better or worse, we live in a culture where instant gratification is the
norm. Sometimes we still shop the farmers market for fresh produce,
go to the butcher for the perfect cut of meat, and then spend hours in the
kitchen preparing a meal--but more and more often we expect five minutes in
the microwave to yield a gourmet dinner. Similar expectations abound
in the business world.
Sure, those old textbooks say
that effective marketing requires long-term commitment, that a brand or
message must appear many times in different media before it sinks in--but
you want instant results for your marketing efforts, right? Well,
for relatively instant and effective marketing, you can't beat joining
your local chamber of commerce or one of the business networking groups in
Think about it--these local groups give business and professional folks a
chance to shine in front of dozens of active members under ideal
networking conditions. Many groups meet weekly, bimonthly or around
a special calendar of events and allow members to announce any new
developments or activities going on in their business or professional
lives. And some organizations have publications or Web sites that
offer even more opportunities to publicize your company's success story.
Here are a few guidelines to follow when joining an organization that's
designed to help you network your way into new business and new business
1. Be just as
concerned about doing business with other members as you are about other
members doing business with you.
2. Attend as many
functions as you can. If you're not able to attend an event, try
sending someone from your staff as a substitute.
3. Provide a door
prize at every event you attend. Include some promotional products
with your logo, as well as a gift certificate, or a discount on your
products or services. Include catalogs, brochures or any other
materials that help to promote your business or profession.
4. If the
organization has a newsletter, volunteer to write an article on your
area of expertise. Make copies of the article and send them out with
your invoices, or make a flier and let people read them while they are
waiting in your office.
5. Often, if an
organization has a newsletter, it's looking for news about members. Volunteer to be interviewed. This type of publicity can be
priceless, especially if it's followed up by sending copies of the
article to your key customers, or anyone you want to do business with.
Always remember to send a little note or make a personal call to thank
the writer. As one of the few who do, you'll always stand out in
the writer's mind and become a quotable source in future articles.
6. Be the first to
welcome a new member. Do it with sincerity and not with a business
card or order pad in hand.
7. All organizations
need to raise funds to meet their financial obligations. Help out
where you can, even if it just means returning a call to let an event
organizer know you're not able to participate.
8. If you're unable
to provide financial support to the organization over and above the cost
of membership, volunteer your services for their fundraising activities
and other events. Many organizations have golf outings, luncheons
or other activities where able bodies can play an important role.
9. Donate cocktail
napkins and other disposable items imprinted with your logo or company
message. When these items are used at organizational events, your
message will be inches away from everyone's eyes, often for hours at a
10. When you join the
chamber, you'll meet the cream of the crop in the community--people
accustomed to giving much more than they expect to receive in return.
Don't be someone who takes unfair advantage of that generosity; be one
of the generous ones. Trust is a valuable resource, and it can be
squandered in one or two careless or selfish acts. Always be on
your best behavior. The goal of joining these organizations is to
build relationships that will last a lifetime.
Follow this lead and you can
expect results that quickly turn into new
business and, more importantly,
new business relationships. Try it for the
next 12 months--you'll be
glad you did.
runs a full-service promotional agency offering a wide range of services,
including trade show and event planning, media placement, writing and
editing. He has written hundreds of articles like this one for chamber
newsletters and other business-related publications.
For more information, call Mike at (412) 233-5491 or
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