Chamber of commerce executives know more than just about anyone how the digital revolution has transformed the nature of business. They hear it everyday from the shop owners struggling to get people to visit (and purchase) from their bricks and mortar locations, from those negotiating the realities of global supply chains, from those running new kinds of businesses from their home offices or smartphones.
The world has changed. And the most successful chambers of commerce have changed alongside it.
We'll be looking at this issue more closely in tomorrow's free webinar, "Keeping chambers of commerce relevant in a digital world" from 1-2 p.m. EST. UPDATE: click here to view the on-demand video recording of this webinar.
Anissa Starnes knows this well. As former President/CEO of both the Burke County (NC) Chamber and the Gaston Regional (NC) Chamber, as well as a staffer in the Charlotte Chamber going back to 1991, she has seen the changes wrought by digital technology. In her current role as principal for Swingbridge Consulting, LLC, she works to provide solutions for chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and nonprofits.
She believes chambers have to work extra hard to stay relevant in a digital age, when networking is as likely to happen in online forums as off: "People no longer join just because it is 'the right thing to do' so chambers, and really all membership organizations, must be innovative and provide value more than ever."
Anissa points to many chambers' expanding use of social media and email marketing to get their message out and engage with members. She's also been interested to see a new approach to chamber websites. She says, "I think there is a common misconception that social media has replaced websites, therefore I have noticed a lot of chambers not putting a focus on updating their websites, making sure the right information is being offered and that the pertinent information can be easily found. People still go to websites for information – the difference is, our attention spans have gotten even shorter with the immediacy of social media and we want and expect the information on websites to be quick and easy to find."
Anissa argues that chambers must provide data online instead of assuming website visitors will pick up the phone or email to learn more. "Workforce and available talent information is so important to economic development success, so Chamber’s should be telling their stories and selling their communities, because you never know who is researching your community on the Chamber’s website."
"Even if the Chamber is not the “driver” of economic development in your community, the Chamber is always in a “supporting” role and should provide the data that potential businesses relocating need and that certainly is inclusive of information on the community, workforce and all necessary business data."
Learn more about how chambers of commerce can stay relevant in a digital world by clicking here to view the on-demand video recording of this webinar.