By Kelly Fanelli


2 Tips For Chamber Recruitment and Retention

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Kelly Fanelli



 This is the second post in the guest blog series by Kelly Fanelli, the Membership Director at the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida. If you missed it, check out her first post.



Taming The Two-Headed Beast

How do you recruit and retain members for your chamber of commerce?  I’ll share a couple of ideas that have worked for me to tame this two-headed beast!  Some may be new to you and some may be reminders of things you already know, but have not been practicing. 

1) When you’re talking to a prospect or a member about a renewal, never start with events.

Why not? Isn’t that one of the things we do best?

Yes, but consider these points:

  • Some of your members will never make it to an event.  Some of them know that in the moment of the conversation and will never join, because their schedules will keep them from attending.  If you start with events, you are dead in the water.
  • Others will have every intention of coming to events, but reality will keep them from coming.  Then, when the renewal invoice comes to them, they will not renew, because they did not get that perceived value.    

Start, instead, with visibility tools – websites, directories, newsletters, apps. Things that work for them, even if they never come to an event!  Give them a clear view of how those tools work for them, and the networking events will be the icing on the cake….and they can eat it, too!

When you're talking to a prospect or a member about a renewal...start with visibility tools.

fa-star Kelly Fanelli 101

When I’m trying to paint a picture of how effective the visibility tools are, I use the phrase, “The Chamber’s visibility tools are working for you even while you are sleeping!”  The language really helps them get it. And I usually get a little laugh too – great for building rapport.  (More on that in a future blog.)


2) Engage the member's staff!

Nine out of ten times, a new member filling out an application will forget that their membership is not limited to the individual they are listing as the contact. 

Remind them that their staff members can also participate in Chamber programs, join committees and attend events. That way, if the original contact isn’t able to get involved, someone else will be participating.  Not only will the company see an immediate return on the investment when the membership starts, but that additional involvement may make all the difference when they receive their renewal invoice.

How to remind members that their staff can also participate:

  • Include a reminder when you send your Chamber welcome notice.
  • If your Ambassador Committee is calling on new members (highly recommended!), include this in the script you write for that conversation.
  • Include a committee list and descriptions of programming available in renewal invoices and reinforce the reminder when it’s time for their renewal. 

fa-star Kelly Fanelli 101

When I’m encouraging a new member to involve their staff, I remind them that employees stay in positions where they feel valued.  I use the phrase, “I know ______ is invaluable to your company, and this is a great opportunity for her/him to demonstrate how well they’ll represent your company.  Plus, it will free up some time for you and they’ll have fun reporting back to you on their successes!”



So, two simple ideas, but with big rewards. Recruiting new members is critical to a Chamber, but retaining them is the way to grow it.

Thanks for reading!


Your Turn

Do you have a recruitment or retention tip you'd like to share? Post it in the comments section below!


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