By Roger Byrne
Hopefully after the holiday period and ringing in the New Year everyone has had a chance to do some navel gazing look at their work/life position and readjusted their plans for 2015. This may be everything from fitness and health to full on business planning and investment and the New Year provides the traditional kick-off point for implementing this plan.
We get a lot of inquires from businesses at this time of year that want to find out more about the benefits of being in a chamber, so it is probably worth outlining some of the feedback we receive from members.
#golocal – there are enormous positives from the use of local businesses that flow on to the community, not least the fact that it will create more jobs, help connect businesses help build the business community and allow businesses to leverage their networks.
Networks – for both people who are starting out in business, and those who have been in business for a long time the importance of networking cannot be overstated. You should not spread yourself to thin, but it is important to constantly remind people that you are around, and what it is that you do. Social media is important for a business in this day and age, but it cannot replace a face to face greeting. Business Chambers will provide opportunities to network with other local businesses, and it is important to understand that it is not just the direct contact but it also the network of contacts that every individual has that you should be leveraging.
You are not alone – many people who work in small business will be use to moments of anxiety and stress where you can feel out of your depth and overwhelmed. Being part of a chamber gives you the support of your peers, many of whom will know exactly what you are experiencing and they can be used as a sounding board for your business plans and problems. Regular meetings and catch-ups with fellow members allow for the build up of friendship and trust between businesses and will increase referrals. Many chambers have dedicated networking/referral group that meet regularly to support each other’s business. Always remember that a rising tide will float all boats, so when the local community is doing more business then everybody benefits.
Local Updates – it is important for your business that you know what is going on locally as well as regionally and nationally. Your local chamber should be able to provide regular updates to businesses about what is happening in the local community. In the past few months in Parramatta alone there have been many announcements that may benefit the local business community such as Light Rail, Pirtek Stadium upgrade, development of the North Parramatta Heritage Precinct, the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum and Parramatta Park and walkways investment to name but a few.
Advocacy for Business – if there is something happening that is affecting your business at a local, state or even national level you are more than likely not alone. The chamber is there to provide assistance to businesses in getting their point across and being heard, and in following up local representative to lobby for the equitable treatment of businesses across a level playing field. This is equally applicable if you have good ideas that will benefit the local community, the chamber can help to provide resources and support to help you develop ideas.
To get the most out of a chamber membership, you need to be an active part of the chamber, attending events and meeting up with other members on a regular basis and who knows where this will take your business in 2015.