First off, what is a chamber of commerce?
A chamber of commerce is a non-profit organization led by business leaders, owners and entrepreneurs working on further advancing the goals and interests of businesses in their communities. Chambers of commerce not only help your overall business growth and development, but they also serve as your voice on important issues, laws and regulations that directly impact you and your business.
Chambers of commerce can be operated at the local, state or national level. They all have specific roles they play but will often promote and support each other. At the state level, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce is the only statewide business advocacy organization committed to driving economic development and impacting policies that make our state more nationally competitive. We do this through advocacy efforts in our state and federal legislatures, and also provide high-level resources, programming and events to our members. Through our Maryland Chamber Federation, we’ve partnered with our local Maryland chambers to ensure the voice of small business is heard at these higher levels. This opportunity increases small businesses’ influence in state and federal legislature and provides them with resources at the state level.
Local chambers are specifically tailored to meet the needs of a city or county and spur business growth in that area. How exactly do they do this? Here’s a rundown of the top 5 value-adds your local chamber can deliver:
1. Networking Opportunities
Perhaps the most popular benefit of joining a local chamber of commerce: Networking opportunities. As a small business owner, it is essential to meet other local business leaders, receive qualified referrals and form partnerships that will help grow your business. Joining a local chamber will allow you to do all those things by offering many opportunities for meet and greets, networking lunches and mixers. So, step away from your desk, get ready to mix, mingle and shake some hands that will build new alliances and help you grow!
2. Increase Credibility
It is crucial to maintain a positive image among your customers and fellow business owners. Being part of a local chamber increases your business credibility and helps you get recognized as a strong player in your industry and community. Being a member shows you are there for the long-run and are actively contributing towards the economic growth and well-being of the communities your customers are part of.
3. Increase Visibility
Don’t have a full-time marketing staff? No problem. Your chamber membership will give you exposure 24/7 by increasing your visibility through their website, online directory, social media shout-outs and more. This will allow you to remain in the public eye and enable you to stand out from your competition. When your business opens, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to have your local chamber there to support you as you cut the ribbon!
4. Resources and Services
Many chambers offer free or discounted resources and professional services that help businesses save time and money. They offer member discounts, directories, access to facilities, group insurance and business loans. But that’s not all, they also often carry out development training sessions ranging from management, financing, HR, IT, marketing and much more. Being a member gives you the tools you need to carry out your day-to-day operations more efficiently and effectively.
5. Maximize SEO
Finally, an often-overlooked benefit of joining a Chamber is maximizing your local SEO. When you join a chamber, you automatically get added to their online directory, generating a backlink with excellent SEO value that helps drive more relevant traffic to your website. Increasing your SEO value through a high-quality site, such as your local chamber’s website, also increases your business visibility in Google searches.
These 5 benefits – and more – are at your fingertips through your local chamber of commerce. Explore these organizations, and don’t miss the opportunity to engage with your community and the customers you serve on a deeper level.
We have 60 chambers of commerce in Maryland, find your chapter here, and take the next step towards connecting your business in new and powerful ways.
To learn more about the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and how we are committed to working with our statewide alliance of partners on critical public policy issues and are dedicated to building a stronger Maryland click here and read about how becoming one of our members can benefit your business here.