By June Mathews, commentary
TRUSSVILLE — Like most people, I do a lot of thinking about my job outside the office, even though I try not to sometimes. Everybody needs a break from work every now and then, right?
But if you’re like me, and your job involves serving your hometown, not thinking about work can be tricky. Whenever I shop in a local business or eat in a local restaurant or, heck, just ride down a local street, job-related thoughts tend to crop up. Many of those thoughts pertain to how we at the Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce can convince local business owners to join us in our mission of promoting and supporting not only our area businesses but our entire community, as well.
And that’s a big mission, y’all, especially as we continue to deal with a pandemic that’s weakened our nation’s economy, rendered untold damage to our local business community, and put some of our city’s financial resources in peril. But I believe that bonding with like-minded individuals during a crisis is the best way to get through it. So, in that regard, chamber membership may now be more important than it ever has been.
As a born-and-bred Southern Baptist, I’m well-versed in the concept that giving testimony is an essential element for bringing in the sheaves. (If you don’t know what that means, you clearly didn’t grow up singing from a hymnal.)
But it recently occurred to me that I’ve never shared a testimonial of my chamber experience, which over the course of two decades has taught me that being part of a business association is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself and your business, as well as your community.
So here’s my story.
Though I became vaguely aware of the Trussville Chamber when events like Dog Daze and the Maple Leaf Run hit the local scene in the 1980s, the chamber didn’t become part of my personal reality until I started writing for local publications in the late 1990s. Covering chamber luncheons and other events was not only great fun, but I enjoyed the social and educational aspects, too. Thus, I made some valuable contacts and learned a lot about my city and local business-related matters along the way.
After forming a small writing business, I applied for corporate membership in the chamber and increased my volunteer activities. I stuffed invitations into envelopes, reviewed scholarship applications, sold soft drinks at Dog Daze, and helped line up entries in the Christmas parade. And through those seemingly mundane activities, I continued learning and building my network
Chamber involvement led to a seat on the board of directors, which led to serving as president of the board. Then four-and-a-half years ago, a part-time staff position came open at the chamber office. Weary of working alone at home, yet wishing to maintain my writing business part-time, I applied for the job. A part-time gig turned into a fulltime job, and, well, here I am.
The Reader’s Digest version of my story is this: I joined the chamber, became involved in its activities, and was, therefore, about to take advantage of opportunities that became available to me through my chamber membership. All of which, in turn, prepared me for my job at the chamber.
So my investment in the chamber paid off. Someone else might meet the client of a lifetime at a chamber luncheon or receive a referral through the chamber office that results in a million-dollar deal. Big payoffs can also come in the forms of friendships, learning experiences, and reputational boosts. (Industry statistics tell us that consumers are 63 percent more likely to purchase from a chamber member.)
A chamber investment could pay off big for you, too. But you’ll never know if you don’t give membership a try. Special rates are now available. For more information, call (205) 655-7535 or visit www.trussvillechamber.com.
Executive Director, Trussville Area Chamber of Commerce