Local chambers of commerce are an excellent way for business owners to grow their business, but when you join a professional organization there a number of great opportunities that are not available with a chamber of commerce membership.
Any business can become a chamber of commerce member and there are no limitations, even if there are multiple companies in the same line of work.
This can be a disadvantage for your company because now you’re competing for business with your competitors.
Chambers of commerce usually will have an event either once a month or annually, and are open to members and nonmembers with the attendance varying at each event.
Many chamber functions revolve around a social setting at a different location for each event and since networking with other members is done before and after the event, you might miss an opportunity to speak with someone in attendance.
Professional organizations operate significantly different than a local chamber of commerce.
The purpose for joining a professional organization is to obtain and share business leads/referrals with other group members.
Almost all professional organizations meet at the same location with a regularly set time and date on a weekly basis for an organized meeting.
There is no limit as to how many companies can join a professional organization, but most will only allow one member per category to avoid companies competing for business.
However, if your company offers duel services such as graphic and web design, you will be able to represent only one category and will not be able to accept leads for the other part of your business.
Some professional organizations will ask that you bring a set minimum number of leads/referrals to every meeting and if you don’t make your weekly quota, then expect to a pay a fee set by that professional organization. You will have to ask each organization how the fees are allocated.
However, joining a chamber of commerce and professional organization has three things in common.
- Pay a membership fee every year to remain an active member.
- Pay for your attendance at networking events or for leads/referrals that you did not provide.
- The opportunity to grow your business with leads/referrals for people that would like to conduct business with your company.
Here’s a list of professional organizations you can join:
- BNI International – Business Networking and Referrals
- Leads Club Los Angeles
- Ladies Who Lunch Los Angeles
- Black N LA
- Asian Business Association
- All Cities Networking Group
- The Financial Executives Networking Group (The FENG)
- Venture Street
- Los Angeles Meetup Groups
- Greater Los Angeles TechAmerica
- LeTip International, Inc.
- Westside Women Leads Club