- ACCE Education Attainment Blog
- Asheville Business Blog - Asheville (NC) Area Chamber
- ChamberPost - The U.S. Chamber Blog
- Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy Blog
- Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) Blog
- Dallas Regional Chamber's Blog
- Florida Chamber of Commerce Blog
- Greater Boston (MA) Chamber Blog
- Greater Cleveland Partnership Blog
- Greater Kansas City C/C
- Greater Spokane Incorporated Blog
- HubSpot's Inbound Internet Marketing Blog
- IssuesPA, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Economy League
- Kentucky Chamber Blog
- Knoxville Chamber's Facebook Page
- Maryland Chamber Blog
- Nashville (TN) Chamber Blog
- Salt Lake (UT) Chamber Blog
- Selling in the 21st Century (Membership Sales Blog)
- Stateline.org - State Politics and Policy
- Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber "Live Wire"
- The Avenue - Rethinking Metropolitan America
- The Voice of Business - Greater Lehigh Valley (PA) Chamber Blog
- The Voice of the Lancaster Chamber
- Welcome Home - Adirondack (NY) Chamber Blog
Chamberís Computer Gets Hacked
A recent article in USA TODAY described the nightmare scenario that happened in January at the Bennington, Vt., Area Chamber of Commerce when one of its computers was overtaken by CryptoLocker, computer “ransomware” that freezes access to files via a private key known only to the hacker. When the ransomware infects a computer, any file that is directly accessible from that computer can be at risk. According to the article, "The warning — next to a ticking countdown clock — threatened to destroy all data on the computer if the chamber refused to pay a $400 ransom within 40 hours."
If your computer is infected with this malware, there's really nothing you can do, unless you decide to pay the ransom. Even then, there have been instances where the computer remained locked even after the ransom was paid. The most effective protection is to be alert. Also:
- Analyze e-mails that are "to good to be true" or unexpected.
- Stay away from web sites and/or e-mails that are offering free stuff. Free is never really FREE.
- Be careful of shipment notification emails- especially if you are not expecting anything or if you haven't shipped anything.
- Avoid sites known to be trouble, such as pornographic and gambling sites.
- When in doubt, don't click on ANY links. Just delete the message.
Read more about the Bennington Chamber’s incident here.
A policy is a plan
A policy is a plan. Any size of chamber with staffing small to large, needs personnel policies. Chambers often have practices of reviewing personnel policies and handbooks on an annual or every other year basis. Many chambers have a personnel planning committee to help with the task of reviewing policies and other personnel related matters. ACCE's Chamberpedia page on Personnel Policies lists examples of Employee Manuals & Handbooks, Workplace Violence and Safety Policies, Financial Policies, IT-related Policies, Social Media Policies, Remote/Teleworking Policies & Info, and more.
The HERO team often receives questions about social media policies and how to handle the personal use of social media while on the job. Here are several examples of chambers that address social media.
- Social Media Policy - Berkshire Chamber of Commerce
- Social Media Policy - Chester County Chamber of Busines & Industry
- Social Media Policy - Greater Killeen Chamber
- Social Media Policy - Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber
- Employee Handbook - See the Social Media Policy & Guidelines section within the Employee Handbook from St. Tammany West Chamber
Handbooks provide the guidelines your staff needs to ensure your office runs smoothly and with high standards. Here are several examples of handbooks from chambers.
- Employees' Manual - Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
- Policy Manual - Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce
- Employee Personnel Handbook - Greater Springfield Chamber
- Employee Handbook - Longview Area Chamber of Commerce
- Personnel Manual - Santa Rosa Chamber
- Employee Handbook - St. Tammany West Chamber
Does your chamber have a personnel policy, employee handbook, or other type of policy to share? We want to hear from you. Email us at HERO@acce.org.
