There's a saying in business that to make money, you need to spend
Experts say one of the smartest expenses a businessperson can take on is joining a chamber of commerce, which can be one of the best forums to build business relationships.
Southern Nevada has dozens of chambers, and while each caters to a different demographic, they all share a common goal: help businesses grow.
"We all do different things, and all of the things we do are the same," said Scott Muelrath, president of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce. "The chamber of commerce landscape has changed in the post-recession era. As an organization, you have to figure out what you're good at and what your niche is."
Most of the local chambers offer networking events -- cocktail mixers, breakfasts or lunch meetings, often with expert speakers. Some provide small business insurance plans while others help members start companies through business incubator programs.
Given the bevy of options, it's all about finding the right fit for a business owner.
"Visit them all and find one that fits your needs," suggested Terry Wong, president of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce. "If you need grassroots-type of business referrals, join one that offers networking opportunities. Networking isn't going to happen because you pay a membership due. You get out of it what you put into it."
And experts recommend business leaders join more than one chamber, provided they have different purposes.
"I'm a member of both (the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Urban Chamber of Commerce)," said Shaundell Newsome, president of Sumnu Marketing and a member of the Urban Chamber of Commerce's board of directors. "I like each of their goals and missions."
Below is a guide to several of the valley's chambers:
Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce
Address: 8363 W. Sunset Road, Suite 250, Las Vegas
President: Kristin McMillan
Dues: $500 annually
The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is the largest in Southern Nevada and is open to companies of all sizes, from large corporations all the way down to small businesses.
The Las Vegas and North Las Vegas chambers merged in 2012 to create the Metro Chamber of Commerce.
"It gave (North Las Vegas businesses) the opportunity to come in, as part of the brand we've built, and take of advantage of that," McMillan said.
By virtue of its size, the Metro Chamber is among the more powerful of the local organizations. It has three spots on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Association's board of directors and representatives at local, state and federal levels.
"We have a more macro focus," McMillan said. "We have more resources to get involved in government advocacy. We can use our leadership and our credibility to really help the community move forward."
The Metro Chamber hosts more than 100 events a year for members, including networking mixers and topical meetings. It also hosts a yearly Business Expo that attracts about 150 exhibitors and more than 2,000 attendees.
"That's why people join the chamber of commerce -- to build relationships," McMillan said.
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