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Chamber benefits without participation

Published: Tuesday, April 30, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The Western Association of Chamber Executives conducted a survey of nonchamber member businesses where 68 percent of respondents indicated they haven’t joined the chamber because they don’t have time to participate.

There is definitely a preconceived idea that to get benefit from a chamber you have to be actively involved. The survey participants weren’t given a sales pitch as part of the study, so why do they think they have to participate?

Here’s why: Participation, as defined by attending meetings and events, is so ingrained in the image of chambers of commerce that this was the number one reason for not joining. This is a problem for chambers of commerce (and other member based organizations) that needs to be addressed.

This survey confirmed my own observations that the majority of our own chamber members do not participate in one thing. Now, we go about saying they should get involved because it’s good for business exposure, good for the community, whatever the case may be. Events do help fund the operations and goals of the chamber during the year, and most businesses probably should be involved, but don’t have to be involved to get a real benefit from the chamber.

Sandy Oslance, president of the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills chamber, and I were talking at the recent Entrepreneur U event and we discussed involvement by our members in the activities and events. I told her that I actually stood in front of group of 30 new members recently and pointed out that they probably wouldn’t do a thing to be actively involved and if they did well, that’s just icing on the cake. I then showed them a perfect example of how not being an active member (for 30 years no less) of the chamber actually benefited that business.

According to the WACE, here’s what the best chambers do: Strengthen the local economy; represent business interests with governments; take political action and develop leaders; promote the community; and provide networking (relationship building) opportunities.

I can only speak for our chamber, but that is the same road we’ve been heading down. We also have quantified the value of a basic membership and just that by itself – the lobby displays, do business with a member emphasis, direct referrals, business directory, publications, mobile app, memberships in local, regional state and national organizations – adds up to almost $4,200 in benefits alone. These are direct benefits without a member business doing a thing to actively participate in chamber events.

In addition, chamber members have a better connection to the Crystal Lake community because they are connected to each other. These connections make you a more efficient business person. Your circle of influence is almost 1,000 businesses larger as a member of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce.

But probably the most important benefit is that many business owners simply don’t have the time to research all the issues that affect their business. A Crystal Lake chamber membership gives the freedom to focus on business, while we work with elected leaders to protect business interests.

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For those of you who are seeking some icing, Mario Tricoci, 625 Cog Circle, Crystal Lake, is hosting a mixer from 5 to 7 p.m. today. On May 7th from 5pm to 7pm join The Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake, is hosting its annual multi-chamber mixer from 5 yo 7 p.m. May 7.

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Please welcome our newest members! Accent Property Services, Derek Shipman; Auto Authority, Tony Zobott; Chesterbrook Academy, Sandy Jenner; Citizens Finance, Karen Shook; Coldwell Banker Honig Bell, Cindy McDowell; Cutee Patooties, Linda Friedrich; Douglas Puenner, LTD., Douglas Puenner; Glen’s Lawn Service Inc., Glen Gilmer; Gold Peak Solutions, Stacey Looney; Konrad’s Bakery, Beata Kochmanski; McCAP (McHenry County Adult Program),Kassie Toberman; MKB Kitchens, Baths & Basements, Ron Jenisch; Nancy Nelson, Nancy Nelson; QBOT, Gabriel Mayes; Summit Health, LLC, James Winiecki; True Blue Coupons, Glane Gilmer; US Lawns of Crystal Lake, Craig Gaffney; Virtue Advertising, Chris Vale.

• Gary Reece is president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. Email garyreece@clchamber.com.

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