As the President/CEO of the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce, I often get asked, “What do I get for being a member of the Chamber?” Now, as a Chamber leader my opinion might be biased, but I can honestly tell you this organization offers so much to help you succeed both personally and professionally. Actually, it offers so much that it is difficult to me to quantify.
I was first introduced to the LAX Coastal Chamber in 1995. I had just turned 20—wait, did I just age myself?—and was working part-time as a receptionist for a local private investigative firm. At the time, the firm was a member of both the Westchester/LAX and the Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce, but they were struggling to make the most out of their Chamber investments. Since what you get from a Chamber membership depends on what you put into it, I was tasked with getting more involved.
My first mixer was aboard a Hornblower Cruises & Events yacht and I only knew one person on the double-decker boat. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was extremely intimidated. I felt lost trying to butt into other people’s conversations as an attempt to introduce myself and the company I represented. I remember feeling insecure as a simple receptionist shaking hands with infuential business leaders, general managers of name-brand hotels, and owners of local restaurants, but everyone I met was very kind and genuinly seemed to enjoy each other’s company. It was a friendly-yet-productive atmosphere that not only helped me feel engaged, but also resonated a strong sense of community.
Fast forward several years. I was working for a local PR firm—and proud Chamber member—and was assigned as the Account Manager for the Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce. My job was to tell the story of the Chamber and to promote what a great job they were doing supporting and advocating for the community. As I became more involved with the inner workings of the Chamber I was once again struck with their community-driven and supporting atmosphere. From educational opportunities to business workshops, from keynote addresses from industry leaders to the LAX Coastal Fourth of July Parade, the Chamber continued to impress and prove itself time and time again to be the strongest voice for business within our region. Honestly, it made my job of advocating for them that much easier!
Finally, in 2004, I was recruited to work for the now-named LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce, and was incredibly impressed by the talent displayed within the organization. It is now the year 2017, and I am still impressed. Our Board of Directors is chock-full of key community and business leaders who worked tirelessly to be the stewards of our community. Our staff, while rotating over the years, is always comprised of hardworking professionals who are full of enthusiasm to better our business climate. And our members, from small mom and pop storefronts to giant corporations, are truly the reason we succeed.
There is a saying that goes, “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.” I am proud to say the company I keep as a leader of the LAX Coastal Chamber is exemplary. My professional contacts, many of whom I consider close friends, are true heroes of the LAX Coastal community. I am honored to work each day with such an amazing group of businesses and individuals working toward the common goal of making our region a better place to live, work, and play.
To those of you still asking what you can get from being a Chamber member, I tell you this: the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce is a network of relationships built between the 537 dedicated, talented, and innovative community leaders that are currently members of our organization. So, if you needed a reason to get involved, I can give you 537; and we all can’t wait to meet you.