It's hard for me for me to believe that in June, I'll have worked for the Greater Lowell Chamber for 5 years. The past 5 years have been extremely good to me... I bought a house, got married, had Zoe and have another one on the way any day now.
Not everyone knows this, but prior to getting the job at the Chamber, I was an active member for several years. I started out by attending events, then I joined the Community Service Committee and shortly thereafter I became a board member - eventually landing the role as co-chair of the board.
When I stepped down from the board to apply for the job as President I was taking a risk. I was 28 years old at the time and believed in the Chamber so much that I was willing to put myself in a vulnerable position leaving a role that I enjoyed to hopefully land a role that I knew I would love.
This was a very public move and the risk of not getting the job was great since I was young and lacked experience. Luckily for me, the board was willing to take the chance on me. This is something that I am grateful for everyday. There's nothing like waking up and going to a job that I truly love.
Why am I sharing this story? Because after all these years of being a member and then an employee of the Chamber, I believe it what we do more now than ever. While Chambers of Commerce have certainly changed throughout the years, our relevance is a strong as ever because we truly make a difference in the fate of a small businesses and organizations. When a business joins the Chamber, they are backed by a team that not only cares about their success, but also has the resources available to help them grow, network, connect and succeed.
True, every Chamber is different. We are housed in different communities and have developed different personalities and cultures. Our benefits may vary. The resources and partners that we have are not the same. But our foundation and our passion for helping our members links us together in a unique way that only someone who truly stands behind the concept of a Chamber of Commerce will completely understand.
If you've ever asked yourself...
- Is a Chamber of Commerce still relevant?
- Why should I bother joining my local Chamber?
- What is the Chamber actually doing for me?
- Each Chamber is relevant in it's own unique way because we work hard to stay connected in the community, offer new and innovative benefits and to be a strong resource for our members and community as a whole.
- When you join your local Chamber you are showing the community that you value being a part of it. When you support the community, the community will support you.
- The Chamber is always working hard behind the scenes to ensure that we are the best possible resource for our members. This includes planning networking events, education seminars, connecting with local and state officials, promoting and marketing the local economy and fostering relationships with new and existing business resource partners that can offer our members what we may lack.
And this is why I love my job. I believe in what a Chamber of Commerce can do for it's members, because I've been a member and I saw what it did for me. Joining the Chamber was a game changer for me and it's led to so many opportunities and so many amazing (lasting) relationships.
So if you're not a member of your local Chamber, please give it a try. And if you are a member, please reach out to the staff and let them know why you love being a member. It will mean more to them than you'll ever know!
About Danielle McFadden: Danielle is the proud President of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce (located in Lowell, Massachusetts) and a marketing enthusiast. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her onTwitter or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.