When I started my career in Chamber work 27 years ago (egads!), new member recruitment just kind of happened on its own. Truly, it was sufficient to just be a reputable Chamber, and make sure your new members had access to easy discounts on insurance products. Yes, we had our “staple” Chamber programs, to facilitate networking, provide education, generate publications, and do some light advocacy work. But the overall program of work was much thinner than it is today, partly because we honestly did do less, but also because we didn’t have the ease that we have today to get those tasks accomplished. (In fairness, we did have computers on our desks, those now-antiquated Macintosh all-in-one models, and we all had libraries of colorful disks, sitting dutifully adjacent. We thought it was so high-tech!) We functioned with a Board, and various committees, and of course, our Ambassadors Club. It was good, and it didn’t take long for me to get completely immersed in the Chamber world, and love everything about it, including the great relationships we made—and helped others make—along the way.
Fast-forward to present day. Our programming and products are much more extensive, both in quantity (my medium-sized Chamber delivered 108 last year) and depth, as we strive to better tailor and target our programming. We can deliver more choices, developed with greater resources, in a faster, more professional, and hopefully more effective manner (I now have two large screens on my desk, and my email on my phone, and forget disks… It’s all on the cloud!). We still have in-person programming, of course, but our other resources are largely accessed electronically by our members, and by the public. We operate much leaner, and our work is much more streamlined and efficient than ever before. The issues we address, on behalf of the business community, seem to be much more direct and hard-hitting than ever before. In other words, everything has changed.
Or has it?
The overall Chamber mission of supporting and growing business has remained the same. Chambers still function with Boards, and cadres of volunteers, including an Ambassadors club (or a similar group, by a different name). We still have our “staple” Chamber programming, for sure. We still flex and stretch, and strive to change as business changes, and deliver timely, relevant training and information. And at the heart of it all is developing great relationships, because people do business with people they know and trust. That, Chamber friends, is the bottom line. So, keep calm and Chamber on. Even if your program of work looks entirely different than it did a few years ago, underneath, it’s really all the same. And it’s all good.