What Does It Mean to Be a Chamber Member?
As I talk with folks in our community, there is still some confusion as to what a Chamber of Commerce actually is and does. That's okay. When you start to think about it, a Chamber is a somewhat unique type of organization.
Traditionally, a Chamber of Commerce has been a membership organization that supports the interests of its business members.
We are not affiliated with any government body (though we do coordinate and work together).
We are not truly a charity (though we are classified as a nonprofit entity by the IRS).
And we are not connected to the Better Business Bureau (though we very much advocate for trust between our members and the public).
So where does that leave us? I would argue it puts the Chamber of Commerce - in particular, the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce - squarely at the center of action when it comes to fostering a healthy, vibrant, and dynamic community. If you think the idea of a Chamber is outdated or unnecessary, I'd invite you to take another look.
Why Be a Member of the Chamber?
As a chamber member, you are represented by a powerful organization. Because we are not government-affiliated, a Chamber can weather political storms, cannot get voted out of office, and always represent the business community. When you think about it, since healthy communities are good places to work with strong employment opportunities, a Chamber helps all members of a community.
The Hidden Advantages of Membership
When you belong to a Chamber, you'll find there is a long list of advantages you gain through your membership. But those advantages only skim the surface of what you and your employees receive from joining. If you want to be part of something larger than yourself and your business, striving to improve opportunities in your community, Chamber membership is an ideal way to do that.
Volunteering Is Powerful Marketing
There are many ways to volunteer in the chamber. From assisting with events to participating in educational roundtables, serving on the Board to working with our Lewis County Schools initiatives. Your skills and experiences and effort will be leveraged in a way that helps you increase your network, your knowledge, and your business exposure.
When you volunteer - and we share that information with others - your business is aligned with the cause in the eyes of all community members. The Chamber embraces many causes that improve the quality of life for this community we serve.
It might be easy to just think of the Chamber as a “business only” entity without realizing that every issue in the community affects business. If our community is not seen as a friendly and prosperous one, people won’t want to live, work, or open a business here in Lewis County. Being pro-community is pro-business and vice-versa.
If there's a cause you feel strongly about, you can likely contribute to it through Chamber work, while also strengthening your business and growing your network with cause-based marketing.
Community Leadership and Responsibility
Chamber members are viewed as reputable and dedicated to creating (or continuing) a flourishing community. When you become a Chamber member, you are announcing to the community that your business is here to stay and you’re investing in the success of the area. Through membership, you are choosing to be part of an organization that has championed the cause of business in Lewis County for over 100 years.
A Strong Unified Voice
The Chamber is positioned to recognize what our whole business community needs before individual businesses can address it themselves. As a member of the Chamber, you are part of helping your neighbors and the county to discover the joy, opportunity, and challenges of business ownership.
Being a Chamber member in the 21st century goes beyond the list of features you’ll see in our membership brochure. Sure, those items are good investments for your business, and they can save you money and help you grow. But the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce offers much more than that. The Chamber is leading the efforts to make our community a better place to live, work, and play for everyone. And membership offers you a highly visible opportunity to be part of that excitement.
If your business is not yet a member, I hope you'll join us.
Written by Chris Bailey. Chris is the Executive Director of the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce. When he's not helping his community and businesses prosper, Chris enjoys hiking West Virginia state parks with his wife Carrie, having a good beer and barbecue, and solving the daily NY Times crossword puzzle.