At a time when people and businesses are more isolated than ever before, professional association membership is proving even more valuable. Organizations like the Hampton Roads Chamber are built to better serve their members in times of need.
It’s within these tough economic environments that association members realize the exceptional value of advocacy and collaboration as traditional forms of networking and business development struggle to provide the same return on investment.
Advocacy has always played a leading role for pro-business organizations and industry associations working to ensure their investors’ voices are heard at the local, regional, state and national levels. The role of an advocate is especially valuable when serving small and middle-sized businesses. The heartbeat of a local economy, small business owners seldom have the resources to employ a governmental affairs representative. Instead, they look to their industry associations and chambers of commerce to ensure their voices are heard by elected officials. All for a fraction of the cost that would be too high for these professionals individually.
Times of crisis are many times a catalyst for collaboration in many communities. Industry associations, like the chamber, have always recognized that there is power in numbers. In times of crisis, the importance of collective impact is the driving force behind creating purposeful partnerships, solving regional challenges, and coming together with a shared mission and vision for successful response and recovery. Local leaders are brought together by their associations to cooperate not as competing businesses, but as partners. They are leaders within their businesses, their industry and their community for the common purpose of setting the conditions for business to succeed.
Even in these unique times of social distancing and virtual communication, networking continues to play an immensely important role, and one facilitated each day by local and regional associations. From the earliest days of your local chamber of commerce to national conferences and industry-specific associations, these professional groups lead the way in connecting executives at every level of their profession. No matter the manner in which we do so, networking continues to be the engine that moves business forward.
Local, regional, and national organizations are exceptional at adapting their platforms to best serve their members. From live events to virtual programs, associations are nimble teams, able to adapt in ways that best serve their partners. This has been especially true as chambers of commerce and business associations throughout the nation quickly pivoted to online platforms, while retaining the generations-old tradition of good old-fashioned referrals.
Today’s budgets, at both large and small businesses, are being scrutinized like few other times in our nation’s history. With that comes a renewed focus on those resources providing the greatest value for the business owners, chief financial officers, and marketing directors at every company. Membership with the chamber and your local business association means one investment can provide the combined value of advocacy, marketing, networking, leadership development, and regional collaboration. The return on investment has never been greater.
Tage S. Counts is Vice President of Membership for the Hampton Roads Chamber.