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Is the Chamber Model Broken?

Here's an excerpt from my column today at YPCommons.org. Head over there to read the rest.

While at the YP Summit in September, a, entrepreneurial young professional told me, "I'd never join my chamber of commerce. It's too expensive. Besides, why would I want to go to some breakfast and listen to a random guy tell me about his mortgage business?"

And someone else said, "I don’t care about my chamber of commerce. They're not talking to the people I want to talk to. I'm sure they'll be obsolete in ten years."

Talk about a need for a rebranding effort.

Chambers of commerce serve a purpose. Many help attract businesses looking to relocate. Chambers are the public relations experts for their city in other markets. But for a lot of young professionals, they seem relegated to the ranks of carnival barker, telling us about the wonders that await inside, without the intent of engagement.

If you want someone to move to your city and stay there for a while, you have to do more than paint a pretty picture. You have to help them find a brush and paint with you. A chamber can host all the breakfasts and networking mixers it wants. It can lure businesses and sports teams time and again. But until it understands that young professionals want more than one good job and some great diversions after work, they won't really be pushing engagement.

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