Submitted by Shelli Williams, IOM - ICEA President
Chances are great that the November election results will mean big changes for the local elected leadership in your community. What a great opportunity for chamber staff members to really make a bigger impact for the business community.
Over the months ahead, the chief staff rep at your chamber should make an effort to sit down individually with newly elected leaders. (It doesn't hurt to also sit down with returning leaders as well to listen and remind them of what the chamber is all about.) Take time to meet for coffee or lunch. Even if you know the person, still make the effort to meet during typical business hours to talk specifics about community issues. Find out what the core issues are that persuaded each rep to run for local office. Listen about community concerns and align how the chamber plays a key roll in tackling these problems. Ask if he/she knows what the chamber is all about. What does he/she think about the chamber? Do the new elected officials even know what business leaders want & need?
Yes, meeting individually with elected officials can be time consuming. When you ask what they think about the Chamber, some of the answers may be hard to hear depending on the past history of your organization. But the results can pay big dividends. Local officials will know more about the chamber and you will know more about the elected reps. Establishing a relationship now will help to communicate the concerns of the business community to get results and that can be a win/win for both the local officials and the chamber leadership team.