8 mistakes advisors make when joining a Chamber of Commerce

There are successful business people who get business from their chamber membership. Here's how.

You can get business from joining the Chamber of Commerce. These tips can help. (Photo: Shutterstock)

“Sure, I joined the chamber, but I never got any business.” How many times have you heard another advisor say it? It’s probably because they made one of these eight mistakes.

1.      They picked the wrong chamber.  They assumed “The chamber” means there’s only one.  Many cities have a flagship chamber plus several smaller, independent ones in the suburbs.  Sometimes it’s the West Side Chamber, North Side Chamber, etc.

Instead:  Don’t join the one containing 51 other insurance firms, financial services firms and banks.  Look at the member directory to find two pieces of useful information: Overall number of members and the number of competitors.

2.       They didn’t use their cultural advantage.  Most chambers are geographic. The title makes it obvious.  Big cities often have African American, Asian, Hispanic and Indian chambers.

Instead:  Research local cultural chambers. If that’s your background, you have an opportunity to meet others from similar backgrounds.

3.      They didn’t show up.  Think about the scene in movies when the airline pilot passes out and a flight attendant asks: “Does anyone here know how to fly a plane?”  Advisors assume being listed in the member directory will bring people beating a path to their door.

Instead:  Show up.  People do business with people they know and like.

4.      They treated it as a 24/7 networking event, then complained.  They did show up!  Everyone they met got their elevator speech.  The other person delivered theirs in return. They complained every time they met someone, that person was trying to sell them something.

Instead:  Don’t pitch everyone for business.  Get to know them as people first, identifying interests in common.

5.      They never met the movers and shakers.  They attended luncheons, but couldn’t find the major business owners who serve as officers and directors.  They only met people in similar jobs to their own, not the well-photographed leaders.

Instead:  The movers and shakers are “behind the curtain” doing committee work and volunteering.  They know each other because they all help out.  There’s truth to the saying “You get out what you put in.”

6.      They volunteered, then disappointed.  They solved the problem above by signing up for a couple of committees. They raised their hand, accepted responsibility for projects and then didn’t do anything. They wonder why people look at them funny.

Instead:  Only volunteer for something you intend to do.  Under-promise and over-deliver.

7.      They missed opportunities.  They don’t read the newsletter, so they didn’t see the ads run by members. They didn’t see the industry specific columns members write. They didn’t see the schedule listing workshops put on by members for other members.

Instead:  Ask yourself:  “How can I raise my visibility?”  Also ask: “Once I meet a person, what’s the path to becoming a client?”  Review the website.  Learn about opportunities to get your name out there.

8.      They kept their hand on their wallet.  They attended the free stuff, but drew the line at spending any money to attend paid events or fundraisers. They came across as someone who is only here for what they can get out of it.

Instead:  Give yourself a budget to attend events and meet people in a less hectic atmosphere.  Sponsor or co-sponsor occasionally.

There are successful business people who get business from their chamber membership.  Often, it’s because they position themselves as a “go to” person.  It all starts with raising your visibility.

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. He provides HNW client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be found on Amazon.

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