December 14, 2017
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Chamber Update

Linda Zahn
Linda Zahn's picture
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December 5, 2017

The concept of a chamber of commerce can be traced back to 1599. At that time, the term “chamber of commerce” first appeared in Marseille, France. Chambers provided traders, merchants, craftsmen and industrialists a forum for discussing and acting on issues facing the business community. Today, chambers of commerce can be found in almost every country in the world. Today’s chambers are often a major part of the community they serve, and their influence extends into education, planning and tourism.

Anne Arundel County has several chambers that provide services and support to their member businesses. The benefits extend to the realm of education, economic development and business advocacy.

Some people have a limited understanding of the chamber of commerce and what it can do to benefit businesses and the community the chamber serves. Let me share some of the benefits of chamber membership.

The chamber should not be confused with the Better Business Bureau, which represents the interests of both consumers and businesses alike. A chamber of commerce is solely devoted to the promotion of business. Starting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and moving down to state chambers, there are organizations at the regional level and local level. Chambers work with legislators to voice any concerns the business community has about pending legislation. On the other hand, the chamber helps educate businesses about legislation so that the members can contact their legislators with their concerns.

Chambers are great for business promotion. Trade fairs, expos and events where businesses can represent themselves to other businesses and/or the community are a real benefit of membership. Whether it’s a health fair, an event to highlight shopping local, a job fair or a trade fair, it’s a place to exhibit your products and services to potential clients and customers.

Networking is sometimes an overused term, but it’s the bread and butter for many businesses that rely on business-to-business contacts. While chambers of commerce aren’t the only networking organizations, they do have the benefit of pulling their members together in many creative ways, whether it’s a breakfast, lunch or after-hours event. Generating an environment to produce leads for other members is one of the greatest benefits these organizations can offer.

Chambers of commerce provide valuable information. Programs that provide information and training are usually provided on a regular basis. Seminars, big and small, are often marketed to members at an affordable fee and it’s one more opportunity for learning and discussion with peers.

Many chambers offer member discounts, or money-saving programs to help their members keep costs in check. Chambers publish directories both in print and online. Chamber members are listed in an annually updated directory that’s provided to members for free — and sometimes to the community depending on the preference of the chamber. It’s yet another way to find the businesses you’re looking for if you’re a consumer and a great place to find leads.

Many chambers get involved in their communities. There are parades sponsored by the chamber of commerce, tree lightings, charitable activities and more. For those interested in community involvement, there are plenty of opportunities.

 

The real benefits of chamber membership are experienced with active membership. Membership can be the best tool in your “business toolbox.” Consider giving it a try and join your chamber of commerce.


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