Your local chamber of commerce offers unique opportunities to network with other business owners and professionals in your community.

“Businesses choose to invest in the chamber because they are committed to safeguarding and advancing the interests of commerce,” says Kelly R. Hall, the CEO of Longview Chamber of Commerce in Longview, Texas. 

In addition, the local chamber of commerce is creating a favorable economic climate that’s crucial for businesses as it grants them the chance to not only pursue their aspirations but also flourish, says Hall.

“These enterprises recognize the power of collective action and shaping a lasting impact for future generations,” she adds.

What are some key benefits of joining a local chamber of commerce? 

When you join your local chamber of commerce, there are distinct advantages for business owners: 

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Networking opportunities

Sara Armstrong, vice president and managing director of federation relations and grassroots advocacy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says joining your local chamber gives you an instant network of fellow small business owners, community leaders, government officials, business prospects and more.

“These new connections can help your business gain exposure, credibility, and recognition, and access to those who can be helpful to you and your business,” Armstrong tells FOX Business.

Access to resources

Your local chamber has access to myriad resources to help small businesses, whether they are opening their doors for the first time or looking to grow and expand, says Armstrong.

“These resources range from trainings to one-on-one advice, to best practices solutions. Your local chamber is a great place to get the help small businesses need to thrive,” she continues.

Engagement in your community

Involvement in your local chamber, says Armstrong, allows you to demonstrate that you and your business are invested in the future of your community.

“Supporting your local chamber through membership allows them to strengthen the work they do to promote pro-business issues in your hometown which allows you to keep running your business in a business-friendly community,” adds Armstrong.

What can someone expect at local chamber of commerce networking events? 

Armstrong said you can expect to meet a lot of people like you.

“Networking events are open to all kinds of business owners and community leaders who are looking to meet potential leads and other businesses who could use their services,” Armstrong tells FOX Business.

Sometimes there is a speaker, other times it’s just a mix-and-mingle, she explains.

“Networking events occur most frequently during the early morning (think coffee and donuts) or in the evening (think wine and appetizers) so that you can focus on your business during working hours,” says Armstrong.  “Pick the type that works best for you and your schedule.”

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Such networking events are typically designed to foster connections and collaboration, says Cheryl Hanson, district manager of Insperity, a leading provider of human resources.

“Attendees can expect a friendly and inclusive atmosphere where people are encouraged to engage with each other,” says Hanson. “Events may include activities that facilitate networking, such as speed networking sessions, group discussions, or structured icebreaker activities.”

Also, these activities help individuals initiate conversations, learn about others’ businesses and establish connections more easily, she says.

“And don’t forget to bring business cards or be prepared to share contact information electronically,” Hanson tells FOX Business.

How can business leads be created and cultivated? 

To begin, Armstrong advises that you make sure you know your target market and concentrate on finding those leads first.

“Making the initial contact and then establishing a relationship helps build trust first,” she states. “Cultivating that relationship might take days, weeks, months or even years to turn into a business opportunity. Be prepared to listen and adjust to the changing needs of your business leads as well.”

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In addition, Hall, with the Longview Chamber of Commerce, says credibility is achieved by being a fellow member of the chamber when making business connections and leads.

“Chamber membership signifies a commitment to professionalism and community involvement,” Hall tells FOX Business. “Potential leads may perceive chamber members as trustworthy and reliable, leading to increased credibility and a higher likelihood of converting leads into customers.”

Additionally, she says, being part of the chamber provides networking opportunities with other businesses, potentially leading to mutually beneficial partnerships and referrals.

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