Arlington Chamber of Commerce Leader Erica Pristas

Who she is: Erica Pristas, membership director, Arlington Chamber of Commerce

What she does: As a membership director of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce in Northern Virginia, one of Erica Pristas’ favorite phone calls comes from a business owner saying, “I’m about to open a business and want to get involved with my local community. How can I market my business through the Chamber?”

Why she does it: “That call feels like Christmas morning to me,” she says. “And that’s not because it is my job to grow the membership of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce here in Northern Virginia. It’s because I know the business owner on the other end of the line realizes that they will be successful by networking with other local companies.”

THE POWER OF MAKING CONNECTIONS

By Hope Katz Gibbs

It may sound like a sales pitch, but Erica Pristas knows from experience that the key to business success is aligning your business with an entrenched entity like a Chamber of Commerce. “It is truly one of the best ways to build your brand,” she says.

Here’s why.

1. Chambers of Commerce are nationally recognized and trusted globally for supporting the local business community.

A recent national study done by The Shapiro Group found that when consumers know that a small business is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, they are 44% more likely to think favorably of it, and 63% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.

By joining a local Chamber of Commerce and networking with other members, your business sends the message to potential clients that you are a credible business, a leader in your industry, and that you are invested in the local community.

2. Due to the Chamber of Commerce’s trusted name, many business owners and the general public refer to its online membership directory to find credible service providers.

No kidding. I get calls every week from businesses, in and out of the area, that are looking to connect with local firms. And businesses that have expanded regionally, nationally, or even globally also have the potential to refer their business partners to their expanded network.

In addition, due to the amount of traffic on the Chamber’s website, and the directory listing with links to business members’ websites, your website will rank higher in an organic Google search.

3. Chambers of Commerce give business owners the ability to connect with a large network of potential clients, partners, and advisors through a variety of forums.

These include a number of networking events, educational seminars, roundtable discussions and committees. Don’t be shy. Volunteer to be a panelist, but first start by showing up at events and talking with key players.

This will not only help you introduce yourself to the people who are also networking well, it will give you access to potential customers, as well as new friends.

4. Chambers of Commerce are a catalyst for change.

By bringing both public and business leaders together, Chambers can do collectively what could not be done individually. In fact, Chambers support member organizations by performing a function many companies cannot afford to: the business of lobbying.

Since businesses don’t vote, the temptation is to load the business community with unpopular and stifling taxes and fees. Someone—some group—must look out for the business community’s interests. Your Chamber considers this task to be one of its most vital roles.

To find both state and local Chambers of Commerce, Convention Centers, Visitor Bureaus and Tourist Boards in the United States that provide U.S. business, relocation, visitor and tourist attraction information, visit the United States Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Bureau Directory at www.2chambers.com.

If you would like more information about the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, or if you are ready to join, please contact Erica Pristas, EPristas@ArlingtonChamber.org or 703-525-2400, x202. And do log on to our website, www.arlingtonchamber.org for more details.


About Erica Pristas

A graduate of George Mason University, Erica Pristas received a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing from the School of Management before embarking on a career as an accountant specialist district manager at ADP, Inc. Since 2008, she has been the director of membership for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, where she uses her marketing knowledge and creativity to help new and existing members get the most out of their membership. For more information, contact Erica at epristas@arlingtonchamber.org.. For details about the Arlington Chamber of Commerce visit www.arlingtonchamber.org.


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