Opinion

Not the time to drop Chamber membership

CHAMBER CHAT

A struggling business owner indicated she couldn’t renew her membership in the Chamber because her “bookkeeper advised her not to.”

It was clear the advice was given because the member business was having to cut back and Chamber membership, along with other memberships, subscriptions and advertising, were considered luxuries that couldn’t be afforded.

While I can understand the bottom line consideration, I wonder about the harm done to a struggling business when cutbacks are made in the areas most important to survival and setting oneself above the ordinary. If you are struggling to get customers in the door, is it a wise move to cut back on the ways you reach out to them? If you are trying to grow your business, does it make sense to eliminate the means by which you can reach out directly to nearly 400 other business owners and professionals?

Consider the following as reasons to join or maintain a membership with your area Chamber:

1. Networking and new business contacts help your business grow. There are a variety of networking groups in the community, but your Chamber provides you with a broad base and diverse cross section of professionals at an affordable rate.

2. Publicity and exposure opportunities heighten your name recognition so customers know who you are. Be one of the first businesses a visitor or new arrival finds through your connection with the Chamber. The Chamber office is very often the first place someone calls or visits looking for a business referral. You can promote your business in the Chamber office, through Chamber publications and events.

3. Referrals and sales opportunities deliver a return on your membership investment. When someone asks, Chamber members are always referred first.

4. Targeted and affordable advertising help you advertise your business effectively on a small budget. Partnerships with local media on special projects also stretch your advertising dollars.

5. Your membership adds to the collective voice creating a strong local economy, keeping business momentum moving forward.

6. You make a statement that you are committed to promoting the community to help Central Kitsap residents enjoy greater opportunities.

7. Access to information and resources to help you build your business.

8. Insurance opportunities; large or small, your business can take advantage of a number of plans offering discounts because you are a Chamber member. You and your employees deserve to be covered.

I’m not telling you anything new when I say that money is tight. People are being more cautious in how they spend. Don’t let fear keep you from making what would be a good investment in your business.

Let’s debunk some of the common push-backs for not joining. The Silverdale Chamber is not a “conservative organization;” it does not take direction from any party idea or affiliation. Likewise, the Silverdale Chamber is an independent organization not affiliated with the US Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is for businesses of all sizes. In Silverdale, nearly half of our membership base represents businesses with four or fewer employees.

While I can’t speak for all of them, the Silverdale Chamber is neither “cliquish” nor a “good old boys” club. Our membership spans an eclectic group of professions. Active participants in the organization describe it as “vibrant,” “fun,” “welcoming” and “friendly”. We’d like to share some of that with you.

Please stop by Costco Wholesale on Saturday, May 16 for our fifth annual Home-based Business Expo, the exhibitors will be there from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As always, you are invited to attend our monthly luncheon. This month, we will be hosting roundtable discussions on “What’s working for you?” Our business showcase theme will be ‘Business 2 Business.’ The lunch will take place on May 27 at the Silverdale Beach Hotel at 11:30 a.m.

If you want more information about what’s going on at the Chamber, you can subscribe to our weekly e-mail newsletter by sending a note to subscribe@silverdalechamber.com. Until next month, remember to shop Silverdale!

Darla Murker is the executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce.

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