As marketeers, we don’t just look at online opportunities for businesses to market themselves. Offline marketing such as networking is essential for most businesses. So earlier this year we decided to join the Northamptonshire Chamber of Commerce.
Our journey with the Chamber of Commerce began over the summer of 2016. We were kindly invited along to one of the “maximise your membership” events by Sunny Singh. We’ve not looked back. Here’s a short summary of our experience so far.
In June 2016, we were invited by Sunny Singh to attend a Chamber of Commerce event to find out a little bit more about what the Chamber of Commerce does and why we might benefit from being members. We’d heard that the Chamber does many great things, but were unsure how being members would help us to grow our business.
The first event we attended was a free event for members and non-members alike. Held at the Nene Whitewater Centre, we had the opportunity to network with other businesses, some of whom were members and others, like us, who weren’t. Immediately it became clear that there were a variety of businesses of all sizes. Where other business networks might typically focus on small business owners – nothing wrong with that – the Chamber is a network of businesses of all sizes in Northamptonshire. We were invited in to a room for a presentation by Sunny. An informative, useful presentation about what the Chamber does and why it might be beneficial to be members. Within 24 hours, we’d agreed to join as the benefits seemed like terrific value for the membership fee.
At that first event, I also happened to meet Emma Speirs. Emma had recently set up Ballyhoo PR, a business that passionately believes that every company has a story to tell. We got chatting and it became clear within a few minutes of talking that there might be some synergies between Onefoursix (and our other company, Northampton Life) and Ballyhoo. Emma helped to pull a great PR piece together and shared the news story. A relationship had sprung and within a few weeks we’d teamed up to work together on projects where our skillsets complement one another.
We’ve had opportunities to quote for work that we just wouldn’t have had if we weren’t members of the Chamber. Sunny has been incredibly helpful in connecting us with businesses that might find our services useful. The flexibility and choice of the networking events works perfectly enough. The events are always well filled, with good quality businesses attending and I always come away with a useful piece of advice/guidance, a new relationship and the furthering of existing relationships.
We’ve become such advocates of the Chamber that we’re almost an extended part of their sales team! We recently helped Chad Ffowcs-Williams with a marketing plan for his business, Chilli Accounting. A part of that plan was that he should join the Chamber of Commerce. Chad took our advice and has joined. I’m sure over time he’ll reap the benefits too.
Our good news stories are also being publicised, which is great exposure for us, the businesses we are partnering with and the Chamber. Catherine Bontoft, the Chamber’s new PR executive, has been very helpful in pulling together a little PR piece that will feature in the Chamber’s inBusiness magazine in 2017.
I’ve also been fortunate enough, through my membership of a business golf network that I’m part of, to have met Jon Thorpe of ACS. I’ve since discovered that Jon Thorpe is a board director at the Chamber. As I write this, I’m preparing to be team up with Jon at the Chamber’s annual charity golf event. Wish us luck!