Member benefits vary from Chamber to Chamber, but one often-overlooked universal benefit is the Chamber directory. All Chamber members are listed in an annually updated directory that's provided to both members and non-members for free. The benefits here are twofold. First, your listing in the directory means that other Chamber members who need your type of product are likely to reach out to you before trying non-member businesses in your industry. That means that you can hope for some good windfall prospects to come your way just from having your name in the directory. And second, that directory is a wonderful source of leads. At a minimum, the directory provides each member's contact information and industry. Some directories also provide details such as their company size and how long they've been in business. The directory is essentially a perfect, free lead list for you with a built-in opener... you can approach these leads with the information that, like them, you are a member of the local Chamber.
Chamber events are also terrific networking opportunities. The Chamber of Commerce will usually have regularly scheduled “mixers” in which members can meet and greet each other. You can make the most of these opportunities by volunteering to speak at such a mixer. Most Chamber members are local small business owners who are likely interested in learning more about sales techniques. Who better than you to teach them? If you enjoy writing you can also volunteer to contribute articles to the Chamber newsletter. Many Chambers of Commerce also participate in outside events, such as local charities and business-related city events – these are particularly useful for B2C salespeople. The Chamber newsletter will mention upcoming events, which makes it easy for you to decide which ones to attend.
Before you join the Chamber, ask your sales manager if you can offer a discount or other special deal for Chamber members. You may be able to advertise this promotion in the Chamber directory or newsletter; if not, at least write up a flyer and distribute it at those mixers. You can also set aside the occasional day to call on members in person and see if you can kick-start some sales.
It's likely that salespeople from other companies will also join the Chamber of Commerce. If you can track down a few other salespeople from non-competing businesses, you have the start of a great referral group. You and the other salespeople can exchange leads and generally help each other out. And Chamber events allow you to keep an eye on those salespeople who are direct competitors!
Finding your local Chamber of Commerce shouldn't be difficult. Fire up your computer browser and search for 'chamber of commerce' using your favorite search engine. Salespeople in the big city may have several Chambers in the area. In that case, try dropping by a mixer or two and take a look at their directories to see which one would be the best fit for you.