Membership Orientation Resources
Does your welcome packet and membership orientation need to be refreshed? Looking for new ideas or just want to know what other chambers are doing for orientation? Visit our new Chamberpedia page on Membership Orientation for great ideas direct from chambers. New Member Orientations can provide members with leadership, advocacy, networking, involvement and professional development, meeting the chamber staff and other new members, showcasing resources, and learning the benefits of chamber membership. Here you will read ideas from 8 chambers who recently posted their orientation processes on ACCE's LinkedIn group. See several sample welcome letters, learn what to include in a welcome packet, find examples of chamber booklets, view return on investment checlists, and check other ways chambers can thank members for joining. Does your chamber have a solid orientation program or new member packet that you'd like to share? Or have questions for the HERO team? We want to hear from you. Email us: HERO@acce.org
Communications and Marketing Metrics QuickPoll Results
A QuickPoll on Communications and Marketing Metrics was conducted in March 2014 and results published in April. 160 members participated in the poll.The QuickPoll starts with an overview of respondent's chamber's total revenue range, total membership size, and overall function. Metrics-specific questions include:
- Does your chamber track the following metrics?
- What is your average email open rate?
- What is your average email click-through rate?
- What is your average conversion rate?
- What is your average monthly number of unique visitors to your website?
- Which Social Media channels are used at your chamber?
- If tracked, Number of Twitter Tweets per month.
- If tracked, Number of Facebook Likes per month.
- Do you have a closed or open LinkedIn group?
- How many emails or eblasts does your Communications Department send per month
- (includes announcements, e-newsletters, etc.)?
- And other questions.
In the results, learn that 90% of participants track email open rates and 88% track website visitors; 81% track social media interactions, and 78% track email click-throughs.
The poll shows that 26% of participants have a 26-30% average email open rate; 27% of paricipants have a 6-10% average click-through rate; and 38% of participants have between 1,000-4,999 average monthly unique visitors to the chamber website.
Learn that 100% of respondents are using Facebook and 79% are using Twitter, with 76% using LinkedIn. Find these results and many more on the Communications and Marketing Metrics QuickPoll!
On the poll results, you can also find a list of resources (sites/magazines/experts) that chambers are following for communications and marketing trends or the latest in data mining.
For questions or assistance, please contact the HERO team. Email: HERO@acce.org.
Let's go golfing!
It's that time of year - time to go get in a great game of golf, enjoy the summer weather, and, in the case of many chambers, accomplish more than just a game of golf and turn the game into a networking opportunity, a fundraiser, and a way to bring the community together. Find examples on our revised and expanded Golf Tournaments Chamberpedia page.
Many chambers of commerce run golf tournaments as a way to generate revenue and offer a fun networking event for both members and non-members. Below are links to resources related to planning golf tournaments and sample documents that chambers have used for registration and publicity. Want to know more about events at chambers? See stats on chamber events from the QuickPoll conducted June 2012 with 264 participants. 75% of responding chambers said they host an annual golf outing!
- Golf Digest Planner is a quick and easy way to set up a golf event website - including online registration, payment processing, tools to market your event, sell sponsorships and attract players
- Golfregistrations.com free resources to help make your outing a success; including, a planner/checklist, and Microsoft Excel based budget, and a set of 5 standard letter templates, which can be easily modified for your tournament needs.
- TournEase shares tips, ideas, advice and helpful information to make your tournament a success
A selection of chambers with Golf Tournaments:
- Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Chamber Open Golf Tournament - Amarillo's Largest One-Day Golf Tournament, annual and sponsored typically sells out.
- Aurora Chamber of Commerce Leadership Golf Tournament - Annual event with sponsors.
- Corning Area Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament - Annual sponsored event, with golf awards for top players.
- Cushing Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament - The chamber has several great events in multiple days in a row with the Pipeline Appreciation Golf Tournament kicking off the festivities and is then followed by the Chamber's popular BBQ ‘N Blues Festival.
- Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Classic - Annual event with sponsors is a great networking opportunity for businesses.
- Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce Chamber Cup Golf Tournament - Annual sponsored event with contests and awards for top players.
- Grapevine Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic Tournament - Annual sponsored event provides members an opportunity to network with fellow members or their current or potential clients in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
- Find MORE on our Golf Tournaments Chamberpedia page.
