Some people think chamber membership is outdated, like it’s something their grandparents used to do. Maybe you and your friends even feel that way. You might think that you can do all the networking you need to do online. You may even have hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers and figure chamber membership is the last thing you need for your career or for your business.

But chamber membership is one of the strongest Investments you can make in your future and it’s also one of the least expensive with the best reputation and return on investment.

No, it’s not your grandpa’s chamber but membership can be essential to your personal and business growth for about what you pay for a cup of coffee every day.

Here’s a glimpse of the amazing payoffs you can expect from chamber membership:

Enjoy Amazing Experiences and Make Things Happen

By getting involved with the chamber you’ll meet people nearby in every stage of their careers. You can find a mentor and be one if you’d like. You can attend young professionals events and possibly have a hand in the economic development of your community.

Have you traveled recently to another city and witnessed something really cool in their community? Did you wish your town had the same thing? It won’t happen with wishes alone. You need to align yourself with a group that has the power to make things happen. The chamber is well-connected and can help bring your ideas to fruition.

Develop Partnerships

Today’s businesses use all sorts of influencer marketing and other non-traditional partnerships that help market products and help them grow. Being a member of the chamber can help you meet business professionals who can take your business to the next level.

Don’t have your own business?

The chamber is also an excellent way to network for career advancement and hear about positions that are open before they hit the internet giving you a jump on the application process.

Chamber members are also helpful in assisting you to start your own business. They can give you advice on things to avoid as well as government policies and best practices you should be following. When starting a business you need a lot more expertise than what’s found in a YouTube video. With chamber membership, you can connect with people who have “been there and done that”, sometimes multiple times successfully and some not so successfully.

Find Your Tribe

As you become more established in your career, you may notice that some of your earlier friends from school begin to drift away. You may also notice that making new friends is more difficult now that you’re out of school. The chamber is another way that you can meet like-minded professionals outside of work. There are often several specialized groups within the chamber that you can join. Groups like those with a women’s or a young professional’s focus can help you find the kind of people you want to spend time with.

Establish a Reputation

If you’re just starting your business–or you operate a business online–you may quickly realize the hesitancy some people have in ordering from someone they know nothing about. If you sell on the internet, there can be even more of a hesitation because no one wants to hand over their credit card information to an entity they’re not sure will be around to deliver. Joining the chamber can lend legitimacy to your business while you create a reputation for yourself.

Get Free Learning

Sure, you can learn a lot from YouTube. But there are some professional skills and topics that you just want to hear an expert in the industry talk about. The problem with that is that it costs a lot of money to attend these experts sessions. If you’re just starting out, you likely don’t have that kind of money in your budget or if you do it’s often allocated to something you’ll see a more immediate return on like marketing or advertising.

One of the chamber’s  best kept secrets is that they offer sessions on topics that are important to professionals. Most of them are free to members. Some may have a small cost for lunch or breakfast. And unlike a YouTube video, these sessions allow you to interact with the speakers. Sometimes that interaction can be the beginning of a business friendship.

If you are a young professional who is eager to succeed in your company or business, consider a chamber membership. It’s one of the best ways to grow your network and one of the least expensive. The return on investment and the experiences you’ll receive as a chamber member far outweigh the minimum cost of membership.

It’s possible to grow your business without it, but think of chamber membership as a FastPass to business success. Membership can help you get to the front of the line a whole lot faster than standing around with the rest of your peers watching videos.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so.

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.