As I’ve traveled around the country speaking to chamber executive associations this past year, the question I have been asked several times is: “This all sounds good, but how exactly do we make our chamber a 3C Chamber—what steps do we need to take?”
Unfortunately, the pathway to becoming a 3C Chamber that is a catalyst for business growth, a convener of leaders and influencers to get things done, and a champion for a thriving community is not a simple step-by-step process like following a recipe to make your favorite dessert.
Becoming a 3C Chamber has a lot to do with what you do and what you communicate, which can end up being what you’re known for.
Successful chambers understand that they are in the “solutions business,” and, as such, don’t shy away from playing a leadership role in solving problems.
W.A.C.E. Past Chair Pat Patrick shared the following from the late Bill Dauer, who decades ago served as the CEO of the San Francisco (CA) Chamber, that still resonates today, “Find the biggest problem that needs to be fixed for your members and the community. Fix the problem; then members and money will come to the chamber.”
Questions to Ask
So when someone asks “How do we become a 3C Chamber,” I usually answer their question by asking them questions:
• What are the biggest problems and needs facing your business members?
• What needs to be done to make your community a better place to live?
Getting the answers to the above questions can be done a number of ways: member surveys, 12 at 12 lunches, quick insta-polls at events, town hall meetings/listening posts around the community, and public opinion polling, just to name a few.
Once you have the answers about what needs to be done…you need to take ACTION. The action step probably includes convening leaders and influencers to get things done and forming a task force or coalition to develop a game plan.
How Do You Communicate?
Almost as important as determining what needs to be done and developing an action plan is what and how you communicate.
What does the chamber look like in print, on your website, in your e-newsletter and in your social media posts?
Do you look like a “chamber of events” or do you look like a KAPS (kick ass problem solver)? What’s the top story in your e-newsletter—a ribbon cutting or an event or an issue?
Sometimes the only way to change results is to change behavior.
Let’s go for it in 2019!
Dave Kilby is the president and CEO of W.A.C.E., and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.