Group of people dressed casually networking in a large room.
From expanding your network to increasing your credibility, joining a local chamber of commerce can offer a variety of benefits to a business. — Getty Images/Morsa Images

A chamber of commerce is an integrated business network that works toward the common interests of small businesses in local areas across the United States. Your local chamber of commerce can offer visibility, credibility, support, and more for your new or growing business.

Here are five reasons why joining a chamber of commerce can be the best thing you do for your business — and how to sign up for your local chamber.

[Read more: What Is a Chamber of Commerce, and Why Should You Join One?]

Benefits of joining a local chamber

It helps you make business contacts

When you decide to join a local chamber, you automatically open up yourself — and your business — to a network of potential partnerships. Business contacts from your local chamber could become the supportive community you turn to one day for assistance or vice versa. In addition, your new business contacts may be the people who serve as your sounding board for new ideas, come up with solutions to internal business problems, and even partner with you on a new endeavor.

It increases your credibility

Belonging to a chamber gives your business a leg up compared to those who are not members. A company with this level of credibility becomes desirable to consumers, increasing the likeliness they’ll seek out your goods or services in the future. Compare belonging to a chamber as you would having a college degree when applying for a job; it tells your future employer — or consumer — you know what you are doing.

While your business's positive perception increases, so will your profits as you establish credibility and brand recognition within your industry. Your membership dues could potentially pay for themselves thanks to the influx in your consumer base.

It expands your network

As your local chamber continues to grow, so will your network. The chamber will hold networking opportunities — usually monthly — allowing you to get to know community members, fellow business owners, and other professionals in your industry. While the events can range from formal to fun, each will allow you to make new connections and foster additional exposure for your business. Your business's relationships and possible expansion through a local chamber network will often be unmatched.

[Read more: 8 Small Business Organizations for Entrepreneurs Looking to Network]

While your business's positive perception increases, so will your profits as you establish credibility and brand recognition within your industry.

It provides key business resources

Your local chamber can make a great marketing resource for your company via avenues like its newsletter, website, social media, and more. In addition to networking events, chambers often hold events, such as "lunch and learn," where members can pick up new skills or techniques. These types of events can offer resources for advancement for all your employees.

Chambers also offer financial resources. Though you will pay membership fees, your chamber can provide financial aid when your business is suffering through times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This financial assistance could help you find the return on these membership fees.

It supports your professional development

Most chambers of commerce host events and training sessions geared toward professional development. By providing these opportunities for your and your business's growth, the chamber creates an avenue for you to improve skills and gain knowledge without breaking your company's budget. Taking advantage of the chamber’s professional development opportunities will help your business make necessary changes, share its expertise with others, and grow.

How to join a local chamber

If you’re ready to find and join your local chamber of commerce, the first step is locating the nearest chamber to your city using the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s national directory. Some states and territories have hundreds of individual chambers, while others just have a few. If you live just outside a large metro area like New York City, Los Angeles, or Chicago, it may be worthwhile to join that chamber to gain access to its extensive resources and networking opportunities.

Once you’ve located your nearest chamber, you can visit its website to fill out an application form and pay any required fees. Form fields and membership fees may vary by chamber. After you've received confirmation that you have been accepted as a member of the chamber, you will be on your way to discounts, benefits, resources, and so much more.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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