Local Chamber of Commerce

In the last two weeks I have been a guest at two Chamber's in my county. I attended "referral group" meetings. I have a dear friend that had invited me and was there for support. I felt so out of my comfort zone but at the same time ecstatic at the opportunities within the Chamber. Check and see if your local Chamber has referral groups that meet because I think they are a gold mine to get to know other business owners on a more one on one level.
 

rsmanuel

New Member
I know how intimidating it can be sometimes to go to network meetings, but I absolutely agree that they can be a gold mine. While I have not started going to meetings for myself, I go and represent the CPA firm that I work for occasionally. We have gotten quite a few referrals that way. I can't recommend it enough!

Ronda
 

Kara_VA

New Member
Just to add my recent experience, I have been going to my local Chamber of Commerce and while it's been inspiring, certainly many like minded people, I'm not sure how to go about networking beyond the mindset of 'getting clients'. Many of those attending are small businesses looking for stronger connections with the larger organizations in the community not for further assistance from a solotrepreneur in virtual/business assistance such as myself. Does anyone have any special tips on the approach?
 
Sometimes it's not the ones in your actual group that you are networking too. I look at it as a time to get my name out there and build relationships. As the relationships grow those in the groups may know of someone else that is buried beneath a mountain of paperwork or lost in there bookkeeping and in need of some assistance. You never know where the opportunities are if you are not out there in the world letting people know you are available to help. I plan to volunteer where I can at the Chamber to also highlight my skill set. I've done quite a bit of volunteering for events and planning events over the years and love getting to know people. One thing I've learned over the years is people want to know you are available and willing to put in the time for the small stuff. Start with the small projects no matter how tedious they may seem and it will blossom. Good luck getting out there.
 

rsmanuel

New Member
At the networking group that my employer participates in, they bring several business cards for each member. If any of the members come across someone in their daily business that are looking for our type of services, they hand out our business card to the individual(s). It is a very effective tool!
 

JC-BS

New Member
I have had several people mention that I should get involved with Chamber of Commerce, but I am so intimidated. I know I have to suck it up and just do it, but other than lots of business cards do you have any other tips for these types of events?
 
I have not attended any of the big functions yet but definitely get involved in one of the small breakout groups. Ours has Women's group, referral groups, IT groups and several other ones. Go on to your local chamber site and check out all they have to offer. Start small, 20 person group, and then when you go to a big mixer you will know some people. Good luck, JC-BS.
 

rsmanuel

New Member
I have had several people mention that I should get involved with Chamber of Commerce, but I am so intimidated. I know I have to suck it up and just do it, but other than lots of business cards do you have any other tips for these types of events?
I agree that starting out with smaller groups are best. Just keep in mind that everyone there is a business owner, just like you, looking for leads on new clients and projects. Just be yourself and get to know them. Build relationships with them. People are often more willing to refer or do business with individuals they know and trust. You are all there to help one another! Just take a deep breath and jump in!
 

fresh-assist

New Member
I have not attended any of the big functions yet but definitely get involved in one of the small breakout groups. Ours has Women's group, referral groups, IT groups and several other ones. Go on to your local chamber site and check out all they have to offer. Start small, 20 person group, and then when you go to a big mixer you will know some people. Good luck, JC-BS.
That's a great idea - will go and look up my local chamber right now! Thanks for the advice
 

Mouthy

New Member
For years, I used to do quite a lot of in person networking at chamber of commerce events and such. The key is to remember is that unless someone asks you what you do or wants to get a detailed list of your services, it's purely social, and so you need not be intimidated or feel like you need to be selling yourself.

Yes, it's good to have a 5-second elevator spiel, but you can relax and just be yourself without worrying that you're in the spotlight.

What do you do when you want to buy a new car or find a new babysitter? You ask your friends and coworkers. When people need business services, they ask theirs. Getting to know folks and allowing them to get to know you is really all it's about.

Many times, people would forget what exactly my business did, but they knew I was a wiz with computers (I was a web designer at the time), so they would call and say, "Do you do any work on Macs or know about Outlook? I might have a project (or referral) for you," and I might not be able to help them, but they'd remember next time that I was the website lady in their Rolodex...and once they remembered, they'd send me all their website referrals.

Because I spent time talking to so many folks and becoming interested in them and vice-verse, I stayed top of mind for a lot of people, and they'd eventually remember what I did, and word of mouth referrals started to just come naturally. It doesn't even matter what it is you do, if people like you, they will call you when they need help or possible project work.

Another thing I did a LOT was connect other people together...because I was a busybody and talking to everyone. So whenever someone wanted to perform some task or had a question about something specific, I usually had an expert to refer to them. I did that a lot, actually, without sometimes even thinking too much about it.

PS - don't forget any expenses you put out for these over the year are a cost of doing business and you can (usually) itemize them under marketing.
 

harrysmith

New Member
Hello! Local chamber of commerce is a great place to get referrals. Basically, its mainly about connecting with other business enthusiasts in your locality but that connection can be converted into leads. You just have to be confident that you know your business very well. Don't get intimidated, intimidate them. Hand out your business card leaving a good impression.
 
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