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Why You Should Join a Chamber of Commerce

By Global Mobility Immigration Lawyers (GLOMO)

“How’s business?” the old greeting goes.  But these days, one might do better to ask: “Where’s business?”

Thanks to advances in technology, we now operate in a global marketplace where Australia is but one small, albeit magnificent, stall. All commerce has become, whether directly or indirectly, international commerce.

It can be a little overwhelming.

Fortunately, where there is commerce there are, more often than not, chambers of commerce, making it easier to negotiate the immense opportunities, and not a few risks, in this big marketplace of ours.

What is a Chamber of Commerce?

In a nutshell, a chamber of commerce is a member organisation that organises and promotes the common interests of a business community.

But what exactly does a chamber of commerce do?

And why should you join one – that is, what’s in it for you?

We decided to interview a number of chambers to get down into the nitty gritty of why you, your business and your staff, can benefit from joining a chamber of commerce.

What do Chambers of Commerce do?

A common misconception is that chambers of commerce are merely organisations that exist solely to promote business.

Yes, business is a cornerstone of any chamber, but the reality is more complex.

Chambers of Commerce work across various sectors: trade, industry, advocacy, as well as national and international mobility.

While actively promoting members, chambers also endorse their local and broader communities. By facilitating relationships, chambers of commerce ensure that businesses are able to collaborate in creating opportunities for themselves, their partners, and their clients.

There is no single model followed by chambers of commerce, and their mandates might be State, National or International. They may also be private, compulsory, or community based. More on this below.

Geographical Chambers

State, National, and International Chambers are defined largely by their physical location and reach. For example, a State based chamber, like the NSW Business Chamber, advocates for business owners specifically within NSW.

Likewise, International Chambers will usually promote relationships and business opportunities between their specific country and Australia. International Chambers may choose to focus on the mobility of business, including the facilitation of resources across international borders. For example, a chamber may assist with the deployment of staff and resources, advising on import restrictions and visa requirements.

Private vs Compulsory Chambers

This article largely focuses on the more common, private model. In private chambers, there is no obligation to join. Companies pay a membership fee in exchange for opportunities such as networking and industry connections.

Conversely, a compulsory chamber is one where membership is obligatory. For example, in Germany, the IHK-Gesetz, or the Chamber Act, governs when ‘enterprises are members’ and are required to be statutory bodies. Two examples of this include the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHK, Industrie und Handelskammer) and the Chambers of Skilled Crafts (HwK, Handwerkskammer).

So, What’s in it for You?

The benefits of joining chambers of commerce can be immeasurable. However, no two chambers of commerce are identical, with benefits varying depending on the chamber and the business involved.

Barry Corr, CEO of the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce explains that even within a single chamber, benefits will depend on the individual member and what they’re trying to achieve.

Notwithstanding the above, in our discussions with different chambers of commerce a few benefits came up again and again:

  • Networking
  • Advocacy
  • Exposure
  • Information
  • Mobility

Networking

This is a given. One of the major benefits of joining a Chamber of Commerce is the opportunity to cultivate business though networking, as well as to create lasting relationships with like-minded people.

For example, the Australian Malaysia Business Council Queensland’s (AMBCQ) “primary focus is … on providing opportunities for [members] to engage with others at all different levels and across sectors.” Shona Leppanen-Gibson, president of AMBCQ, recognised the importance of networking, and placed great emphasis on “finding positive connections that lead to business and career opportunities”.

By attending events, and engaging with people in the wider business community, chamber of commerce members are able to make strategic connections. And even where they don’t walk away from a contract, it can be a great way to learn from industry leaders.

For example, the Australian and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ANZCCJ), promotes networking opportunities for “meeting government leaders and specialists”, in particular their Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP), “aims to provide young professionals and students in Tokyo insight into various industries in Japan and to learn more about how to pursue a successful career”. Judith Hanna, ANZCCJ Executive Director, explained that “YEP networking events offer a fantastic opportunity to hear from inspiring young professionals who have excelled in their careers, speak with recruiters and business leaders in Tokyo looking to acquire young talent and to mix and mingle with likeminded young people”.

Amie O’Mahony, Government Relations Manager of the American Chamber in Australia (AmCham), emphasised the importance of events, stating that networking is one of the five major pillars of her organisation. AmCham achieves this through their event program, where members are invited to functions for key stakeholders. Within this program, members have access to “preferred seating” so that they can connect with specific individuals.

However, don’t be fooled into thinking this is as easy as exchanging business cards and calling it a day. Shona Leppanen-Gibson highlighted that it is important to remember that networking is not always a “quick win”, and that “it is about the level of involvement and commitment an individual or an organisation would like to have with the business council”. Members that “put in the time and effort and… are consistent… will reap the rewards”.

This sentiment was echoed throughout many of our interviews. Martin Scarpino, CEO of SwissCham Australia, put it quite succinctly by comparing it to a gym membership:

“It’s up to you. It’s like when you go to Fitness First. You sign up and you never go. Or you sign up and you become an active member.”

