As explained by Wikipedia: a chamber of commerce (also referred to in some circles as a board of trade) is a form of business network, e.g., a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members, and they elect a board of directors or executive council to set policy for the chamber. The board or council then hires a President, CEO or Executive Director, plus staffing appropriate to size, to run the organization.
The Alameda Chamber of Commerce had its first home in 1928 in the newly built Alameda Hotel. As with any business, the Chamber has had its financial ups and downs, and with the recent economic climate, businesses all over have struggled. Because of necessary budget tightening by big and small companies, membership to the Chamber, in many cases, had to be put on hold...until now. Within the past 7 months, the Alameda Chamber of Commerce has shown a tremendous increase in new and returning members and reaffirmed its symbiotic relationship with the City government. Now more than ever, being a Chamber member is probably the number one most important move any business owner should make.
Still, what is the Chamber really good for? This list explians-
1. Visibility. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” still holds true, so it goes without saying that businesses need to be in the eye of consumers. The Alameda Chamber of Commerce offers different ways to get your business in front of consumers, and also demonstrates your commitment to the community.
2. Contacts. When you join the chamber and get actively involved, you’ll discover that meeting potential customers who can refer you to others is the number one benefit of membership. You’ll soon find yourself in situations where you can identify and meet decision-makers face-to-face. So unless you like making cold calls and are thrilled by rejection day in and day out, joining the Chamber will get you in front of potential clients.
3. Ongoing training and education. Very few small business owners have much of a training budget or can afford to bring in experts on different business related topics. The Alameda Chamber offers timely programs at little or no cost to members to help keep a business running smoothly.
4. Networking. “Out of sight, out mind” is also true with networking. Monthly mixers, seminars, the annual business expo, leads groups, as well as various business and community committees, negate any excuse for not being able to meet new referrals. You’ll meet people who can help with ideas and supplementary ways to grow your business and offer brilliant products, services, and ideas.
5. Low-cost advertising opportunities. The Alameda Chamber offers varied ways of free and affordable advertising options and sponsorship packages for businesses and nonprofit organizations, regardless of budget size. Keeping your marketing dollars in the community lets you see them working to increase your bottom line.
6. Advocacy. The Chamber researches, discusses, and lobbies with local and regional media, government units, and politicians to keep the public up to date on crucial issues of significance pertaining to its members and community. What happens to the local workforce and consumers does have an influence on your business, whether big or small.
7. Money-saving discounts. When you take charge of your membership and work with the other businesses, it’s not uncommon for a small business to easily find enough savings in the first 30 to 60 days upon joining to recoup most, if not all, of their membership dues. Members who offer health insurance, office supplies, discounted phone and internet service, as well as office and social networking consultants, can work together to bring success to the Alameda business community.
The Chamber is located at 2210 D South Shore Shopping Center and hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.. Stop by and see how becoming a member can help your business thrive!