Chamber of Commerce?

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Feb 13, 2009 8:57 pm

I joined four years ago, worked my ass off on committees, became a board member and I'm now the secretary.  Next year I'll be the Vice-Chair and then in 2011 I'll be the charman of the board.  Has anyone found all this volunteering and meeting to be productive in getting clients.  I got one client at one of the first chamber breakfast's I attended, and he was at an architect firm so that got me the 401k and four clients from the firm.

 
Other than that, I haven't been actually getting clients.  I've got a lot of contacts, but haven't really turned it into clients and I spend about $250 per year in dues, $250 in donations and about 30 - 40 hours of time per year.  Maybe I'm not effectively prospecting at these times because I'm volunteering?
 
Thanks for the thoughts.
Feb 14, 2009 12:16 pm

I'm brand new, so I don't know what it's like to prospect from the local Chamber. I will add this though, the FA right down the block from my house is a 7 year vet. He, too, is very active in our town's Chamber of Commerce. He also has a reputation in the region for working his tail off. He's the 2nd ranking Seg 5 FA in our region, and one of the top 200 in the company. Did he get clients from the Chamber? I don't know, but my guess is after 7 years he probably stuck to what worked. Just a thought.

Feb 14, 2009 1:00 pm

I've got a lot of contacts, but haven't really turned it into clients



 
are you treating them like prospects, or simply waiting for the business to come to you?  the chamber is a huge waste of money (just like every other tool with a cost) if you don't develop a strategy and leverage the membership.  simply joining is not going to do anything for you.
Feb 14, 2009 1:56 pm

It depends how you approach it. For me, I am very active in a lot of local organizations (Chamber, Rotary, BNI, etc.). I don't do it so much for the direct prospecting opportunities, but more as the P.R. componant of my marketing plan. I now know so many people in town, that my name has become very well known. So as I meet new people around town, many have heard of me already through other people. It's important to "know and be known" in this business. And this is one of the few ways to do it. So my suggestion is to not measure success of your networking by the number of real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and Mary Kay reps you bring on as clients from the Chamber (get the picture??), but rather how many people you are getting exposed to on a regular basis. Now, if networking is the ONLY way you are trying to get clients, then I suggest a more aggressive approach. It's just not how I do things.

Feb 14, 2009 2:25 pm
B24:

It depends how you approach it. For me, I am very active in a lot of local organizations (Chamber, Rotary, BNI, etc.). I don't do it so much for the direct prospecting opportunities, but more as the P.R. componant of my marketing plan. I now know so many people in town, that my name has become very well known. So as I meet new people around town, many have heard of me already through other people. It's important to "know and be known" in this business. And this is one of the few ways to do it. So my suggestion is to not measure success of your networking by the number of real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and Mary Kay reps you bring on as clients from the Chamber (get the picture??), but rather how many people you are getting exposed to on a regular basis. Now, if networking is the ONLY way you are trying to get clients, then I suggest a more aggressive approach. It's just not how I do things.

There was a discussion on another thread where someone (can't remember who) mentioned the "shadiness" of joining service organizations (i.e. Rotary, Kiwanis, etc) for prospecting purposes. I tend to agree. Doesn't mean an FA or any other kind of salesperson shouldn't join...just do it for the right reasons.
 
That being said, I'm still in training with EJ, but I was wondering how soon I should be considering getting involved with organizations like BNI, Chamber, Toastmasters, etc.? I understand that building relationships and becoming "known" take time, so when should I get started?
 
Also, the local Chamber here already has a Jones FA who is very active. The local BNI also has a Financial guy already. If I wanted to get involved...where's my potential coming from?
Feb 14, 2009 3:30 pm

lots of options, but first and foremost, join something you really want to do.  doing it because you have to for "prospecting or marketing" will rarely result in much success.
you could do what i did.  find 3-5 other professionals (cpa, attorney, p/c, realtor), who "look like you demographically" and form your own group, and grow from there.  we meet monthly.

Feb 14, 2009 4:19 pm
theironhorse:

I've got a lot of contacts, but haven't really turned it into clients



 
are you treating them like prospects, or simply waiting for the business to come to you?  the chamber is a huge waste of money (just like every other tool with a cost) if you don't develop a strategy and leverage the membership.  simply joining is not going to do anything for you.



TIH, can you elaborate on your strategy with chambers etc?

Feb 14, 2009 4:44 pm

[/quote] There was a discussion on another thread where someone (can't remember who) mentioned the "shadiness" of joining service organizations (i.e. Rotary, Kiwanis, etc) for prospecting purposes. I tend to agree. Doesn't mean an FA or any other kind of salesperson shouldn't join...just do it for the right reasons.[/quote]

 
If you join a group to prospect - they will smell you out fast.
 
