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Reece: There’s more to the Chamber than its definition

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

The common definition of a chamber of commerce is “an association of businesspersons and merchants for the promotion of commercial interests in the community.”

But here’s what Chamber really means:

The “C” in Chamber represents the “commitment” to our own organization. First and foremost, we need to run the Chamber like any other successful business. Look at it this way. How can we represent business if we cannot run the chamber successfully? We need a strong foundation in order help our members. That means wisely utilizing our resources and to make sound decisions and yes, sometimes even unpopular ones, about the direction and future of the organization.

The “H” in Chamber is all about “helping” business. How do we do that? Well, the core functions of a chamber of commerce are pretty straight forward, that being to:

• Promote and strengthen the local economy

• Represent business interests with governments and take political action

• Develop leaders

• Provide opportunities to establish and build relationships

The “A” in Chamber is for “attitude.” Attitude determines success in any endeavor. No matter what side of the bed we wake on, we need hit the ground running, positive and focused on our customer’s success, which ensures our own. The late sports agent Dicky Fox  was quoted saying “I love getting up in the morning. I clap my hands and say, “This is gonna be a great day!” Need I say more?

The “M” in Chamber equals “membership’s” best interests. While trade groups and industry associations represent specific industry sectors, there is no other organization that represents the collective business interest the way the Chamber does.

The “B” in Chamber stands for “belonging.” Whether you are actively involved or not, an investment in the Chamber is good for business. Two-thirds of consumers believe that Chamber members are better at four core business traits: using good business practices, are reputable, they care about their customers and are more involved in the community than are non-Chamber businesses. In addition, when consumers know that a business is a member of the Chamber, they are 49 percent more likely to think favorably of it and 80 percent more likely to buy goods or services from the company in the future.

The “E” in Chamber represents our “enthusiasm” for business. Winston Churchill said “Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.” We should be enthusiastic about the things that business provides: jobs, tax revenues (by the way … government derives all its sources of revenue from the private sector), support of local charities, I could go on. The Chamber’s mission is to insure that the horse stays healthy and not a cow to be milked of every last drop.

And the “R” in Chamber is all about “referrals.” Specifically, member referrals. While we do plenty to help all businesses in the community we are first and foremost a member-based entity. That means when people ask for referrals, we refer only our members.

• • •

From 5 to 7 p.m. today join hosts JourneyCare (formally Hospice of Northeastern Illinois) as they hold an Oktoberfest Multi-Chamber Mixer at Lakeside Legacy, 401 Country Club Road, Crystal Lake. All Chamber members are encouraged to attend for great relationship-building opportunities.

• • •

How would you like to showcase your business in front of 5,000 potential customers? Well, the 2014 Crystal Lake Home & Business EXPO, held March 29-30, is one of the best, most cost-effective ways to do just that.

Early Bird registration for Chamber members is only until Oct. 31 and booths are already 50 percent sold out, so don’t wait any longer and register today.

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

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