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Irish Chamber

Opportunity knocks.....but do you answer?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Your Chamber has never been more active with new members joining every day and many more opportunities being presented to members to derive value from their active participation. Why then, would anyone let these opportunities pass them by? Our CEO, Barry Corr, ponders the question.

This is a very exciting and rewarding time to be involved in delivering services to the members of the Chamber. There is so much going on and the diversity of offering is beyond anything we have seen in recent memory.

In the next month alone, we will offer five events to members who are keen to build their networks and their business knowledge. These events will take place in Melbourne, in Sydney and over the web and each one will offer the opportunity to learn something, to meet new people, including two events, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney, which will see us collaborate with, among others, the Swiss, Finnish, Swedish and Maltese Chambers. These are the events that members who are kind enough to provide us with feedback are requesting and we will continue to do our utmost to deliver those types of events for them. We will also welcome a very significant Trade Mission from Ireland with events in two cities and featuring top class speakers & presenters.

Now this time of year also presents some more difficult conversations. August is when I am obliged to contact lapsed members to let them know they can no longer access programs and events. It's not a pleasant task but a necessary one and in the vast majority of cases, the member has simply let their renewals slip down the to do list and is grateful for that final reminder that keeps them in the game. Against the backdrop of activity described above though, I will admit to being somewhat disheartened by the dialogue of some of those calls.

In the past week, I've noticed two recurring themes:

There's nothing going on.....
It's too expensive

Now I accept that the first point requires us to look carefully at our own channels of communication. We work on a technology-led, primarily self-service model in order to keep costs to members to a minimum and rely heavily on our social media channels to augment direct email communication and raise awareness of activities. It is a model that has allowed us to revitalise the Chamber but one which relies on members taking a certain degree of responsibility for keeping themselves abreast of what's going on. It could well be that we have a growing segment of members who prefer a more "concierge" service and we will give this due consideration. It's an entirely understandable request but it will have to be priced accordingly in order to fund the additional staff required to deliver that type of service - and that's where we overlap with the second point.

I'm not ignoring the reality that some businesspeople out there are cutting back on discretionary spend but I am genuinely surprised when I hear someone tell me that $100 is a bridge too far in terms of making an investment in themselves and their business.

In recent weeks we have been reviewing this year's mentoring program and remarked on the amazing contribution that our mentors make to our young members. On case in particular caught my attention where one of our mentees has an hour with their mentor every Friday morning. When you consider that the average equivalent hourly charge rate of our mentors exceeds $500 if you were engaging them on a normal business basis, that's nearly $20,000 of value for that member from a $100 annual subscription. Not a bad return in anyone's book but one that requires active involvement and generosity of spirit in that relationship to happen.

In a more common scenario, an individual member who joined up for this year could already have - at no additional cost - secured a digital subscription to the Irish Times (normally $288), listed in our business directory, attended a boardroom lunch with a global CEO and spoken at a Networking Breakfast. If they were a Corporate Member or Business Member, in the next few weeks, they could attend two Trade Missionevents, including one featuring keynotes by Federal Minister for Communications Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP and visiting Irish Minister Richard Bruton. For those who prefer to stay indoors, they can access a business training webinar on the increasingly important theme of using LinkedIn effectively. Conservatively, that's over $1,000 of value in one month alone! If that doesn't make sense to a prospective member then I'd imagine that joining a business organisation just isn't for them.

In summing up, I'm proud to call myself a member of such a vibrant Chamber and to hear the stories of success that our members can so regularly tell. However, those members seeing most value are those members who take the opportunities presented and who take personal responsibility for making the most of their membership. The two things aren't unrelated.

Trade Mission