I joined the Chamber when I first started.  For new business, it was almost pointless.  Everybody that was going to the meetings were there for the same reason I was - looking for business.  And it was almost always the same group: 8 realtors, 12 bankers, cell phone sales person, EDJ broker and 10 old guys there to eat the snacks.
 
Bes thing - become active in your church - first, because you should.  Also, your community will see your good works, it will build your credibility, and others will see that you are there for the right reasons.  That will bring people to you that want to work with you.
Feb 14, 2009 4:48 pm

In our community our Chamber has ribbon cuttings for nex businesses (probably same all over.)  Provided two benefits for me.  1) Got me out of the office to break up the day. 2) They always served food - then I wouldn't have to pay for lunch.


The best - some weeks there would have up to 3 ribbon cuttings.
Feb 14, 2009 5:00 pm

If the chamber doesn't work, I suggest you try this.  I've had great luck with a "longest zucchini" contest.  It netted me two IRA's DCA'ing $50/ month into ICA.  You might even get some great PR from it. 


I think there's a pre-approved piece on word power.  Just plug in the vegetable of choice!
 
Edward Jones to sponsor corn growing contest

11:20 a.m.
By Carlleen Bell
NT Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 5:34 PM CST
Edward Jones to sponsor corn growing contest

By Carlleen Bell

NT Staff Writer

ATLANTIC-Edward Jones investment offices across Iowa, in conjunction with Our Iowa magazine, are sponsoring a Tallest Cornstalk contest this growing season.

According to an article in Our Iowa magazine, subscribers will receive a packet of six corn seeds in the March/April issue of the magazine and the participant who grows the tallest corn stalk will receive a prize basket valued at $500.

Seed packets will also be available at the offices of Brian Farley and Judd Meneely of Edward Jones Investments. Edward Jones is the official sponsor of the contest.


The corn seed used in the contest will be imported from South America and is genetically programmed to grow much taller than domestic varieties. The imported variety can grow more than 15 feet tall because the length of daylight hours during the growing season.

The contest closes on Oct. 1, and at the end of the contest, Edward Jones representatives Brian Farley and Judd Meneely will be the official measurers and submit measurements for anyone who thinks they could have the tallest stalk.

The winner of the contest will be announced in the December/January issue of Our Iowa magazine.

Non-subscibers and the general public can pick up a packet of seed in early April at Brian Farley's office at 324 Chestnut or at Judd Meneely's office at 912 E. Seventh Street. More information for subscribing to Our Iowa magazine is also available at those offices.

Feb 14, 2009 5:32 pm
I know you're being facetious but....
 
As funny as it sounds my guess is that if you live in a part of the country that thrives on agriculture, then this could be an EXCELLENT marketing strategy. In my prior career, I had the opportunity to meet and sell to several farmers (although they weren't central to my business). They've all got money. Call up Brian or Judd and ask them if they've tried this before, and if so how lucrative it was.
Feb 16, 2009 2:20 pm
GlengarryGlenRoss:
theironhorse:

I've got a lot of contacts, but haven't really turned it into clients



 
are you treating them like prospects, or simply waiting for the business to come to you?  the chamber is a huge waste of money (just like every other tool with a cost) if you don't develop a strategy and leverage the membership.  simply joining is not going to do anything for you.



TIH, can you elaborate on your strategy with chambers etc?

 
I do not have a strategy at all.  I have avoided the Chamber for prospecting as I knew it would not fit my model, and I would get little out of it, knowing full well I would put little INTO it.  As I mentioned, I created my own small little group.  We refer to each other.
Feb 16, 2009 8:37 pm
wp_fan:

I joined four years ago, worked my ass off on committees, became a board member and I'm now the secretary.  Next year I'll be the Vice-Chair and then in 2011 I'll be the charman of the board.  Has anyone found all this volunteering and meeting to be productive in getting clients.  I got one client at one of the first chamber breakfast's I attended, and he was at an architect firm so that got me the 401k and four clients from the firm.

 
Other than that, I haven't been actually getting clients.  I've got a lot of contacts, but haven't really turned it into clients and I spend about $250 per year in dues, $250 in donations and about 30 - 40 hours of time per year.  Maybe I'm not effectively prospecting at these times because I'm volunteering?
 
Thanks for the thoughts.
 