Samples of documents chambers use to promote Golf Events:
- Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce - Scholarship Scramble Golf Tournament Sponsorships - This sample promotes available sponsorship opportunities for the chamber's annual golf tournament, which funds scholarships for high school and community college students.
- Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Bonita Springs Golf Tour Brochure - Highlights the annual golf tournament event, sponsorship opportunities, participation opportunities, Hold Sponsors, lunch sponsor, and advertising options.
- Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce Spooktacular Charity Golf Tournament Player Registration Form - This October Halloween-themed Golf event sample includes both a player registration form and a description of the available sponsorship opportunities.
- Chamber of Schenectady County Harry Apkarian Memorial Golf Classic - This brochure promotes the golf event, highlights how the funds raised from the event are used, and includes list of sponsors.
- Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce Fall Chamber Golf Classic - Sponsorship Levels - This sample outlines the golf event sponsorship levels. The chamber has combined the golf event, held twice a year, with their total resource campaign. When the chamber made the switch to combine the golf event with the TRC, they sold out the event in the first year. As a result, they have 2 golf events, one in fall and in spring and are very successful fundraisers for the chamber.
- Greater Spokane Inc. Annual Golf Tournament Sponsorship - Example serves as a sponsorship agreement, highlights the benefits of sponsoring the hospitality tent at the chamber's successful annual golf tournament.
- Longview Chamber of Commerce Par Busters Golf Tournament
- Find MORE on our Golf Tournaments Chamberpedia page.
Read a selection of articles on chamber golf events:
- Tips for Your Next Chamber Golf Event - blog post by Christina Green, from Frank J Kenny Consulting (March 2014)
- Revenue Models: Choose Your Dues - by Katherine House, Chamber Executive magazine (Fall 2013)
- Find MORE on our Golf Tournaments Chamberpedia page.
Chamber Events and Programs
ACCE's Chamberpedia section on Events and Programs is being expanded. Here you will find numerous resources to address event planning and programming at your chamber.
Chamber event planners will find ACCE's chapter on Community Events to be helpful in gaining new awareness for successful programming options. This chapter comes from the ACCE Chamber Revenue Model Whitepaper (published December 2013).
Just getting started with event planning? Visit our new page on General Resources for Events and Programs to find online guides and resources, articles, books, whitepapers and research, and event planning samples.
Another good place to start is with the free event planning e-Book 14 Leys to Hosting Events Your Members Will Love (PDF), a guide for Association professionals from WebLink International (provider of Association Database Management Software and Chamber of Commerce Software for Member-Based Organizations).
Want to know how other chambers are handling events and to see what's most successful? See our Chamber Events QuickPoll - Provides stats on number and type of events, seasonal data, marketing events, attendance, and revenue from events from 264 poll participants, compiled June 2012.
Have a few minutes to read a great article? Check out EVENTS, by Katherine House, Chamber Executive magazine (Spring 2014). From community-wide local festivals to a caucus room on Capitol Hill, chambers are creative promoters and producers of profitable events.
To get specific, here are individual pages for specific types of events.
- Annual Meetings
- Breakfast Series
- Business Advancement Events
- DC Fly-Ins
- Festivals, Parades, and Pageants
- Golf Tournaments
- Government Relations Events
- Health Care Programs & Summits
- Leadership Development Programs
- Lemonade Day
- Membership Orientation
- Networking Events
- Training and Seminars
- Technology Related Events
Event planners can bookmark these pages for resources to help get the job done. Or get the show on the road.
- Awards and Contests
- Evaluating Programs
- Event Calendars & Programming
- Networking Icebreakers
- Non-Member Event Attendance
- Program Agendas and Scripts
- Resources for Chamber Event Planners
- Technology for Events (using tech for events)
Chamberpedia pages like these are constantly updated. Have a program resource, sample, or event you'd like to share? Have a question or need help? Let us know. Email: HERO@acce.org.
KCCE: Leading the Charge for Professional Development
We are four months away from ACCE’s annual convention, and the ACCE team is in full convention planning mode for the event that has distinguished itself as the professional development and networking event of the year. Attendees from chambers across the country come to learn from leaders in their respective fields and to share ideas and best practices with their peers.
