For any company, it’s important to know what you’re selling. If you’ve ever seen one of our membership brochures, you have probably read the long list of reasons we believe businesses should join the Chamber. Chambers of Commerce are great for networking, learning about a community and finding ways to get involved around town, but let’s be honest – folks join organizations like ours so they can grow their business.
Our diverse membership includes every kind of business you can imagine and all of them are after the same things; new customers, increased sales and more opportunities to earn a profit. I’m reminded of this every time I encounter a new member.
If you’ve been a member of the Chamber for many years it can be easy to forget what it’s like to walk into your first event or function as part of the organization. Of all the gatherings and programs, we produce each year, the best place to observe that new member energy is at our monthly Benefits & Breakfast meetings.
Our Benefits & Breakfast meetings offer companies a regularly scheduled program that is tailored to the new or potential member. While enjoying a splendid serving of grits, eggs, biscuits and bacon, company representatives can explore the various avenues of Chamber membership. For many in the room, this is the first time they get a chance to stand up and tell others about their company and why they joined the Chamber. As a staff member, it’s hard not to smile when hearing those stories.
Speaking of staff, these monthly gatherings are led by Corrie Melton, Vice President for Membership and Takila Brooks, Coordinator for Membership Retention & Engagement. They do a fabulous job introducing those in attendance at Benefits & Breakfast to all things Chamber of Commerce. As you know, there is a lot going on in our world, and Corrie and Takila are wonderful guides for those who are new to it. In addition to that guidance, we feel that first impressions are incredibly important. That’s why we have Lane Carroll at the front desk to personally greet everyone as they arrive for their first introduction into Chamber life.
Over the course of an hour while our members and prospects enjoy their food and some fellowship, Corrie and Takila take them on a deep dive of Chamber benefits. For all the many ways we try to reach our members, this is still the best and most direct way that we can show them how to unlock the value that comes with paying dues. Just as every member business is different, so are the ways in which they can engage in the Chamber. It’s impressive to see our team share this in such a direct and concise way each month.
As I watched from the back of the room this week, I saw a lot of wheels turning in the minds of our members that were present. That is what triggered this column. Each company representative around the table was working through how they could use the information presented at Benefits & Breakfast to help grow their business. For some, it may be beefing up their listing in our member directory and for others, it was considering a sponsorship promoting their company through our Total Resource Campaign. Perhaps they were thinking about a valuable young professional they need to plug in to our Access Tallahassee program or even considering what events may offer the best chance to meet new clients. There are many different pathways for different companies that all lead to the prospect of a better bottom line.
Benefits & Breakfast is one of the best things we do as a Chamber. It’s the proverbial “foot in the door” for most new members and often this gathering leads to long term engagement in our organization. Knowing this, it is important to remind our new members and those who have been around for some time, that the Chamber is indeed a long-term play. Although we have many programs oriented at driving value in the short term, the biggest benefit to joining our Chamber is only realized after many years of being at the table.
Even though we serve up a delicious breakfast entree with the promise of working to grow your company and the local economy every day, the real reward happens when that new membership matures into a well-respected place in the larger business community. The food is great at Benefits & Breakfast but the real reason for coming is to discover the pathways to a more profitable environment that we can help lead businesses down. Because of that notion, I believe a Chamber membership remains the best way in town for companies to bring home the bacon.