Remember the story of Jack and the Beanstalk?
Poor Jack trades his mom’s milk cow in for magic beans. When she tosses them out the window in a moment of rage against her son’s foolhardiness, they grow into a beanstalk. The beanstalk then leads him to a magical land in the clouds filled with treasures including the goose that lays the golden egg.
Well, chamber membership isn’t a magic bean.
Chamber execs know this. But often members assume that if they pay a couple hundred dollars and wait, their membership will lead them to the goose that lays the golden egg.
So, what do you do as a chamber pro to ensure that future members get excited about the chamber investment but don’t rely on it to produce any golden eggs unless they help make it happen? Here’s some advice from veteran chamber professionals on negotiating that tricky middle ground.
Membership Is Not a Magic Bean
Kelly Flannery and the crew at the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce ensure members’ expectations are set from the beginning. She says they tell prospects, “The chamber is here to be a resource and provide opportunities for you to grow your business through education, networking, advocacy, etc. but you (the member) must do the work for it to be successful.”
At the Stayton Sublimity Chamber in Oregon, Carmelle Bielenberg says that she lets potential and new members know that a financial investment in the chamber does not guarantee success. She reminds them, “It’s about being “top of mind.” You get out what you put in. Business success requires relationship building, which means that you need to be visible, available, approachable. Those businesses who plug into the opportunities we offer, grow roots and survive. Those who don’t, don’t. We are just the conduit of opportunities.”
A “conduit for opportunities” is a lot more magical in the long term than a pile of beans. Unless you’re referring to coffee beans, which the chamber can provide in liquid form.
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