Chart Your Course to SAIL as a 3C Chamber

Dave Kilby

When we gathered in Salt Lake City last month for our Executive Leaders Roundtable, I’ll be honest, I had no idea what to expect as we attempted to outline a “3C Roadmap” for chambers.

Four hours later when the meeting came to a close, we had delivered, according to the evaluations, a top-notch, idea-sharing workshop that included a discussion of “Chamber Choices,” a “Whole New World” talk show and an energetic “silver bullet” prioritization exercise.

Communicating Value

One of the more interesting exchanges of the day revolved around the question of “How can chambers do a better job communicating value?”

Here’s a few of the “silver bullet” answers generated during the Roundtable:

• A chamber must tie all communications to the “why” for its members and differences made in the community through its actions (not events): WHY this is an important issue the chamber is working on; WHY it’s important to attend a meeting; and WHY the chamber is supporting or opposing an issue.

• Incorporate the 3C language into ALL communications with members AND the community. Be intentional and systematic about documenting the work the chamber does in the community and then tell that story in print, e-news, social media, podcasts and video.

• Make sure you utilize your members to help tell your story, spotlighting accomplishments and experiences.

• Reorganize your newsletter, e-blast or magazine to ALWAYS have catalyst, convener and champion sections talking about what you are doing and getting done in each area. Whenever possible, including at chamber events, be sure to communicate what the chamber is doing as a problem solver and in the advocacy area.

Other discussions focused on how the chambers could excel as problem solvers and gathering data, and new ways to grow the chamber and monetize the 3Cs.


An important comment from the Roundtable that had heads nodding around the room in agreement could be summarized: If you don’t excel at communicating value and go “all in” as a problem solver, you’ll NEVER succeed at growing your chamber.

A final takeaway for me was that for chambers of commerce to truly be relevant, they need to SAIL—Support, Advocate, Identify (problems) and Lead!

Best wishes as you and your leaders chart a course to SAIL to success.

Dave Kilby is the president and CEO of W.A.C.E., and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.