The Phelps Chamber hosted a Social Mixer on Thursday, May 21st at Eddie B’s White Spruce Restaurant in Eagle River. The evening featured a very informative and insightful presentation by Delta County Chamber Executive Director Vickie Micheau. Vickie shared with attendees tips about maximizing Chamber membership returns through the top 10 ways that a Chamber can help a business, as she has learned through years of involvement with a successful and active Chamber.
The evening started with tasty refreshments prepared by Ed and his White Spruce team, including smoked meatballs. Attendees gathered together in the log room of the historic restaurant to talk and listen both. Vickie moved around the room as she spoke, allowing all of the guests to chime in and ask questions. It was a very comfortable atmosphere, although jokes were made that the gathering really should have taken place on a pontoon boat to enjoy the beautiful weather!
The Power of Networking Through Your Chamber
Highlights of the top 10 shared include networking opportunities, promotions, and referrals. The Phelps, Land O’Lakes and Conover Chambers are currently launching a Business After 5 series that will provide more networking opportunities for members of each of the three local Chambers. Businesses that choose to host such networking evenings gain exposure with other Chamber members and have the chance to showcase their business, products, and services. This is like being offered face-to-face advertising, just for putting out some snacks and opening your doors to people just like you!
Vickie believes that the networking benefits available to Chamber members may be one of the most important aspects of membership, and one that each business should take full advantage of. “All you have to do is bring your business cards, put on a smile, and show up!”, she says. In addition to events like Business After Hours, Chamber annual dinners and other outings are also great opportunities to meet fellow members and make important connections.
Marketing Our Local Businesses Every Day
When it comes to advertising and promotions, Chambers are invaluable resources for their business members. Vickie explained that businesses should see their local Chamber as their “best unpaid sales staff”, as membership dues are often significantly lower than other forms of advertising and are ongoing throughout the year. These promotions range from website links on the Chamber website to inclusion in newsletters and email blasts.
And of course, referrals from your local Chamber can play a big part in the value of the small yearly dues. The Phelps Chamber receives many inquiries about local lodging, dining and services in the area. It is our Chamber members that we offer to such calls or emails. And because we are a small community, the office is often able to match up the caller’s personal interests and tastes to the best suited business.
Many Benefits to Chamber Memberships
Vickie also shared some of the other benefits that the Delta County Chamber offers their members, the ones that are most valued by the businesses. These include:
- Money saving benefits, such as group health insurance, loan discounts, and discounted energy services
- Professional and community development, including a leadership development program, local ambassadors, and Upper Edge Professionals
- Members only publications, which refers to inclusion in items like the membership directory, swag bags that are given out during conferences and events, and of course display racks with promotional materials
- Member to Member discounts: Delta County uses a system called Keys to Success to share various discounts between chamber members, a benefit that many appreciate.
- Community calendar of events, which is shared widely
- Community collaboration, which allows Chamber personal to represent members when the members cannot be present themselves and to work with other community organizations to enhance the business economy of the area
Communication is Key to a Successful Partnership
The importance of communication between the Chamber and the members was highlighted. “Help us help you”, was the way Marketing Committee member John Volkmann put it. And Vickie agreed, “the more information you provide us with, the more we can spread the word”. Most local Chambers make a point to educate their members on how to utilize benefits, but it is a lesson that is often unheard. However, we never mind repeating it! We know that our members are very busy and pressed for time.
And it’s not just sharing updates about what’s going on in your business that is valuable. Answering survey questions and providing feedback to your local Chamber ensures that each businesses needs are being met, and allows the Chamber to better meet your membership goals.
The Chamber personnel and members that attended enjoyed an evening of great conversation, and look forward to more such events in the future. For more information on the Social Mixer or upcoming events, please contact the Phelps Chamber Office.