What Do Chambers of Commerce Offer?
Most UK towns and cities have a Chamber of Commerce. It can be easy to overlook the potential benefits that being a part of the Chamber can offer you, particularly as they have a reputation for being filled with old men with out of date views.
While there may still be a few that live up to that, don’t forget that you are entitled to utilise the Chamber of Commerce. They are local authority-run offices that are there to support and promote business locally, nationally and internationally.
Many small businesses have found that their local Chamber of Commerce has been very helpful in offering advice and bringing them to the attention of possible partners, agents and clients.
What Can the Chamber Do for Me?One main way in which the Chamber of Commerce in your town or city can help people who want to go and work abroad is to introduce you to contacts or companies overseas where there may be employment opportunities. It is most common for a particular Chamber of Commerce to have a strong relationship with a certain other organisation, much like twin town organisations work, and there can also be strong bonds with certain industries.
The best way to see if your local Chamber of Commerce has the potential to help you find work abroad is just to call in. You may feel a little strange, especially as it’s likely to be a building that you’ve never been in before, but you will be able to see how your particular Chamber is run. Many Chambers have different employees with responsibility for areas such as small businesses, businesses looking to increase export sales and individuals wanting to find work abroad. You may be given an appointment for a representative to talk to you about what current initiatives or schemes the Chamber is involved with – sometimes they come to visit you at your home or place of work, if appropriate, and are usually available outside of office hours.
What Does the Chamber Do in General?The general aim of the ‘trade body’ known as the Chamber of Commerce in the UK is to represent the business interests of companies in the UK abroad, so it make sense that the people who work there have contact with and access to more people than you as an individual is likely too. Although some people have criticised the organisation as a ‘talking shop’ that doesn’t get all that much actual stuff done, many individuals and small businesses have said that they have received help and great advice (there are often trade excursions which has perhaps 50% funded, or access to certain grants and funding) particularly if they have ‘clicked’ with their appointed advisor.
This highlights the importance of finding a Chamber representative that you get on and feels understands what you are looking for; a good way to see if there is someone else who works that might suit you better is to go on an ‘open day’ (most Chambers have these at least once a month) and talk to a few representatives.