5 Ways a Chamber Membership Is Completely Overrated

by Christina R. Green

Have you ever waited a really long time for something like a movie to come out, only to be disappointed? Or maybe a friend told you how wonderful a particular city was. But when you went there it wasn’t nearly as fantastic as your imagination—and your friend—had made it out to be. 

Are you worried chamber membership will turn out the same way? A lot of talk and not much value? You’re probably right. In fact, I have a feeling you’re always right. Am I right? 

Here are 5 ways a chamber membership is totally overrated.

1. The Learning Resources Are Free or Nearly Free

Everyone knows that business experts who are willing to give of their skills and knowledge for the cost of membership must have something up their sleeves. The fact that these chamber people want business owners in their community to be able to grow their business through educating them on pertinent topics like social media, building your own website, and mitigating risk just doesn’t make sense. 

Everyone knows it’s best to not share any information because if someone knows you’re successful, they’ll think you’re an industry thought leader. The fact that the chamber is giving away information and serving as a helpful community resource shows that they know nothing about business. If they truly wanted the economy to thrive, they would throw everyone into the deep end of the pool to see who could swim not provide learning resources for all like Lunch and Learns, free articles, and professional advice.

2. They Offer Networking to Increase Business Revenue

Chambers offer networking groups, some of which are tailored by industry or level. There are mastermind groups and leads groups and sometimes these business people get together just to have fun. I’m not sure why anyone would want to be a part of a group that promoted business in ways that could increase growth. 

That sounds pretty boring. Although, the growth part could mean more business revenue, which could mean you could afford to do something more exciting. But who wants more revenue? Then you’d have to go out and find a hobby.

3. They’re Off Campaigning for Business

As if those chamber folks aren’t busy enough collecting drink tickets and cutting ribbons with giant scissors, they’re also busy talking to people at the state capital asking for their support for their community on business issues that affect their local business owners. Who wants to support issues that benefit business and the economy? Not you. You have other more important things to do like run your business.

Of course, I suppose if these chamber people weren’t off doing that, we might have some issues. Good thing they are.

4. It’s Always the Same People

Those chamber events are always full of the same people dedicated to improving the local business climate. They work on shop local programs and support member to member patronage. All they think about is how they can grow their business and help others in the community do the same. A lot of them will even give you their suggestions on how they can help you based on their business experience.

This just proves a chamber membership is completely overrated. We need more people in town talking about the Kardashians. Our economy is fine the way it is. More successful businesses would mean more traffic, anyway.

5. They Keep the Light On

When visitors come to town, those chamber people are there to greet them. They strike up a conversation with those travelers and then they even give them suggestions based on what those visitors are looking for. Could even be your business. 

But a chamber membership is overrated because those referrals take all the fun out of those weary travelers just stumbling across your place right before you close. Don’t you love the serendipitous moment of someone coming in like that? There you are just wondering if you’ll get a customer and some days one appears. Who wants to join the chamber and have referrals walk in all the time? No one with any sense of romance or fate.

Yes, a chamber membership is truly overrated. Having access to the inside track for new jobs or economic opportunities, having someone who’s actively advocating for your business when you don’t have the time nor the inclination, being a part of informal mentoring, and having access to free or nearly free learning opportunities certainly doesn’t sound like it would help you grow your business at all.  You know what you should do instead? Spend more time on Facebook watching cat videos. I read that 96.7% of people who spend the better part of a day on social media watching videos of furry cuteness have a unicorn delivered to their doorstep on the vernal equinox. 

It’s true. It was on the Interwebs. 

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations every.


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