Welcome to this site about the roles and significance of chambers of commerce. These chambers, also known as business chambers, are non-profit organisations that represent the interests of the business community within their coverage area. They operate on both the local and national level. Their main purpose is to become a single powerful voice representing the needs of the business community. Their reach and influence cannot be matched by individual businesses.
Chamber of Commerce Membership: How Does It Work?
Every member of the chamber of commerce has to represent a business within the chamber’s coverage area. While this mostly involves owners, directors of larger corporations can also be members. To join, one usually applies (either online or by filling in a form) to the chamber’s leadership. Most chambers of commerce have tiered membership plans with basic, mid-range and premium membership plans. The costlier the plan, the more services and benefits your business will qualify for. Apart from paying the annual membership fee, each chamber of commerce has its own set of bylaws and a code of conduct that all members must adhere to.
The Functions of a Chamber of Commerce
While each organisation differs, some functions are standard for all chambers of commerce. They include:
Creating an Ideal Business Environment for Its Members
This is one of the primary functions of any chamber of commerce. They are supposed to be a single voice promoting the interests of the business community. To achieve this, they lobby against laws that would negatively impact business and support legislative efforts that would benefit them. These chambers also work hard to keep the tax rates within reasonable bounds. They are usually involved (directly or through lobbying) in the local budget-making process, promoting projects and infrastructure developments that would make it easier for them to do business.
Promoting Member Businesses
Chambers of commerce provide a platform for members to promote their businesses. Through regular events, members have the opportunity to gain exposure for their brand and products. Each chamber also maintains a directory of each member, and the products/services they offer, which is available to the public. Members also benefit from referrals from the chamber or from fellow members. Affordable advertising can be purchased on the chamber website and/or the chamber’s newsletter.
Providing Networking Opportunities
This is one of the biggest benefits of joining a chamber of commerce. As the old adage says: “Success can depend on who you know, not what you know”. Almost all chambers of commerce have regular events specifically to network between members. Through networking, members can find other members interested in their products or services. Networking also allows those who are inexperienced in business and entrepreneurship to get useful advice or even mentorship from the more experienced members. It also creates an opportunity for members to find business partners and investors.
Most competent chambers of commerce will host events specifically aimed at engaging the local community. This is an important function since most of the clients for local businesses will be from the immediate local community. Participating in these events allows members to meet with their clients (and potential clients) and better understand their needs and preferences. This is valuable insight that will help members fine-tune their strategic decisions to better serve their target market.
All the content on this website has one purpose – spreading awareness of the benefits of joining a chamber of commerce. Any business, however large or small, can reap significant rewards from entering a business chamber. This website will also include content that demystifies the role and purpose of business chambers. Some of the topics covered on this site include:
- The importance of networking.
- Events and activities hosted by business chambers.
- How business chambers lobby.