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Posted 6 years ago on · Permalink

How to Maximize the Value of your Board of Trade or Chamber of Commerce Membership

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Nathan MacDonald Communications Specialist

Joining your local board of trade or chamber of commerce can be one of the best business decisions you can make and like any investment, you want to get a good return on your investment (ROI). You’ve taken the plunge and paid your dues but what now? Here are some proven strategies for getting the most bang for your buck and making your membership work for you.

Show up

One can consider a gym membership as an apt analogy for a board of trade membership. You don’t get in shape by buying a gym membership and then sitting at home eating nachos. In order to get the ROI on that gym membership, you have to invest more than money; you have to invest the time and effort to build your muscles. The gym provides the space and the tools to do that, but the work is still up to you.
The same is true for a board or chamber. The organization can provide the tools and the space for you to grow your business, but the work is up to you.

Small business people are some of the busiest people around. They wear many hats at their companies and are putting in long hours putting out fires and dealing with the various emergencies of the day. It’s easy to forget that networking and business development isn’t about today’s business; it’s about making sure you have some tomorrow– that’s where showing up comes in.

Showing up isn’t limited to physical events, join your board or chamber’s online communities and join the conversation.

The oft quoted, albeit controversial, Woody Allen was right on the money when he said, “Showing up is 80% of life.”

Get involved

Being active in your community by volunteering with your board or chamber  is an integral and rewarding way to increase your profile and grow your business.

Many members have said that they started to get the most out of their memberships when they started thinking about what they could give to the organization and their fellow members.

Being community-minded serves the dual purpose of strengthening local institutions and expanding your network. It also enhances your reputation and your standing within the community.

So how can you best contribute? Perhaps you’re a good speaker or have some key knowledge to share and can facilitate an educational seminar or write a guest blog  for your fellow members.

Perhaps you can volunteer to put your skills to work on a board of trade committee.

Investing in a board of trade or chamber of commerce is more than just an investment in your business, it’s also an investment in your local community. A rising tide lifts all boats.

You get what you give

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the more you give, the more you get. Networking is about building relationships, so don’t expect to show up at one event and walk away with a fist full of sales or hot leads. That said, if you show up regularly and make authentic connections, people will refer you when the opportunity presents itself.

The same holds true for working on a committee. If you show yourself to be a competent and reliable volunteer who makes constructive contributions and follows through on commitments, people who haven’t even done business with you will feel more comfortable recommending your professional services to others.

Carefully review cost-saving opportunities

There are some key benefits of membership such as preferential rates on merchant services/credit card processing, access to a pooled group medical, dental and drug insurance plan, special rates on gasoline, office supplies home and auto insurance, online learning, member-to-member deals and more. It is worthwhile to take a careful look at what your local board or chamber offers and to take advantage of all of the savings that apply. Your chamber will leverage their numbers to negotiate savings on the items every business needs. Reducing your overhead through these exclusive offers is a great way to maximize your ROI.

Take advantage of sponsorship and advertising opportunities

Sponsoring events is an effective and affordable way to get your brand out in front of your fellow members. Typically, sponsorship will come with online and physical logo placement and often a brief speaking opportunity. Smart sponsors perfect their elevator pitch and make the most of that time on the mic.

In addition to event sponsorships, there are many other advertising opportunities to suit every budget. Advertising to a business audience is a great way to enhance your overall marketing strategy. Remember, all business people are also consumers so whether you’re B2B or B2C, it’s still worth the investment.

Read the emails and publications

Your local board of trade creates e-blasts and print publications to keep you in the loop about what matters to your business. Taking the time to read these can keep you abreast of changes to regulations with which you must comply as well as upcoming  board of trade or community events. If there’s a new savings program, it will likely be communicated to you via these channels. Moreover, your board or chamber  may ask where you stand on a divisive  policy issue that can affect your business. Keeping up to date by actually reading what they send you will allow you to seize the opportunities when they inevitably present themselves.


To conclude, joining your local board of trade or chamber of commerce is a time-tested way to grow your business and, indeed, to grow professionally. These organizations were built by and exist to serve businesses like yours and there wouldn’t be one in almost every jurisdiction large and small if they weren’t effective. That said, just like at the gym, membership is only the first step so make sure you put in the time in order to maximize your results.


Nathan MacDonald is the Communications Specialist at the Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade. If you are an Ajax-Pickering Board of Trade member with an idea for this blog, email him.