Recently I wrote an article on the benefits of joining your local Chamber of Commerce as a way of getting exposure for your business. See "Marketing on the Cheap: Join The What?" at this source or at http://sbmag.org. The Chamber of Commerce is or should be the number one organization in your area promoting business. Your involvement will help them indirectly help your business while giving you direct exposure to a large and viable market.
Now let's look at other organizations you, your business and, of course, your community can benefit from by your involvement, but not in that order.
Service Clubs: There are three major service clubs that come to mind, and I'm sure you are familiar with them to some degree already: Rotary International, Kiwanis International and Lions International.
However, don't just run off and join the largest club in your area just because it's the one that gets the most media coverage. As a matter of fact, you shouldn't be joining a service club at all for the sole purposes of promoting your business. You should be joining because it is the right thing to do. The benefits, and there will be benefits, will come indirectly.
Each of the above mentioned organizations have a main charity or area of interest as a national or worldwide project. Lions International for example is recognized worldwide for their service to the blind and visually impaired. Kiwanis' motto is "Serving the Children of the World", and Rotary has had as a long-term goal of the worldwide eradication of polio. Of course, all these organizations are many years old and have branched out into a number of other humanitarian efforts as well. Beyond the national organization's each local club usually has their own projects and objectives.
Fraternal Organizations: Now that you have joined the Chamber of Commerce and are looking at service clubs, you may also want to consider Fraternal Organizations. The first three that come to mind are: The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, Moose International and Fraternal Order of Eagles. Like service clubs, all three of these organizations are national or international with local clubs. However, also like service clubs, there may me others or an independent fraternal organization in your area that is more suited for you and your interests.
Years ago I joined a new Rotary club that just started up in our community. They were, and still are, a great group of people. Their main efforts on the local front was dealing with youth orientated projects, helping to build ball parks, sponsoring scholarships and a few other very worthwhile causes, but no causes I was passionate about. A friend of mine was involved with a group of people that were trying to start a local organization to deal directly with funding anti-drug programs in local schools. My wife being a teacher in the local district, made that seem like a much better place for me to put my efforts. We went on and founded a new Lions Club in which I became a founding officer, a Past President, Lion of the Year and recipient of a national award form Lions International in recognition of my efforts in the fight against drugs. This only happened because I chose the right organization with which to get involved.
I'm not telling you this story just to blow my own horn. Okay, well maybe a little bit. My point is that if you do chose to be a joiner, make it count. Choose one that will give you opportunities of working on projects in which you have an interest.
Once you join a service club or a fraternal organization, get involved! Become active. Consider chairing a committee or becoming part of the leadership. However, don't take on more then you can or want to do. If you make a commitment, make sure you follow through and do the very best job you can. Anything short of that could produce negative public relations for you.
One last thing about belonging to a service club or fraternal organization; your acceptance into one of these organizations is not invitation to unload or launch into a sales pitch at every meeting or at any meetings for that matter. Don't make that mistake. However, there may be opportunities arise for direct marketing such as advertising at club-sponsored events, program guides, newsletters and others. We covered a number of these opportunities in "Marketing On The Cheap: Join The What?", see link above.
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Floyd Snyder is the founder and former owner of Executive Advertising, Camera Ready Art and Strictly Business Magazine. Currently he is the owner of Strictly Business Magazine at http://www.sbmag.org, http://www.FrameHouseGallery.com, http://www.educationresourcesnetwork.com/and http://www.TraderAide.com.