As a chamber of commerce professional, you are playing a vital role in fostering economic growth and supporting local businesses. But sometimes it can feel like you are shouting into the wind, hosting events that don’t bring in new faces, and posting to social media with no response. That can be frustrating and discouraging. You know you need member engagement but how? How do you cultivate a culture of engagement?
By fostering active participation, collaboration, and networking, chambers can create an environment that benefits individual businesses and strengthens the entire community. But engagement is not a “one-and-done” activity. It’s a commitment to reframing structure, communication, and events. That’s why we’ve brought you some suggestions on how you can make engagement a priority by simply amplifying what you’re already doing.
Why is a Culture of Engagement Important?
It’s hard to prove the value of membership to a disengaged group. Engagement takes time and effort just like growing any relationship. But your hard work has a lot of benefits. Here’s how creating a culture of engagement will pay off for your chamber:
Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing
A culture of engagement encourages members to share insights, experiences, and best practices. Through collaboration, businesses can learn from one another, find innovative solutions, and collectively contribute to the success of the chamber and the community.
Increased Member Satisfaction
Engaged members feel a stronger sense of belonging and are more likely to renew their membership. When members actively participate and benefit from chamber initiatives, they are more likely to perceive value and remain committed to the organization.
An engaged chamber of commerce stimulates economic growth by fostering connections and generating opportunities. When members actively engage with one another, they open doors to partnerships, collaborations, and referrals, leading to increased business development and revenue generation.
But how do you create a culture of engagement in your chamber?
You begin by committing to it. We touched on the many benefits of having an engaged culture but it’s not something you can do overnight or order out of a catalog. There are several steps to making it a priority:
Tips and Recommendations for Fostering a Culture of Engagement
An engagement culture is a commitment and takes a multi-pronged approach:
- Foster Open Communication: Encourage regular and open communication channels within the chamber. Utilize communication tools such as online forums, SMS messaging, or social media groups to facilitate information sharing, idea generation, and collaboration.
- Host Engaging Events: Organize events that provide opportunities for members to connect and engage with one another. Mix networking events, educational workshops, and industry-specific seminars to cater to a diverse range of interests and needs. Consider hybrid styles for members who find it difficult to attend in-person events. Explore a mixture of fun, educational, and creative activities. Find out what types of events are important to your members by asking them.
- Recognize/Showcase Member Successes: Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of your members. Feature success stories, testimonials, and case studies on your website, social media platforms (don’t forget to tag them), or newsletters. This not only highlights individual accomplishments but also inspires others and promotes engagement.
- Provide Mentorship Programs: Establish mentorship initiatives that connect seasoned professionals with newcomers or less experienced members. You can also host a reverse mentorship program where younger people mentor more seasoned people in areas like technology, marketing to Gen Y&Z, etc. Mentorship programs foster knowledge exchange, professional growth, and a stronger sense of community among members.
- Launch a Referral Group: Bring members together in a way that helps them build relationships and their businesses. The more revenue they make from the referral group, the better they will feel about their membership because revenue from the referral group will likely pay for their chamber membership.
- Encourage Collaboration and Partnerships: Facilitate opportunities for members to collaborate on projects, initiatives, or community-driven activities. By encouraging partnerships, you foster a sense of collective responsibility and provide platforms for members to showcase their expertise.
- Gamify Engagement: Consider implementing gamification elements within your chamber's engagement efforts. Create challenges, contests, or reward systems that incentivize participation, referrals, or knowledge sharing. This idea can ignite friendly competition and increase engagement levels.
- Create Leadership or Certification Programs: A chamber leadership program helps members get to know one another while learning valuable leadership skills and giving back to the community. You can help foster continued relationships through an active leadership program alumni group. A certification program can do the same for people who want to learn a very specified skill over a shorter period.
- Leverage Technology: Utilize networking and referral software platforms to streamline member interactions, track referrals, and gather data. These tools enable chambers to optimize engagement strategies, identify areas for improvement, and foster ongoing growth.
Using Networking and Referral Tracking Software as Building Blocks of Engagement
Networking and referral tracking software platforms provide chambers of commerce with powerful tools to facilitate engagement among their members.
These platforms offer a range of benefits, including:
• Enhanced Connectivity: Networking software enables members to connect easily. Online directories and profiles allow businesses/professionals to showcase their expertise, services, and contact information. • Streamlined Referral Processes: Referral tracking software simplifies and automates the process of generating and tracking referrals within the chamber. By leveraging technology, chambers can encourage and incentivize members to refer business to one another, fostering a culture of reciprocity and support. Chambers and referral group members can see the number of referrals occurring to understand the value of the group. • Data-Driven Insights: These software solutions provide valuable data and analytics that can help chambers understand referral patterns, identify networking gaps, and see top referrers. By gaining insights into the revenue being generated, chambers can ensure their members see the value and want to be a part of it, driving engagement.
A culture of engagement is a powerful asset for a chamber of commerce. By fostering active participation, collaboration, and networking, chambers can create an environment that supports the growth and success of their members and the entire business community.
Engagement is about relationships and if your chamber wants to improve its member engagement, it needs to work on communication. To free up time for relationship-building and communication, you need tools that give you what you need quickly and easily. Learn more about Chamber Forge today .