To grow your business you need to get the word out about who you are and what you do.  The Chamber of Commerce not only provides a platform for you to do that, but your fellow Chamber members join your team in building your business profile in the community.  Chamber events provide you with an active role in community happenings and it is a great place to build rapport with fellow business men and women in and around St Joseph.

The Chamber has so much to offer, but it’s up to you to get the most out of your Chamber membership.  Here’s just an overview of the benefits you should expect to glean from your involvement with the St Joseph Chamber of Commerce.

Networking Opportunities
The saying, “it doesn’t matter what you know but, who you know” is false — but knowing people sure goes a long way.  Your participation in Chamber events allows you the chance to meet many other like-minded business people in the community and build the sorts of relationships that can be mutually beneficial.

Each new business connection actually opens the door to a whole new group of potential business contacts and partnerships. This is the power of networking. A single connection extends your reach to everyone around that single point.

The Chamber sponsors events all through the year to give you multiple opportunities to make those important connections and many of the events are free of charge.  Here are just a few of the many events available:

Business Mixers take place on the third Tuesday of each month.  These opportunities to meet other business people socially are hosted in the business offices of Chamber members.  Locations change from month to month but the dividends of participation remain the same.  Business Mixers are cost-free.

The Chamber provides regular venues for professional development and these are an ideal setting for conversing with other business folks about how they deal with common problems.  Those kinds of conversations can be immensely helpful. There are seminars on personal and professional development which happen over lunch the second Tuesday of every month.  The Chamber also hosts events like October’s Healthy Workforce Summit to help you maintain positive business practices and a smooth-running work environment.

The Chamber’s LEAD (Leaders Engaging and Developing) program is an opportunity to reach out and help shape the future executive in our area. What better way to stay engaged with the younger business mindset and approaching business trends than this group that is geared towards young professionals? It’s intended for you to share what you’ve learned along the way, but most of us know that the teacher always walks away having learned the most.

The biggest networking group of the Chamber is the Diplomats Club. It has many subcommittees that help plan events like the Annual Banquet, do community service activities and help welcome new members to the Chamber. It is a large and fun group whose members not only help better the brand of their business and make new connections with the St. Joseph business community, members also make new friends.

Your Chamber membership also provides you with ways to connect with family and non-members.  Some Chamber events are focused on fun and these activities are a great way to meet folks where nothing is on the agenda apart from a good time.  Events like Kickballapalooza and Parties on the Parkway offer days of exercise and enjoyment for members, non-members and families.  You will be surprised how these activities wind up offering unexpected connection points.  A day of fun in the wider community is an opportunity to meet prospective partners and customers.

Making Connections
Membership allows you to make innumerable personal connections but it also places you in an important database.  Chamber members use the website to find those in the community who may benefit from their services, but your name and business are also listed so that when others are looking for a specific service, yours will be the one they find first.

Businesses are listed according to services provided in an extensive business directory.  The Chamber directory includes a full list of member clubs and organizations, as well.  Before Angie’s List and Craigslist – there was and is the Chamber.  You can patronize Chamber businesses with confidence because you know them personally along with their commitment to excellence and community involvement.  The great thing is that your fellow Chamber members know all the same things about you.

In fact, the Chamber’s mobile app, Go St. Joe, regularly posts discount promotions and coupons just for members.  There is no charge to you for putting your promotional materials to encourage Chamber members to come and visit your business.  And, as you know, every time your name is out there, it raises the likelihood that someone will remember you and recommend you to someone else.

Getting and Giving Referrals
Recommending businesses highlights another benefit to be gained from your Chamber membership – referrals.  Each time you visit a member’s place of business, let them know that you are prepared to refer others to them.  Many Chamber members choose only to work with other members of the Chamber to show solidarity in support of the development of the community. Part of Chamber dues go to economic development efforts to help bring new businesses to town and help current businesses expand. This helps grow the number of people using local businesses. By being a Chamber member, you support those efforts.

The Chamber business directory and office will only refer members.  When people move to town and go to the Chamber for business referrals, you will be on the list of providers mentioned.  Again, this provides you with an exponential reach.

A Great Way to Advertise
Making personal connections and gaining respected referrals are critical in growing your business base, but most businesses also need to advertise.  Advertising is expensive, but your Chamber membership offers you a number of outlets for pushing out promotions.  The Monday Morning Memo is just one avenue sponsored by the Chamber. This is a free e-newsletter that goes to 2,600 people weekly. Each member can put one item in per week to publicize events or specials going on at their business.

You can become a website sponsor which will give you prominence on Chamber web pages.  You can become a featured sponsor and you can sponsor Chamber publications like their monthly newsletter.  The Chamber newsletter reaches 2,500 members every time it goes out.  Members can also choose to sponsor community events, which give them the opportunity to advertise in association with positive civic efforts.  Some Chamber advertising avenues cost, but some are free. Either way, membership allows you to reach a wide and targeted audience through precision distribution.

The Chamber supports members by celebrating landmark events in business like grand openings and business expansions.  The Chamber will create a press release for the media and will help put together a ribbon cutting ceremony to generate enthusiasm for your new venture.  Since the Chamber is there to promote St Joseph economic growth, members are invited to share in ribbon-cutting ceremonies for all new and growing businesses in town.

Your Chamber of Commerce membership is more valuable than you realize.  It helps you keep your finger on the pulse of business trends and opportunities, but it does so much more than that.  Membership means you will be involved with any number of forums for meeting new business partners and potential business customers.  Fun events, professional development events and preferential advertising and referrals are just some of the benefits you should be collecting from your membership.

Natalie Redmond
Vice President, Membership

As Vice President of Membership Services for the St. Joseph Metro Chamber, Natalie Redmond oversees all membership activities including membership recruitment and retention, as well as coordination of special events. Ms. Redmond serves as staff liaison for the following Chamber committees: Chamber Golf Classic, The Diplomats Club, Annual Banquet, Business Mixers, Community Relations, Membership, New Executives Luncheon, New Member Contact, Parties on the Parkway, Shop St. Joseph Program, Small Business Summit, and the Young Executives Network.