Chamber of Commerce

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Jan 21, 2009 12:57 am

I did the whole Chamber of Commerce thing when I lived in a smaller MSA and I swore I'd never do it again.

 
However, being that I am now in a very large and wealthy metropolitan area, I'm curious if anyone has had any success in a similar type of area.
 
 
Jan 21, 2009 9:58 am

Snags, it really comes down to who is active in the Chamber.  If it's all a bunch of real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and non-profit agencies, it's useless.  If there are a lot of "real" busienss people (attorneys, CPA's, business "owners", etc.), then it might have some value.  The key is that you are networking with people that HAVE business, not the ones that NEED business.  I guess agoing to a few of the after-hours events will answer the question.

Jan 21, 2009 11:16 am
B24:

Snags, it really comes down to who is active in the Chamber.  If it's all a bunch of real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and non-profit agencies, it's useless.  If there are a lot of "real" busienss people (attorneys, CPA's, business "owners", etc.), then it might have some value.  The key is that you are networking with people that HAVE business, not the ones that NEED business.  I guess agoing to a few of the after-hours events will answer the question.

 
I was looking at the board of directors and executive committee last night after the post and out of about 25 people, about 1/3 were bank reps, wirehouse guys, and other financial gurus.  Without fail, whenever I try to do some sort of networking thing, there are always multiple other advisors, even in small groups.  The financial services field is so over saturated.
Jan 21, 2009 11:19 am

IMHO, it is similar to any networking activity in that you cannot expect to show up and just have folks shovel accounts at you.  It's an unfortunate result of our business's reputation(plus the personal nature of our services) that folks will not give you their business nor refer you to others until they have developed a sense of trust.

You need to show up regularly, dress your absolute sharpest(sounds like an assumed but you do), and go out of your way to meet folks.  It also doesn't hurt if you make it a point to get involved in one of the volunteer committees.

As you get to know folks, that's when you catch them after a meeting or call them between meetings and ask them out to lunch, and then you can start to get to the point where you're actually talking business.

Don't take out the chamber directory and cold call everyone, or even pursue a meeting with every single person you meet or sit with at a luncheon.  A Chamber of Commerce is a somewhat cliquish little community, and if you act that way word will travel.  Be selective, patient, and classy.

I'm saying this from experience.  A number of years ago in a different town I did it "the wrong way".  About 9 months ago I joined my local chamber and have worked on doing it 'the right way'.  No business yet, but I'm very close on some very attractive prospects, and I've also made some very good referral connections that should pay off nicely over time...and these COI relationships are from meetings I never would have gotten if I didn't have a relationship with these folks from the chamber.

There are a lot of Jones offices in my area, and the first time I went to a meeting there were about 5 of them at the luncheon.  I remember thinking "Oh man I just wasted 300 bucks on my chamber dues."  But, I've made the monthly luncheon a permanent fixture in my calendar, and over time I've built up the relationships and started to make the connections.  Now, I dare say I stand head and shoulders above most of my competitors in the chamber in the minds of most members...with the possible exception of one Jones guy who has been there for a long time.

It's a far more pleasant way of developing business than pounding the phones, but it takes time.  If you need to ramp up assets quickly it cannot be your primary method of bringing in business.

Jan 21, 2009 11:52 am
snaggletooth:
B24:

Snags, it really comes down to who is active in the Chamber.  If it's all a bunch of real estate agents, mortgage brokers, and non-profit agencies, it's useless.  If there are a lot of "real" busienss people (attorneys, CPA's, business "owners", etc.), then it might have some value.  The key is that you are networking with people that HAVE business, not the ones that NEED business.  I guess agoing to a few of the after-hours events will answer the question.

 
I was looking at the board of directors and executive committee last night after the post and out of about 25 people, about 1/3 were bank reps, wirehouse guys, and other financial gurus.  Without fail, whenever I try to do some sort of networking thing, there are always multiple other advisors, even in small groups.  The financial services field is so over saturated.
 
Wait a year,  the ranks are thining!
Jan 21, 2009 2:28 pm

True.  And usually, even if they don't fail out, they move on and stop the netowrking thing because they did not prosper in it right away.  People will start to recognize the ones that are there long-term, and start to doubt "newbies" to the group.  Why would I do biz with the new guy instead of Frank over there who's been around for years? (assuming you like Frank)  Think about it if you were a member looking for a financial advisor.  Who would you feel most comfortable with?

Jan 21, 2009 4:41 pm
B24:

True.  And usually, even if they don't fail out, they move on and stop the netowrking thing because they did not prosper in it right away.  People will start to recognize the ones that are there long-term, and start to doubt "newbies" to the group.  Why would I do biz with the new guy instead of Frank over there who's been around for years? (assuming you like Frank)  Think about it if you were a member looking for a financial advisor.  Who would you feel most comfortable with?



Exactly.