The chamber of commerce, a place where much business is conducted. The goal is simple, to further the goals of its members’ business interests. There are usually several chambers of commerce in a locale, with individuals being required to become members in order to be allow access. Once a member, it is possible for individuals to use a chapters resources to pursue their own business objectives — this is usually to increase sales.

Chambers can vary in size comprising from but a few members to hundreds of thousands. China is thought to have some of the largest chambers in the world. There are several different chamber models:

Community Chambers

Commonly found in the US, these chambers are local and aim to develop and bring the business community together. The aim is to build longstanding networks for mutual gain and inter-business exchange. In the majority of cases, chambers work with the local authority (e.g., mayors, councils, and initiatives)

City Chambers

These chambers stretch back for centuries within the United States. Today there are more than 3,000 chambers — more than 100 represent overseas business. The oldest chapter dates back to 1773 — the Charlestone Chamber of Commerce.

State Chambers

These chambers, as the name suggests, work on much wider commercial issues — typically federal and/or state level. Similarly to how community chambers work with local officials, state chambers work with state officials like governors, senators, congressmen, etc.

National and International Chambers

As the name suggests, chambers offer national and international support to those members who need it.

Compulsory/Public Law Chambers

Under certain law, some businesses (eg organizations over a certain size) must join a chamber. This module is mostly found in Europe and Japan. These chambers focus on foreign trade, training, services, and products, and general business development.

Continental/Private Law Chambers

This model is usually only found in English-speaking countries. Companies in these chambers do not need to become members, making them simpler to manage from a business perspective. Although many business owners still endeavor to join as to build a community and to network effectively.

Multilateral Chambers

These chambers comprise companies based in different countries. Typically all business within the chamber have commonality among their business practices. These chambers are also independent entities, which work to strengthen business ties among members. It’s worth noting that membership is by invite only. Therefore it is important to know a member at some level if you’re to be offered an opportunity to join.

The next question: will joining a chamber of commerce benefit your business? Well, that all depends on a few variables. How big is your business? Where are you based? What chambers are available to you? Can you afford membership? These are a few of many question you’ll need to ask yourself before joining. By in large, many business owners experience significant gains in sales when joining a chapter. Over and above the networking, there are significant resources available to member that mustn’t be over looked.

Chamber of commerce membership isn’t for every business owner… but you should at least look into it.