Lessons to be Learned from State Chamber Membership

Local chambers have a decision to make each year when it comes to (joining or) renewing its membership with the state chamber.

chamber membership lessonsA member of the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook asked:

Turns out we aren’t members of our state chamber and haven’t been for 5 years. Just got off the phone to join up again. Anybody out there not a member of your state chamber?

When your chamber is evaluating state membership what goes into your decision?

It may be the same sort of value analysis that your potential members, and renewing members, consider.

What Local Chambers Can Learn from Considering State Membership

 

If you’ve ever examined why your chamber belongs to the state chamber of commerce, you’ve probably considered the following:

  • What’s in it for my chamber? Quite simply, what does state membership give your chamber and your chamber members? Do they offer programs, resources and/or learning materials for the cost of dues? Do they advise you on best practices? What would you lose if you gave up membership? Could you get those things elsewhere?
  • What’s in it for me? Some state chambers are great resources for local chamber job openings while others provide you with development opportunities. Can you name three things you get from state membership?
  • How am I treated when I have questions or need assistance? Customer/Member service is important. If you’ve sought their assistance, how have you been treated?  One chamber professional mentioned her dissatisfaction with member services kept her from renewing.
  • How do they communicate with me? Make a note of how the state chamber makes you aware of resources, services and the value they provide. What works for you? What doesn’t?
  • Is membership a hole you dump money into? It doesn’t matter how much value your state chamber may be providing, if you’re not taking advantage of it then it’s not valuable to you. After all, value is in the eyes of the member.
  • Is there a new sheriff in town? While we like to believe chambers are entities in and of themselves, sometimes the leader overshadows everything else. This can be true on the state’s end or the local. If you love your state leader, you may renew every year because of that person. If on the other hand, you’ve never experienced any value from state membership, you may take that bias with you at your next chamber. Leadership and experience matter to renewals.

Your members are evaluating you on the same questions. Consider your state membership (or lack thereof). What have you learned from it? Have you found:

  • Indifference leads to non-renewal quicker than vocal dislike does.
  • If you don’t know whether you’re a member or not, you probably won’t renew.
  • Your membership must provide you with something you can’t get elsewhere (or don’t have time to get).
  • You must be made aware of the opportunities and resources out there with membership.
  • If you are new to your chamber, did the state reach out to you?

Learning from your experience as a member can inspire you to change things with your chamber membership. Repeat what made a positive impression on you and learn from your state chamber’s weaknesses.

 

Guest post by Christina Green

“Tree Reflection” Image via Flickr by Nikos Koutoulas

 
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