Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi is credited with starting each football summer camp by holding up a pigskin and declaring, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”

Success in any endeavor in life relies on understanding the fundamentals. Whether football or networking, understanding the rules and knowing the basics cold are essential to success.

It is amazing the jump in attendance most chambers of commerce will see at programs during the month of January. As we start a new year, what better time than now to reevaluate goals and objectives for attending chamber meetings. Here are a few tips to consider as you plan your year.

Winning Business

1. Determine your ultimate goal for chamber membership. What do you hope to gain through your chamber membership? As with every other type of marketing, determine in advance what success looks like. Who do you want to meet? How many new clients do you need to receive a satisfactory return on investment of marketing dollars and time spent?

2. Know what you expect to achieve by attending an event. Most people who attend chamber programs have no real goal they expect to achieve by attending. Know your outcome before you attend so you may determine your level of success. Determining what you want from each event gives you the fundamentals you’ll need to be successful over the full year of membership.

3. Determine your rate of success for several events. You need to fill your pipeline with qualified leads and referrals to be sure, but you also need to fill your networking pipeline with quality networking partners who can introduce you to new quality leads and referrals. Determine how many qualified leads, referrals, and networking partners you gain from each event you attend.

4. Calculate how many leads and referrals equal a closed sale. You may wish to segment this into: People met, Networking Partners, Leads, Referrals, Presentations, Closed Business. Determine how many people you actually need to meet to get to the number of closed deals you need.

5. Determine the best events to attend to achieve your desired outcome. After sampling all available events and measuring the results of each, choose the one or two different events held each month that are best for you.

6. Attend regularly. Measure results. Achieve success.

If you are like most people, this sounds like a lot of work. It is. But these are the basics for success in attending and being a part of a chamber of commerce if you measure success in business closed. There are many more reasons to join your local chamber to be sure, however those who will flood the chamber in January are likely those looking for new clients.

Armed with a plan for success, you will stand out from the crowd, attract more business, have more meaningful relationships, and have a more fulfilling experience.