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Playing Well in the Sandbox

Often when I speak to community groups like Rotary clubs and others, I will joke that one of the nice things about working for a chamber of commerce is that we have no competition. To some extent, that is true because our geographic boundaries, though determined by each chamber, are separate and distinct. Of course, some overlap does occur at times, for instance, Stoughton has its own Chamber and is also claimed by the NVCC, Metro South and South Shore Chambers. Fortunately there has been no “Battle of Stoughton” to determine which empire has the rightful claim. Instead, each of our Chambers gets along well and recognizes that it is up to each business in Stoughton to determine which Chamber best suits its needs and join accordingly. Often times in Stoughton and elsewhere that means joining more than one Chamber.

One of the benefits of Chambers not being in direct competition with one another is that we can collaborate and share best practices freely, without fear of giving away our brilliant ideas. For example, we recently had to cancel our Healthy Employee Initiative due to a lack of interest. The South Shore Chamber is hosting a Health & Wellness this week. You can bet that we will be there in order to see what we can learn from their program that might help us with ours. Similarly, a staffer from the Metro South Chamber attended our Flavors of the Neponset Valley last week to discover what the secret ingredients were to its success, as they also run a “tasting” event each year. Just last week a colleague at a Chamber on the North Shore called to ask about our Video Spotlight program.

Our staff here at the NVCC all participate in programs available through our state and national associations that allow them to network with other Chamber professionals and discuss ideas that work and those that need to be tweaked or even put out to pasture. And we are not limited to what is going on just next door. We are currently looking into a program for “Small Business Saturday” (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) based on an initiative in Laredo, Texas. Yee Haw! You never know where you will find the next big idea.

In addition to our ability to share ideas with each other, we also strive to work collaboratively with our neighboring Chambers whenever possible. Perhaps the best example of this is our Mega Business Expo in the fall, a joint effort among the NVCC, Tri-town and Milford Area Chambers. It makes much more sense to have over 100 exhibitors and 1,000 visitors than something a fraction of that size if we were to each go it alone. It also allows members the opportunity to network into regions that they might not otherwise access. Last year, we hosted a sales training program along with the Stoughton and Metro South Chambers. We hope to host a forum for gubernatorial candidates in the fall in partnership with the Tri-town and United Chambers. Our ability to attract the candidates to such a forum is greatly enhanced if we offer them access to more than 1,500 businesses in a large region as opposed to 500 businesses in a smaller region.

Finally, our ability to get along with our neighboring Chambers also helps us when we are advocating on behalf of the business community. Depending on the issues, Chambers statewide or in certain regions often come together to lend their collective voices to issues that matter to employers. In these cases, size matters, so our ability to multiply our voice by joining with others is of great benefit to you as a business person.
So for us, playing well with others in our sandbox isn’t just the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.