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Is a Chamber of Commerce membership still relevant today?

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

“As a member of the chamber of commerce, you will be listed in the chamber newsletter, and online directory, and will have the opportunity to be highlighted in other chamber publications. You also can grow your business by advertising with the chamber and sponsoring events”.

1 Why you should join a service-providing Chamber

Whilst preparing myself mentally to write yet another Blog and struggling to shrug off the writer’s block (that’s what the pros called it but I think it is just plain laziness) I came across the following article in cyberspace which really tickled my interest and of cause it also raised the hair on the back of my neck. This came from the site of the “Professional Consultants Association of Central New York”.

…..”There are a bunch of things a Chamber will not do for you. They will not market for you, (Wrong) though they’ll give you opportunities to market through them (Right). They will not connect you with someone who might be able to use your services (Wrong), and they probably won’t ever remember what you do (Wrong), unless you’re a large business, to even think about recommending you to someone else (Wrong). They won’t scrutinize members unless they do something blatantly illegal, so you will run into jerks from time to time (Snob). They won’t teach you how to network, though sometimes they’ll hold a class where they’ll have someone talking about networking (Wrong). They will come to you from time to time to ask you to give a presentation to the membership, but you will never get paid (I know, as I’ve given five presentations). (Scrooge) …..”

This “professional Consultant” has obviously never belonged to a modern business chamber that uses the internet to the advantage of its members. He must be from the old school that thinks the only way to market is still on billboards or printed advertising.

I also came across the following article and I quote;

……”The Chamber as it is known is the place to network and connect with other local business owners. However, I learned something from this experience. I do not even like to network and connect. If you are a person like me, should you even bother joining your local Chamber? (Good question)

Ask yourself some questions. Do you have a business that will make money on other businesses? If you have a B2B company, the answer is yes. If you run an ice cream shop then it is doubtful. Also, are you willing or able to attend the social functions offered? I quickly learned that there are multiple meetings every month. If you are considering joining, try getting a calendar of events. Then decide which you would enjoy going attending. Do you notice I say enjoy? There is no faking your way around networking. You must be present at these events to establish relationships and have a good time doing it……... (True)

Both these articles are all very pertinent and they express real objections against Chamber membership, but that should not stop you from joining a modern Business Chamber.

2. What is the purpose of a modern Chamber of Commerce?

Let us firstly look at the definition of a Chamber of Commerce(extract from the members-manual of the East Rand Chamber of Commerce and Industry)

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, cities and countries form these local and national societies to advocate and be the accumulative business voice of that community.

Chambers also have a consultative function; this means the chambers must employ expertise to advise their members on a broad spectrum of subjects such as;

· Legal requirements and new legislation imposed by authoritative institutes.

· Provision of Local, national and international economics, business reports and forecasts.

· Encouraging, maintaining and entertaining a strong network facility amongst its members.

In brief, it is thus true to say that a modern Chamber of Commerce must be able to achieve the following for its members:

1. Modern and effective business networking through properly constructed websites and presence in all social media, not just cookie and tea events.

2. Consultation on all government regulations and requirements.

3. Consultation and implementation of not only regulated requirements but also implementation of a solid and profit-generating inbound marketing system.

4. Representation on all levels i.e. Municipal, Metro, District, Provincial and Governmental.


Unlike European counties where Chamber membership is compulsory and membership is payable as a tax, in South Africa membership to a Chamber of Commerce is voluntary.Therefore you may now choose which chamber would provide you with the best value for money and which Chamber will provide the required services.However, to be able to comply, a Chamber requires funds to employ the necessary expertise. That does not mean that it should cost the member an arm and a leg.On the contrary, membership fees could be employed much like medical schemes and insurance contributions and become very affordable as the membership numbers increase

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