Defining Your Relevance Through Advocacy

This blog post is based on a recent webinar I attended, led by Todd Murphy, former President of the 
Jefferson Chamber, Greater New Orleans region, Louisiana.
He started out by making the following statements:

How do you define your relevance?  Networking, educational events, annual festival or something seasonal?  What about advocacy?
He stated the phrase you’re familiar with “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
And he talked about some rules:  stick to policy over politics.  PAC’s are political.  You must support your business members.
He then went on to discuss defining your parameters.  They have a government committee to vet issues and then the board can approve.  What are your issues?  They will be different in every community.
He used the phrase – "think big but stay in your zone."
Be proactive vs reactive.  Build partnerships with your regional chamber, state chamber, U.S. Chamber and relevant associations (Realtors, Home Builders to name a few).  Host a quarterly meeting with your partners on issues of the day.  Bottom line, be part of the conversation to access their expertise.
As a chamber person, lead!  He talked about the idea of “get in the middle” on the issues that affect your members (permit issues, broadband, etc.).  Think infrastructure issues (roads, bridges, water, etc.).
He then pivoted to communication.
Internally:  You must educate and then advocate.  Keep your members informed through all communication vehicles.  Use committees, forums and panels to educate and get buy-in from your members.
Externally:  Communicate with your elected officials about the issues that are affecting your small business members.  These communications can either be public or private.  The key is to have an ongoing conversation with your elected officials.  Build a partnership.  You want to be in a place where they contact you to find out where the chamber stands on a specific issue.  You are never going to always agree with your elected officials.
Your relevance raises your revenue.  Think about that!  Business CEO’s will pay for your advocacy efforts.  Design sponsorships for your advocacy programs and ask a member to sponsor!
For a separate blog post on relevance go HERE.