I responded to the thread that you started about cold calling.  It's pretty obvious that you are pretty good at avoidance activities.  If you don't pick up the phone and ask people to meet with you for business purposes, don't expect to get much business.
Feb 16, 2009 10:16 pm
wp_fan:

I joined four years ago, worked my ass off on committees, became a board member and I'm now the secretary.  Next year I'll be the Vice-Chair and then in 2011 I'll be the charman of the board.  Has anyone found all this volunteering and meeting to be productive in getting clients.  I got one client at one of the first chamber breakfast's I attended, and he was at an architect firm so that got me the 401k and four clients from the firm.

 
Other than that, I haven't been actually getting clients.  I've got a lot of contacts, but haven't really turned it into clients and I spend about $250 per year in dues, $250 in donations and about 30 - 40 hours of time per year.  Maybe I'm not effectively prospecting at these times because I'm volunteering?
 
Thanks for the thoughts.
 
WP, you actually WANT any of those people as clients?  Keep in mind, you are seeing the SAME people over and over.  If youa re not seeing and talking to NEW people, you are going to run out of ideas pretty quick.  Chambers should be for PR and kissing babies, not prospecting.  And $500 per year and 3 hours per month is not much of a committment.  I would keep it for the PR aspect, but don't expect many clients out of it.
Feb 16, 2009 10:29 pm
anonymous:
wp_fan:

I joined four years ago, worked my ass off on committees, became a board member and I'm now the secretary.  Next year I'll be the Vice-Chair and then in 2011 I'll be the charman of the board.  Has anyone found all this volunteering and meeting to be productive in getting clients.  I got one client at one of the first chamber breakfast's I attended, and he was at an architect firm so that got me the 401k and four clients from the firm.

 
Other than that, I haven't been actually getting clients.  I've got a lot of contacts, but haven't really turned it into clients and I spend about $250 per year in dues, $250 in donations and about 30 - 40 hours of time per year.  Maybe I'm not effectively prospecting at these times because I'm volunteering?
 
Thanks for the thoughts.
 
I responded to the thread that you started about cold calling.  It's pretty obvious that you are pretty good at avoidance activities.  If you don't pick up the phone and ask people to meet with you for business purposes, don't expect to get much business.
 
I can see where that would appear to be the case, but keep in mind I'm asking for advice on things I know I'm not good at.  There are a lot of things I am good at; cold calling business owners face to face, getting referrals, mining for other monies, and client service as measured by our JD Powers client surveys.
Feb 23, 2009 10:21 pm

Have you tried picking up the phone and inviting each member to breakfast or lunch with you? If not, then try that. Ask them about themselves, their business, their interests, etc. Be prepared to introduce them to one or two people in your network who might have a complementary business or be helpful to them.

 
  When they ask, or allow you to turn the conversation after more than three quarters the time has focused on them, turn to you.  Use carefully selected examples of your business to create interest or to help qualify referrals. Ask toward the end of the meeting if there is anyone they think you should meet. 
 
Most of the business with chamber members doesn't happen on committee, or during meetings. 1:1 situations will allow you to learn more about them, and to go deeper.
 
 
 
Mar 4, 2009 12:14 am

Asking your fellow Chamber members to lunch is a great idea. I know a guy who built his business on inviting a member of his rotary to lunch every week. He did nothing in the lunch but ask a few questions and listen. He made the person feel like a king/queen. At the end, he picked up the check and jokingly said he could write off the lunch if he could say a few words about what he did. The guy makes a very good living these days.



Bottom line, people need to know what you do, but they don't want to be sold. And don't assume people know what you do just because you volunteer a lot. I never joined the Chamber, but I always thought that if I did, I'd be on the welcoming committee. How easy would it be to go to local businesses, welcome them to the chamber, learn what they do, build a relationship - and talk a little about who you are too.



Nonprofit boards have worked well for me, as have service clubs. But don't get so involved that you take your eye off your real goal - building your biz.

Mar 22, 2009 1:53 pm

Why join the chamber when most of the time you can attend their events for free or a nominal charge anyway.  I have never found any benefits of the chamber, seems like a lot of new business owners with no money to invest.

 
Toastmasters - I would join that right away.
 
BNI - Depends on the individuals in that paticular group, try LeTip (www.letip.com) they are much more structured than BNI.
Mar 27, 2009 8:55 am

I think joining any club or organization can be very lucrative if done the right way.  As with everything, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.

 
With the Chamber, I would not join if I didn't personally know a big player to guide me to the correct events to participate in, committees to join, etc..  These people are also in the know as to who you should meet and be talking to.  Moreover, they can introduce you to the right people.
 
I never had any intention of joing my CofC, but now I have a very well known person in our community that can serve as an introducer.