This post is based on the presentation given to members at our most recent online meeting.
Firstly, I’d like to thank you all for being members of the Business Chamber and for continuing to engage with us. We’ve reached a point where we need to adjust our focus and concentrate on building our business community in 2021. I’ve been Chair for a couple of months now and I want to give you an outline of the things that your Committee has been working on.
To give proper service to its members, the Chamber has to look in two directions.
The first direction is to look outwards and that’s how we represent the views of our members. The Committee and representatives will continue to attend stakeholder meetings and events with organisations including North Tyneside Council, North Tyneside Business Forum, Town Centres Task Group, NEECC and so on.
The other direction of focus looks the opposite way: the Chamber will put greater emphasis on looking inward to support our members. The Committee has reviewed the package of benefits that our paying members receive and have created a much-improved offering. Some of these new benefits will be rolled out gradually whilst others depend on the lifting of Covid restrictions. They’re all aimed at helping our members through this coming phase of recovery and rebuilding.
In our current situation, where we are thinking about the ‘new normal’ of doing business in a post-Covid world, we need to ensure that the Chamber looks inward and outward.
It starts with you
The diagram above shows the relationship between you, the Chamber and the other groups that we interact with. It’s not meant as an exhaustive list of our activities but it does illustrate what is at the heart of everything we do – and that’s you and your business. It also confirms the Chamber’s independence: we answer only to our paying members and we’re not held to account by funders or supporters.
As already mentioned, the Committee has put together a new package of support for our members. We’re keen to find ways that encourage you to engage with the Chamber and with each other so we are proposing the following benefits be made available to all paying members:
- Timely, regular updates about our region; feedback from interaction with other organisations
- Sharing alerts and news about our members, notice about upcoming events and opportunities
- This will tie in closely with the new Chamber website
- New website has been launched and new features will be rolled out during 2021
- Members-only sections that will include a private discussion forum to assist with debates around business topics and a chance to request help/offer support. Members-only training sessions and online resources
- Member directory with the option to present Member-to-Member offers.
- An opportunity to write guest articles for the blog on topics that could prove useful for other members and as a way to promote your business.
- As already announced, the Chamber has a new home for our meetings – the Linskill Centre, North Shields.
- These face-to-face networking sessions are free to attend for members only (Associates will need to upgrade their membership)
- Meetings will follow a new structure with networking, guest speakers and bite-size learning sessions. You will find yourself amongst other business owners and senior managers, with access to expert knowledge and learning from your peers
- Depending on demand, there may be an option for online meetings and for sessions held at different times of the day.
This will be the lighter side of networking and a chance to get to know one another in a relaxed setting. We’re waiting on Covid restrictions to be fully lifted before planning these events and we welcome your ideas about the activities and venues that you’d like to attend.
There are two distinct areas of focus:
- Marketing of the Chamber is about attracting members (growing the chamber) and strengthening our network.
- Marketing of members is about promoting the work of members, getting their stories into the media.
The Chamber will use the bulletin, social media accounts and PR connections to do this.
It is essential that the Chamber understands the economic mood in our business community. We will undertake routine surveys on local issues so that we always have an answer when asked ‘what do your members need?’
I’m sure you’re already aware that the members of the Committee are volunteers. And we know our membership has a wealth of experience across a diverse range of business types. We’d like to offer you the opportunity to put your expertise to good use and to become involved in some projects and working groups. More details to follow.
The Business Chamber will only be effective at building a business community if our members are engaged in the debate with us. It’s so important that we have your feedback so that we collectively drive the Chamber forward in the right direction.
We will appoint a member of the Committee as your relationship manager. They will be your main point of contact with the Chamber, someone who you can email or call when you’re ready to give your feedback.
New tiers of membership
In addition to our paid membership level, we are introducing two new types of membership: Associate and Supporter.
Associate Memberships are the entry-level tier and businesses can join this level for free. Seen as a ‘membership-lite’ option, Associates will receive our email bulletin but won’t have access to any of the other member benefits. We hope that our Associates will see the value that our paying Members receive and they will be encouraged to join as full Members.
Our Supporter tier is aimed at organisations that don’t fit the criteria to become Members but would still like to offer their support to the Chamber. Supporters can include businesses based outside of our region but who carry out their work in our area. Any business wishing to become a Supporter can contact the Committee to discuss their proposed involvement.a
Well, you’ve read through the new package of benefits that we came up with.
Did we miss anything? We’re you expecting to see something else on the list?
If you think we’ve omitted an important benefit that would help strengthen our business community then please get in touch – we really do want to hear from you.