should be communicated to persons influencing those decisions.  Members of the legislative committee will pass on concerns of individual businesses to the appropriate level of local, county or state government.  Small businesses together are represented in numbers, giving them greater influence than they would have individually. When politicians say they are responding to the needs of business, they are talking about the chambers of commerce.

Events:

The chamber of commerce provides opportunities for members to be involved with, and making a difference by, serving on various committees or volunteering throughout the year.  They providing networking, information, and growth resources to all sizes and types of businesses, agencies, institutions and organizations. They create marketing and networking opportunities for members by sponsoring business showcase events, networking mixers, business awards and recognition programs, and other community events. Events are planned and staffed by chamber members, volunteering and working together to connect businesses with potential customers, or to benefit a local charity or a chamber scholarship, or to provide activities at local events.  Golf tournaments, restaurant showcases, and local fairs are frequently organized by the local chamber to connect business with the public.  Proceeds benefit specific recipients, but the businesses are receiving the benefit of exclusive marketing. Some chambers provide an economic forecast through a local economist. Networking events are geared more toward connecting chamber members to mutually grow business. When you encounter a chamber member business to use their product or services, you already know the owner, and the owner already knows you, and will be using your product or service in the future.  This is how you connect, share ideas, and form valuable relationships.

Professional Development:

The chamber of commerce provides workshops on a variety of topics to build your business and professional skills. You can take a class on the latest small business software, learn how do to marketing presentations, work on your elevator speech, and learn to better account for your finances.  You can learn about mitigating risk, what insurance you need, and how to invest.  Many chambers have a separate committee for women in business, to address the particular needs of women and address their role in the business world.  Chamber members share their secrets and their best advice.  They will share their worst mistakes and their best triumphs.  The most knowledgeable person in business is the one who has tried it before, and is willing to help you through it. Your knowledge is probably quite valuable to another chamber member. Increase your connections.  Create opportunities.  Contribute to an environment where all businesses can thrive.

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The Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington has worked with Bormel, Grice & Huyett, P.A., since 1988. Their knowledge of the arts and the arts community make their services invaluable. They can translate accounting terminology into a comprehensive language. For many organizations, the accounting firm of Bormel, Grice & Huyett provides the financial "information bridge." We whole-heartedly recommend Bormel, Grice & Huyett, excellent accountants who care about our arts organizations.
Jennifer Cover Payne, Executive Director, Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington

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