Should I Get Involved In A Chamber of Commerce?

When starting a business there are a few fundamentals you need to understand. You have to understand supply and demand, operations, cash flow, marketing and service. But where does someone get plugged into the local small business market when they are just starting out? The Northwest Suburbs of Chicago is a big place! This is a great question for people that are looking to start their own business, or are moving their business to a new location.

Stay Away From Chambers?

When I first started my business I was told to stay away from business chambers. I don’t really recall why, but something to the effect they were a “waste of time” or something. As a result, I held off getting connected to my local chamber of commerce for a while until I was running out of avenues to build my network. Thinking back, I think I took my advice from the wrong people. I’m pretty sure these people were actually my competition and probably didn’t want me to infiltrate in on their territory.

I came into contact with the local Elgin Chamber of Commerce through a leadership program they offered. The Elgin Area Leadership Academy was a 9 month program that provided leadership training, networking and a excellent overview of city services with a group of classmates. Through the Elgin Chamber, I learned the power of networking and became part of the chamber over the next year. Since then, I have also joined the Northern Kane County Chamber of Commerce, which covers the span of East/West Dundee, Gilberts, Huntley, Algonquin and Capentersville. I also joined a referral networking group that meets every week to connect, grow and share referrals. I have to admit, being connected with both chambers have been well worth the investment. I have been able to gain exposure for my business, establish business relationships and gain new clients through being a part of the local chamber. The local chamber also keeps me up to date on news, events and business growth opportunities in my region.

From this standpoint, I would highly recommend being a part of a local chamber provided they are reasonably priced for membership and have a strong, active community. I would, even more so, recommend you get connected to a strong, active referral or networking group. Networking groups can be a long term source of new leads. The key is building strong partnerships in the group and being faithful to provide great products and services.

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Russell is the founder and owner of Severity Design. Severity Design is a digital marketing studio located in Elgin, Illinois, a Northwest Suburb of Chicago. We help small businesses get the word out and gain attention.
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