Improved Networking Through Education Generating Relationships Increases The Yield


What Is Free When Networking Your Business at the Chamber?

As we look at our company’s products and/or services, one of our main goals is to create win/win. Seeing our clients enjoying the fruits of our service is a sign of our success. A customer who benefits from our product is satisfied, as are we. Strategic Alliances benefit when they receive a great referral. We give that referral freely, with no anticipation of a return, again creating win/win.

Many business owners look at their local chambers of commerce as places to get things free, such as a free map or relocation packet. Entrepreneurs, looking for marketing advantage, will offer some services free to the chamber. The idea is that their service is unique. However, competitors offering the same or similar services want the same advantage. This causes a dilemma for the chamber and its staff. Traditional chambers of commerce did, (and some still do), offer information about member businesses free however, chambers need to operate as businesses. Many need to charge for services, including maps and relocation packets. Chambers also must charge for advertising income for their organization.

When studying ‘What is Free?’ (evaluating FREE) at the chamber of commerce, interesting analysis can be made. As an example, do all chambers benefit from free services provided by member companies? Say a telephone system is donated to the chamber of commerce, and the telephone vendor requests exclusive chamber advertising rights. Does that benefit the chamber and its membership? Not when there are competing companies in the chamber or surrounding area for that telephone service. (But it would in a rural county chamber of commerce, where there was only one telephone system available). No matter what the value of the telephone system, there is no value in the cost of FREE when competing with other service providers. Remember that a large portion of chamber of commerce revenues is based on new members and renewals. By offering one company an exclusive on a product or service, the message sent to competitors is ‘We don’t want your membership.’ If the desire is pure, if you truly want to donate free products or services, then do so with no strings attached.

I have seen businesses get out of sorts with their chamber because the chamber would not allow them to give free services. FREE cannot be a marketing tool because your competitors want the same marketing advantage you want. We are then back to free meaning that everything at the chamber is free.

The cost of FREE is the loss of revenue from other chamber members and potential members who offer similar benefits. Featuring any benefit that can not be offered by all members creates a win/lose relationship. The win is for the exclusive telephone vendor; the lose is for the chamber of commerce and the competing vendors. FREE often means doing something for which we would otherwise receive payment, or requesting less payment than normal. We frequently see real estate professionals asked to reduce fees after transactions are completed. Please remember that chamber revenues will be hampered because staff will have greater difficulty recruiting/retaining members. Exclusivity works in networking clubs; in chambers of commerce, it puts handcuffs on staff.

One way a win can be created is with health insurance. Many chambers of commerce offer group-style health plans for small business owners who do not qualify for insurance due to a pre-existing medical condition. These chambers offer low-cost, good-benefits health plans, which the majority of insurance providers can vend through group arrangements appointed by the insurance carrier. Their members benefit, the health insurance provider benefits, and the chamber benefits. When everyone benefits, we have win/win.

Gerry Rose runs INTEGRITY Networking Solutions in Oceanside, CA. He works with realtors who want to attract the right prospects and their affinity partners who want to generate more referrals. More than 10,000 businesses have been presented the INTEGRITY Networking Solutions system in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange Counties.

Gerry’s stimulating presentation Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals is ideally suited for small business owners, home-based businesses, and independent professionals who want clearer direction and want to attract more prospects, develop dynamic systems, and strengthen their companies’ accountability. Gerry does one on one consulting, conducts a range of keynote speeches from thirty minutes to full-day education workshops.

His books, Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, 101 Tips to Attract Prospects, 101 Tips to Generate Referrals and Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, Giving Your Clients What They WANT, So You Get What You WANT are currently available. Unlimited Prospects, Unlimited Referrals, Using Your Time, Energy, and Creativity to Create Value, will be available in 2006.

Gerry has more than 20 years’ experience directing business owners how to grow their businesses. He is a networking dynamo. Those who know him will assure you that he does a great job of bringing people together’which is why he started Integrity.

Involved with networking organizations since 1984, Gerry is an Accomplished Toastmaster, a member of Toastmaster International, and has chaired numerous chambers of commerce and non-profit organizations.

Are you truly committed to attracting the right prospects and generate more referrals?  If so then contact INTEGRITY Networking Solutions for availability and information.  You can contact Gerry by mail at 1610 Quiet Hills Drive, Oceanside, CA 92056.  Direct dial (760) 439-4623; e-mail to  For more information, go to

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