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Heidi Gallegos, Regional Chamber of Commerce – San Gabriel Valley.

Heidi Gallegos, the CEO of the Regional Chamber of Commerce in San Gabriel Valley, has helped numerous small businesses build connections and grow their businesses. Any time a business joins the Chamber of Commerce, she sits down with them to understand their needs and what they would like to get out of a chamber membership, so that she can help them derive that value.

One example she cites is a small tech company that joined the Chamber. She sat down with them, figured out what they needed, and helped them learn how to build strategic partnerships — a must in a recessionary economy.

This small tech company is now in growth mode, and she believes this is a microcosm of what can happen when you connect with other entrepreneurs.

Gallegos joined the Chamber as CEO with a varied background. She had a career in law enforcement, and sits on her children’s school board. She believes her mother’s community involvement influenced her desire to help build a strong community.

This Too Shall Pass

California’s economy is in rough shape at the moment (2011). This affects everyone in California, and small business owners are no exception to this fact. Gallegos says that this anxiety is detectable in business owners who join the Chamber, so she makes sure that they understand how the Chamber can help them.

From access to capital (which is scarce) to business education and mentorships, to (most valuable of all) strategic partnerships with other entrepreneurs, she communicates the benefits of Chamber membership to each new member.

Although the economy is rough at the moment, she says she deeply enjoys seeing the creative innovation that comes out of a poor economy.

Deriving Maximum Value from Chamber Membership

While Gallegos is very adamant that entrepreneurs join their local Chamber of Commerce or small business association, she is quick to draw a comparison to a gym membership. If you don’t go to a gym, then it doesn’t matter if you’re a member.

The same is true of a chamber membership, she says.

Even if an entrepreneur goes to just one event per month, he or she will create business-to-business or business-to-consumer contacts that will help increase the bottom line.

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