This coming week is Valentine’s Day, a day associated with romantic love. But just as we honor all mothers on Mother’s Day–perhaps we should make it a tradition on Valentine’s Day to think of the people we care about. We could use Heart Day to share our feelings about those who impact our lives. For this reason, this article is for you. We hope perhaps you’ll bookmark it or print it out and refer to it on your challenging days.
As chamber pros, you work tirelessly to help businesses and make inroads into the economic development of your area. There are long, unpredictable hours where you’re always “on” and many times it’s a thankless job. But your work impacts the community in ways that may not be fully felt for years.
That’s why we thought–if you need to hear this–Valentine’s week is as good a time as any.
A Love Letter to the Chamber Professional
There is a person who bears the weight of the community’s prosperity on their shoulders without the fanfare and notoriety of a rockstar. The treasures and power of a king or queen are not at their disposal. They do not hold office and have a grand title that comes with a house or a driver. They are not a baron of industry sitting atop a pile of bitcoin.
But every day, they rise and make decisions based on the best outcomes for business. They work tirelessly to impact economic development. Some days this work is easy as they bring together opposing sides, and some days it wears them down and they wonder how they’ll ever do it again.
But they do. The following day and the next.
They are rarely met with cheers and appreciation. They do not have hundreds of staff catering to their whims or implementing their bold ideas. Instead, they are there every day rolling up their sleeves birthing the ideas and implementing them–requiring both the creativity and the drive to turn those thoughts into reality.
They are a sounding board for frustrated and emotionally drained business people. And must think of solutions when there don’t seem to be any good options.
As cheerleaders for the community, they must balance smart growth and the desire to retain the charm and history of what the area is known for. And they must give equal time to both sides understanding that they each have the best interests of the community in mind.
They must rail against infighting and drama donning peacekeeper’s hats more often than umpires, reminding everyone that a rising tide lifts all boats.
They must balance the needs of big and small, local and chain. Serving and representing all businesses while hearing from others that they favor one side. Like a parent, they become skilled in saying “you’re all my favorites” and meaning it.
When storms rip through the area or the community must say painful goodbyes, they are there to pick up the pieces.
They are charged with identifying and grooming future leaders ensuring all voices are represented. They must at once teach good leadership and demonstrate it in action.
Diplomacy and strategy could be tattoed across their hearts, as could advocacy and optimism.
No other job (outside of parent) could be charged with so much and impact so many.
Chamber pros are leaders, diplomats, cheerleaders, consultants, advocates, comedians, educators, salespeople, customer support, information specialists, marketers, developers, and friends.
With all the hats they wear, their heads sometimes grow heavy. But they get up every morning knowing the impact they have on the potential of their community…or they should.
But if you need to hear this, please know…