To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to attend, ACCE has partnered with the State Executive Association Network (SEAN), a group of leaders of state chamber associations, to provide scholarships to the convention. One of the biggest cheerleaders for our SEAN scholarships and the convention is the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives (KCCE) association. Just two years ago, they awarded 12 scholarships to Kentucky chamber professionals to attend the 2012 convention in Louisville!
With professional development at the core of KCCE’s mission, Ali Crain, executive director of KCCE, recognizes the value of participating in the SEANs scholarships from a financial standpoint. “We’ve taken advantage of the SEAN’s scholarship opportunity each year,” she says, “because it allows us to ‘buy one get one.’ We provide a scholarship for one of our members who would not have a chance to go otherwise and then I, as executive director, also get to go. You can’t beat that!”
KCCE already has pledged its support of the 2014 convention – a momentous event as ACCE celebrates is centennial year of serving the chamber profession. It’s a decision, says Crain, that just “makes sense. This year, our board felt it was important to allocate monies for seven additional scholarships. It’s important for us and our members to meet other executives from across the U.S., share ideas and build our network while getting top industry training.”
If you are a State Executive Association interested in partnering with ACCE to award a scholarship to the ACCE Annual Convention, complete the online application for the SEAN scholarship no later than May 16.
Lessons on Entrepreneurship from MIT
The highlight of last month’s Metro Council CEO roundtable in Boston for me was our trip over the Charles River to MIT. Thanks to Paul Guzzi and the Greater Boston Chamber, our group met with Lita Nelsen, Director of MIT’s Technology Licensing Office to discuss tech transfer and the university’s role in supporting a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. When I say robust, I mean robust. One recent study found 25,800 active companies founded by MIT grads employing 3.3 million people with annual worldwide sales of $2 trillion. At least a million of those jobs are in Massachusetts.
From Lita’s enlightening presentation I took away 3 key points:
- Real estate doesn’t matter that much. Dozens of successful companies were founded in grubby basements around Cambridge. And despite high commercial rent, starts ups still flourish (and mostly stay) in greater Boston. This is not to say that helping provide affordable, conducive space won’t help startup ventures… but a shiny new incubator building does not guarantee any success.
- You don't need a Czar. MIT has successfully maintained a flourishing start up environment without anyone “in charge.” The Tech Licensing Office helps with patents and investment, Sloan Management School has an entrepreneurship track, alumni group runs mentoring, the School of Engineering has shared lab space, the Deshpande Center for Tech Innovation provides grants… but there is no “czar” of entrepreneurship. There is lots of coordination, but faculty and staff have fought all attempts to centralize.
- Successful startup executives matter. Accomplished business builders, marketers and operators - are as important to a robust ecosystem as inventors, research and patents. This is the often overlooked element of MIT’s success and an area where all chambers can add value.
For more on MIT’s support for startups, check out Kauffman Foundation’s report – Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT.
Preserving the Unique
History of Chambers
Laura Linard, director of special collections for the Baker Library of the Harvard Business School, and Tim Mahoney, manuscripts librarian, examine ACCE documents and publications dating to 1914, the year the association was founded. They visited ACCE’s offices April 7 to inspect and catalog the contents of 24 boxes of convention proceedings, meeting minutes, newsletters and photos from ACCE’s past. “This is wonderful material that provides a unique view of American business,” Linard said. “We’d be pleased to add all 24 boxes to our archives.” Harvard Business School maintains its extensive library for the benefit of the scholarly community. Many of its collections involve records of innovative companies and the papers of business leaders who have played a pivotal role in the contemporary global business world. All formats of information, from paper records to audio and video digital files and websites are collected and maintained in a climate-controlled facility for archival-quality storage of manuscripts, rare books and electronic records. Fragile or damaged materials get special handling from a staff dedicated to conserving documents regardless of format.
