As we continue with our discussion of ways to leverage your local community for your small business, we would be remiss not to talk about local clubs and organizations.
There are a number of benefits to joining local organizations. First, it’s a great way to network with other business owners who you might be able to partner with in the future. Also, your business might offer a product or service that an individual in the organization would be interested in. Or maybe you are looking to learn from people who have gone before you and benefit from their knowledge on things like local laws and ordinances, vendors they’ve used, opportunities you might not have heard about, etc. Finally, when you attend functions and are a part of a group, the other members feel a sense of loyalty and genuinely want to help your business succeed through referrals.
With all of these benefits, joining up almost seems like a no brainer. Even as a busy entrepreneur, it’s important to make time for networking. So which group should you join? There are lots of different community and service organizations available, and they will all service a networking purpose — even if they are not strictly focused on business. Here are two popular options:
1. Chamber of Commerce
The name kind of gives this one away, even if you’re not familiar with it. Chamber of Commerce is an organization that is largely focused on networking and education for business owners. They offer lots of educational resources, meetings, events, and more through local chapters. The easiest way to locate your local chapter is honestly by doing a Google search. Our local chapter here in Silver Spring offers lots of great events, programs, and membership perks. If you are serious about your business, it’s worth your time to look into joining your local Chamber for the support the organization can give you in achieving your goals.
2. Service Organizations
Though the most oldest and most well known service organizations do not offer the wealth of resources for small businesses that the Chamber can, their networking value is undeniable. Getting to know local leaders, business people, and potential customers is worth your time. And hey, you get the added perk of doing good in the world! The oldest service organization is Rotary International, whose members now have clubs in 200+ nations. Rotary is secular, and it aims to provide humanitarian service on a global scale. The cause they are most well-known for championing is the eradication of Polio. Similarly, the Kiwanis International members serve on a world-wide scale, and they focus on issues affecting children as their main pursuit. Lions Clubs International was founded with a bit more of a local community focus that seeks to get business leaders involved in their local communities. Those communities can be found all over the globe, but members work locally to their organization. Lions is the largest of the three, with 1.35 million members. They are most famous for their work toward finding a cure for blindness. They offer lots of different special interest groups that are often focused around a particular profession.
However you choose to get involved, you’re sure to reap the benefits in one way or another. Whether personally or professionally, having a close-knit network that is invested in your success can be a priceless asset for your small business. Have you been involved with any of the organizations we discussed? Tell us about your experience in the comments.