You have heard it all before. Most communities have a chamber of commerce. Advisors are told to join. They have lots of meetings and events, lots of financial advisors too. You attend networking events where you are surrounded by people trying to sell you something. These folks all seem to hold junior positions at big firms. Where are the big fish? It can feel like a waste of time. Rethink the organization before you throw in the towel and choose not to renew.

Two Logical Answers For One Major Complaint
There seems to be one advisor who “owns the room.” Every non-advisor you talked with mentioned their name. They were a vice president in the chamber or held some other elected position. That advisor seems to have sewn this place up.

1. That advisor does not have everyone as their client. According to the member directory, there are 1,200 Chamber members. That advisor might have name recognition, but all 1,200 members are not their clients! At the very least, there are personality differences. There is plenty of opportunity with members who need to invest yet have not signed on with the well-known advisor for some reason.

2. That advisor may have moved onto bigger things. It costs money to make a name for yourself. It takes time. That advisor might have joined the Chamber 10 years ago. After years of effort, they raised their visibility to the point when they were tapped on the shoulder and invited onto the board at the hospital! Now they are surrounded by CEOs! That is a more expensive arena in terms of board dues, buying a table at the charity gala and making other contributions. They may have eased themselves away from chamber involvement yet still belong. Word gets out you are joining committees, volunteering your time and raising your visibility. You are encroaching on their territory. They need to make the decision to either throttle back on hospital involvement to refocus on the Chamber or continue stepping away from the Chamber to focus on cultivating relationships at the hospital. Which do you think they will choose? The choice should be clear.

There Is More Than One Chamber
A big mistake people make is considering the Chamber of Commerce as a single entity. It’s an easy mistake to make because we refer to it as “The Chamber.” In reality, there are often multiple chambers in the area.

1. The big chamber. You know the one. The title often includes the word “metro.” This chamber has the most visibility, the most members and the most financial advisors.

2. The chamber with the larger geography. There is often a state chamber. If your area has several counties nearby, each county often has a chamber. They cover a wider area but often have less members than the metro chamber, just like the metro area has the larger population.

3. Neighborhood chambers. Not everyone chooses to be a small fish in a big pond. If you do some digging you might find your city also has a northside chamber, a western chamber, an airport area chamber and a downtown business association. Each represents a different segment of the city.

4. Suburban chambers. The suburbs are often a collection of smaller towns along commuter rail lines. They are often towns and cities themselves. They often have their own chambers or a couple pair up to be one chamber for the two towns.

5. Cultural chambers. Many metro areas have a Hispanic chamber, a Black chamber and an Asian chamber of commerce. They are not based on defined geography, but shared cultural background instead.

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