Bringing Value to Leadership Development Programs
“Leadership development” is an area of interest to many of our community clients. As Baby Boomers begin to retire in droves, businesses and communities are finding that workforce sustainability – their ability to replace impending retirees with qualified young workers – is of increasing concern. The same concerns are circulating in board rooms, city halls, and community institutions across the country. Take a look around the room at the next chamber of commerce event or board of directors meeting. Lots of gray hairs, huh? Well, this isn’t much of a surprise; chamber membership, board representation, and community leaders in general are by and large older than the average citizen. They should be; generally speaking, businesses, voters, and institutions want people with experience – experience that comes with age, naturally – to fill those leadership positions. But it’s all those Boomers that make 2014 just a little bit different (okay, A LOT different) from years and decades past. In 1990, the U.S. population aged 25-44 (32.4 percent of total population) was nearly 75 percent larger than the population aged 45-64 (18.6 percent of total population). As the Baby Boomers have aged into that older cohort, these two age groups have become nearly identical in size. As of 2012, those aged 25-44 represent 26.5 percent of total U.S. population, just slightly larger the 26.4 percent represented by those aged 45-64. What was once a very sizeable pipeline of potential “emerging” leaders (aged 25-44) is no more.
There are countless examples of leadership development programs at chambers of commerce across the country. The overwhelming majority are nearly identical in terms of their approach: identify a class of roughly 20-30 predominantly young professionals, guide them through a series of lectures and discussion forums on issues of importance to the community, and potentially take a trip to the state capitol and/or a peer city. These programs have proven valuable for many communities and their participants, but often fall short in one critical area: connecting the program’s graduates to actual leadership opportunities.
A few places are really getting it right – Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma among them. Northwest Arkansas – home to the global headquarters of Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt – has a strong, relatively traditional leadership program called Leadership Benton County. It is also home to the Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders (NWAEL), a program coordinated by the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. NWAEL provides young leaders with a variety of opportunities to actually get engaged in the community through a set of “work groups” that pursue a variety of volunteer-led community improvement initiatives. In addition to the work groups, NWAEL offers a Board Service Certification Program, a day-long training program that seeks to prepare emerging leaders for services on non-profit boards and commissions. Graduates of the program are connected through events and communications to staff and board leadership at area non-profits to help place them in actual leadership opportunities.
Tulsa’s Young Professionals (TYPros) is another terrific example of intentional leadership development. What started a relatively traditional young professionals networking group has rapidly blossomed into a serious force in Tulsa’s economic development and community improvement landscape. Similar to NWAEL, TYPros has a set of “work crews” that implement volunteer-led projects impacting a variety of aspects of the community from Arts & Entertainment to Diversity to Environmental Sustainability. In partnership with Leadership Tulsa, TYPros implements a Board Internship Program, placing more than 80 members as “interns” (think “shadowing”) on non-profit boards throughout the region. The organization does so much more to help develop the next generation of community and business leaders in Tulsa by providing young people with opportunities to actually get involved and make difference by enabling them to make decisions, raise monies, and implement programs. Imagine that: they enable them to lead.
This past Saturday, I ate a lot of really good food and had a few glasses of not terrible wine – a rare combination at many catered events! I bid on a framed scrub autographed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta but despite my generous bid, I didn’t win – a fact that greatly pleased my wife, Amy, who rightfully wondered where such an item was going to be stored in our home. Had we won the auction, our bid would have contributed to the more than $200,000 that was raised by the Emerging Leaders for Children’s (ELC) to help save lives at the highly-specialized ECMO Center. Remember, this event and its proceeds were the product of an intentional leadership development effort. The non-profit healthcare system benefitted greatly from the work of ELC, and ELC’s members clearly received the benefit outlined in the program’s objectives – to help emerging leaders “enhance skills in fundraising, program development and relationship building.” I left the event wishing that I was a part of its development. Thankfully, there’s a simple form online to express interest in the ELC program.
The reality is that most leadership opportunities – in business and community – are not so easy to access. Programs like NWAEL in Northwest Arkansas and TYPros in Tulsa get it right. They make it easy. They don’t just “teach” you about leadership; they enable you to actually lead. Many “leadership development” programs fail to take this extra step or make this final connection. And it’s this final connection – a linkage to meaningful experience(s) – that adequately prepares an individual for future leadership.