Chamber event crashers aka nonjoiners. You know the people who attend chamber events free as nonmembers? You assume they’ll join and yet they keep showing up without a membership check in sight.
What do you do about them?
Let them stay? Have a conversation about expectations? Revoke the welcome mat?
What if you stopped looking at them as interlopers at all?
That’s what one chamber is doing and it’s changing the way people view the chamber from a mere membership organization to a champion of community.
Welcome Everyone and Watch Membership Skyrocket
Some things are easy to change in the chamber, a logo for instance. Make the switch, do a little rebranding, and you’re done. Then there are the deeper chamber philosophical changes like moving towards a model of thinking that makes everyone in your community a member of the chamber.
That’s exactly what the Gardner Edgerton Chamber of Commerce does. While many chambers are dealing with keeping nonmembers out, Gardner not only invites them in, it has no limits on how often they can attend events.
They have adopted an open door policy embracing everyone. Sure, they’re still having conversations about membership and joining, but they see value in making sure everyone feels included and can “try out” membership as long as they’d like.
President and CEO Jason Camis shares, “We have a very different take on this than most. We encourage people to come as much and as often as they can, regardless if they are members or not. Of course, we ask them to join when the time is right, but why would we want to limit people from attending? The members who host (and even those who don’t) didn’t join saying, ‘I only want to do business with other members.’ They want us to help them grow their business and nonmembers are just as important. To combat this we do everything we can to not sell attending events as a benefit because you can do that anywhere, anytime nowadays. And I’ve never had a member complain that a nonmember attended something.”
Are you ready to make this switch in the way you see membership, from chamber event crashers to a larger membership community? Or do you expect someone to join after 1-2 events? Add your comments here.
A must read for all Chamber Professionals...