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Why Schools Should Join a Chamber of Commerce



Chambers can be a good part of a school's fundraising and marketing strategy. Your school is another business in the community, and joining a chamber helps you develop a business mindset for your school.


By definition, this is an organization that exists to help promote a business community. They’re local to where you set up shop and serve as a way to bring together all the professionals in town.


Pros of Schools Joining a Chamber of Commerce

Put on your rose-colored glasses for a minute and consider why a chamber of commerce might be a good idea. Several benefits include:


  • School exposure

  • Enrollment

  • Sponsorship Fundraising

  • Mailing List Access

  • Grants and funding

  • Getting your voice heard

  • Freebies and discounts

  • Special Learning Partnerships

School Exposure - Brand Omnipresence

Entrepreneurs, business professionals, and politicians are all involved in the chamber. If they see that you’re also involved, this is another area where you’ve made your name known in the community and contributed to brand awareness outside of your gates. That’s when you begin to achieve omnipresence (you’re everywhere!)


Enrollment

New business owners and professionals are constantly moving into town. They have families, and their kids need to go to school somewhere. Involvement in your chamber makes you a possible referral source if someone asks for a great school to attend.


Sponsorship Fundraising through Networking Opportunities

You will mix, mingle, and rub elbows with other professional community members at various events. This can lead to opportunities for your school, including sponsorships and strategic partnerships.


Think of businesses your families have relationships with, as well as ones that are close

to your school. Below is a list of the most common types of businesses that may make great sponsors.

  • Construction / Engineering / Home Improvement

  • Doctor / Hospital / Dentist / Orthodontist

  • Restaurants

  • Fitness / Sports (Karate, Gymnastics, Soccer Leagues, Swimming Instruction, Etc.)

  • Real Estate (Realtor, Mortgage)

  • Automotive (Car Wash, Dealers, Tire Repair, Etc.)

  • Child Services / Education / Tutoring / Summer Camps

  • Chamber of Commerce - The chamber will likely sponsor your school because they want exposure.

  • Entertainment complexes / Party Complexes (Monster Mini Golf, Jump Zone, Etc)

Mailing List Access

Your local chamber of commerce likely has a directory with contact information for every business in the network. It’s beneficial if you have a school liaison in your school that’s in charge of soliciting sponsorship and partnerships with local businesses.


Grants & Funding

If you’re part of a chamber of commerce, you’ll have a community with your best interests at heart. They may even be able to help you find business grants and funding that you otherwise wouldn’t have known existed.


Getting Your Voice Heard

United, we stand. By being part of a chamber, you’re with other like-minded business owners who want to succeed. You can bring concerns to your local government, like regulations, taxes, or costs that negatively impact you.


Freebies & Discounts

Overall, chambers of commerce can be a ton of fun. They host events and sometimes even offer promotional gifts or epic raffle prizes. Not only that, but networking might score coupons or deals from nearby businesses that you can give your teachers or families, whether a tasty restaurant or a carpet cleaning service.


Special Learning Partnerships

The sky is the limit regarding educational partnerships that can be found or created through a chamber. For example, some chambers offer a student entrepreneurship program. These programs help motivate high school students who want to start and run their businesses. In collaboration with area high schools, students who are awarded for entering the program will learn how to network with other business owners, learn how to present themselves and their business at networking events, how to give an elevator pitch, public speaking opportunities, mentoring by established business owners and more.


Should Your School Join a Chamber of Commerce?

Ultimately, the final decision is in your hands. If you’ve got the manpower and money, a chamber of commerce can be a great way to build brand omnipresence in the local community. You never know who you’ll meet and where those relationships will lead.


Take time to think carefully about the pros and cons of joining a chamber of commerce. It’s only one of your many choices as a school!


How to Brand Your School at Chamber Events

You will want to show up with marketing and branding material that makes sense for the business world. You’re not going to enroll students; you’re going there to interact with entrepreneurs, professionals, and politicians that are also there to see how they can further their interests.


With that in mind, here are ways to show up and show off your brand.


  • School Shirts - Branded polos or button-up shirts (have a uniform!)

  • School Lanyard - A school lanyard with your school ID (and business cards behind it)

  • Business Cards - have your business cards ready to give out

  • School Sponsorship Brochure - Be ready to give a potential sponsor your brochure, or grab their cell phone to text them a link to the sponsorship page on your website (and don’t forget to follow up!)

  • Table / Booth Setup - If you plan on getting a table or booth at an event, make sure you have the table cloth, step and repeat backdrop, or retractable banners, so you show up to impress.


Other Ways to Leverage Your Chamber Membership

Now that you’re a member, start to figure out ways to leverage your membership. For example,


  • Add the Chamber logo to your website footer

  • Announce your chamber membership on LinkedIn and tag the chamber and all of its leaders

  • Host a Chamber Event at your school - If you want to be seen as a leader in the business community, the Chamber is one of the best places to start. With a small investment, you can host a Chamber mixer. Hosting also gives you a chance to promote your school on your terms. Keep in mind that there may be a queue to host official events. In the meantime, you can provide an "open house" for your school to introduce itself to the community.


Brainstorm Ways to Support the Chamber

Ask not what your chamber of commerce can do for you but what you can do for your chamber of commerce!


A great way to get engaged is to give back to your local chamber and provide value to the organization. For example, if your school can offer volunteers for chamber events.


Follow Up With the People You Meet

Lastly, your chamber experience will only be as good as your ability to follow up.


Networking is a process. To grow your leads, you need to reconnect with the people you meet and remind them how awesome you are. Follow up with your newfound connections when you collect business cards or contact information at events. You can thank them for the engaging conversation or offer to help them with a problem they have.


Too often, we attend networking events and conferences to ignore the people we meet. The business cards they collect rot in a drawer while names and faces are forgotten.


Your local chamber can put together fun events and valuable networking opportunities. However, it’s up to you to make the most of them.



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