The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Member Blog: Return of the Prodigal Member

By Nancy Jaeger - Social Media Makes Sense

Once upon a time, in days so olden my mobile phone was the size of a shoebox and email didn’t exist, I was a member of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce when it was based at Churchgate House.

Unfortunately, after a couple of years I decided to leave for several reasons, amongst which were:  I felt like an ATM machine for the Chamber. Every activity seemed so expensive – networking events, training, etc, all had a (to me) big price tag attached.  It felt to me I was there to make the Chamber money, not that the Chamber was there to help me make money.

The other off-putting element – at least seen through my eyes as a small business (you old-timers will remember I was the Jaeger of Jaeger PR) was that it seemed to me that the old Chamber was all about the big boys and quite cliquey.  Anyway, whether or not my perspective was correct or not, I didn’t feel valued as a 3-man band. So I took my ball and left to play with someone else.

Well, I can’t tell you how pleased I am that all that has changed – new premises, new staff and old, and a new approach to members!  I don’t recognise the old Chamber of yore (though I do recognise old and talented staff – Hi Lisa!!).

To begin with, I discovered the Chamber had moved, so I called up to find out more and the very helpful Tom Fergusson invited us (my business partner Jo Booth and I) in.  He  told us about the very reasonable costs and joining process while we sat in the really cool new members’ area (free coffee, free wi-fi and really nice environment). So we dipped our toe in the water and decided we would try being members for a year and see if things were better at GMCC Mark II.

And aren’t they just! The lunch and breakfast Action for Business networking events are great; they are well organised with plenty of opportunities for businesses both small and large to promote themselves. The five minute 'Talkabouts' are fun and informative as are the 60-second slots where your business card gets pulled out of the hat and random people get up to speak.

I’ve been to the Gala dinner and had a great time and shared my table with businesses I would never have met otherwise, plus listened to some great speeches – though Alexander Armstrong, some of your jokes were rather tasteless considering the audience, FYI.

Finally, I’ve been really impressed by how the Chamber makes an effort to provide added value to its members especially with new technology – The weekly e-newsletter, The Brief, is a great vehicle to get current news out, 53 Degrees magazine provides a more traditional format, and @gmchamber is fantastic for getting your events, business news and other cool stuff re-tweeted, which as a social media training company I thoroughly approve of!

I even put my mouth where my money is and have urged all and sundry to join or re-join – fantastic value for money and a great team to work with, what’s not to like?

Nancy Jaeger
Social Media Makes Sense and so does the Chamber!

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