Connecting With Your Local Community through a Chamber of Commerce
Your local Chamber of Commerce is an excellent place to start your local business networking. Chamber of Commerce’s sponsor many direct and indirect business networking events. The very purpose of a Chamber is to make their local community a better place for business. Here are top 5 insider tips on how to get the most business networking benefits from your local Chamber of Commerce.
#1 Join Groups and Subgroups
Chambers of Commerce are nonprofit organizations that rely on their members for many of the services that they provide. There are always groups and sub-groups that need help. The key is to actually help, not just join a group. You will quickly be noticed and become an insider by actively participating in a group. There is no faster way to open doors and build up credibility for your business networking.
#2 Support Other Businesses Networking Events
Scratch their back and they will scratch yours. Chambers of Commerce sponsor open houses and networking mixers at various business locations over the course of a year. You want to attend these events. First, the host or hostess will be grateful for your support. Second, be prepared to network so you can make solid connections, meet new friends, and follow-up for potential business opportunities.
#3 – Have a Memorable USP and Deliver it!
When attending Chamber events you will almost always meet new people. You need to have a crisp, effective, memorable USP (Unique Selling Proposition) also called an Elevator Pitch. Do not be afraid to be memorable. When the Chamber hosts business networking events you may get a chance to pitch your USP to the entire group. Also, if you volunteer with the Chamber on a group or committee, you will more often get to give your USP. Lastly, new members are almost always introduced at Chamber Events and given a minute to say who they are… so get prepared!
#4 – Follow-Up Then Follow-Up Again
The key to any business networking is follow-up. You made a great first impression with your USP. You wowed them with your professional business cards. Great but remember, you seal the relationship by following up. Send your key contacts a personalized hand written note. You can send the rest an email, but make that personal as well. Sending a hand written card will simply make you stand out and is a conversation starter for the next time you see the person. Another part of follow-up is creating connections. Offer them some business help or give them the contact of someone who might lead to business for them!
#5 – Follow Your New Friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Etc.
Many Chambers of Commerce have Facebook pages and their members will be connected to those pages. Watch the Facebook interactions of people you have connected with and pick and choose who you want to friend – you don’t want to seem too assertive. Keep in mind that Facebook might be a place of personal connections only for some people. If someone is posting about their business or seems to be connected with other business people in the community, it is probably safe to friend them. LinkedIn and Twitter are much more acceptable places to connect for business networking. However, Facebook will give you more social insights on your new friends which can be valuable for ice breakers during future networking meetings.
How to Find Other Great Local Networking Meetings
Our next article is about Targeting your Business Sector directly. We will give you one hint. Join Meetup.com and start searching for events in your area. This will be good practice before we meet again. We will discuss how to find or create meet-ups with Realtors, Home Stagers, Interior Designers, and Home Renovators.