Advocacy

Having access to, and being represented through, advocacy is another benefit of joining a chamber of commerce. Many chambers and business councils have their foot in the door when it comes to discussing policy. By joining an organisation that reflects your interests, your needs will be asserted when it comes to any form of lobbying.

Unsurprisingly, advocacy varies within each organisation, as specific goals are promoted to mirror philosophy and interests.

For example, the Small Business Association of Australia (SBAA) advocates for small business by promoting policy change. One of SBAA’s major projects is its work on the Small Business Charter of Australia, where it aims to promote signature reforms and “create good policy for small business owners”. Anne Nalder, CEO and Founder of SBAA, emphasised the importance of strong advocacy. Anne suggested that we should be looking at “different initiatives” rather than continuing with “…Band-Aid solutions. When formulating policy, we have to ask, ‘how will this affect small business?’”

Similarly, Nigel McBride, former Business SA CEO, spoke about their advocacy for South Australian business. Tax reforms, ice in the workplace, and climate change, are just some of the topics championed by the Chamber through media campaigns.

Jacinta Reddan, CEO of AustCham Hong Kong, explained that her chamber has been ‘lobbying to recognise the value of [corporate experience] and to look to how we can create a better pathway for members to go back into corporate Australia’. She encourages members to ‘have a say, be involved, and have an influence in key business decisions that will affect you’.

Exposure

Being active in a chamber of commerce or business council can also raise the profile of an individual business.

For example, members of AmCham are able to leverage the activities of the Chamber to increase their visibility. Aime O’Mahony explained that simply by becoming an active member, companies are able to “have their brand associated with some of the biggest names or issues”. Businesses can do this through sponsorship or representation on specific committees.

Similarly, Yachien Huang, Executive Director of the Australia New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (ANZCham Taipei) noted that ‘there are plenty of options for members to increase their visibility in the local market through exposures on our website, social media, e-newsletters and event sponsorship’.

Information & Advice

Chambers of commerce are treasure troves of valuable information and advice for companies and individuals. Usually published online, news updates and publications are given to members as well as the general public.

Some organisations go a step further, creating valuable content that is exclusive to members.

For example, Australian Business Council Dubai (ABCD) is preeminent in educating and disseminating information to its members. Not only does the Business Council’s key players read and share local Australian press, but the Council has created a members’ forum and community hub. Justine Cullen, Manager of ABCD, explained that this hub provides a variety of information. Topics such as obtaining a license and ‘life in Dubai’ make the Council the go-to resource on doing business in Dubai.

Similarly, AmCham provides cutting edge information and resources to members though events, trade missions, meetings with key decision makers, online publications, investment reports, and a trade and investment guide.

Sophia Demetriades Toftdahl, President of the Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce (NACC) favours using events to help businesses “stay abreast of what is happening in the community’.

Mobility

Some chambers of commerce will assist or advise in relation to deployment of staff offshore: tax, visa and immigration and so on. Others, for example most International Business Councils, focus on broader aspects of commerce, rather than the nuts and bolts of personnel and their movements.

Nigel McBride, former Business SA CEO, explained for example that his chamber is able to assist with export stamping.

The Australia Zimbabwe Business Council (AZBC) uses an internal legal department. Evans Mukonza, President AZBC, explains that this is particularly useful for assisting with staff mobility. Evans explains that the agency ‘provides employment to young people’ by helping them find a job and ‘get their resume up to scratch’. Evans notes that his organisation is able to match employees with employers, highlighting that they can also handle the visa requirements.

Which Chamber Will You Join?

Chambers of commerce are a great source of support for your growing business. Whether you want to build connections, increase exposure, or promote your core values, chambers can offer unique and worthwhile opportunities for you and your business.

So, what are you waiting for? Go on and join!

Read the full article here.

 

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European Australia Collaboration in the Pacific Forum

On Wednesday, 6 March 2019, members of the Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce attended a Forum with Commissioner Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, and Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Federal Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific.

Following the third Development Dialogue between Australia and the EU held in Brussels last February, the Forum offered an opportunity for the European Union and Australia to confirm their alignment and commitment to the Pacific region, and in particular, priorities for investing in sustainable infrastructure.

Commissioner Mimica spoke about the EU’s development policy, as the world’s largest aid donor, and highlighted efforts to increase funding for the EU’s Electrification Financing Initiative, whose objective is to de-risk private investments aimed at improving access to energy, principally for populations living in rural areas. He also announced the EU’s External Investment Plan aiming to leverage €1 trillion of investments in EU partner countries, including the Pacific.

Assistant Minister Ruston underlined the importance of the Australian Government’s Pacific Step-Up encompassing $2 billion for the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, along with a $1 billion increase in callable capital to the Export Finance and Insurance Corporation. She welcomed the EU’s increased support and continued focus on the Pacific region, and expressed Australia’s desire to work more closely with its European partners and the EU as a whole.

Both Commissioner Mimica and Assistant Minister Ruston stressed how Australia and the EU share a strong commitment to the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, and commented on the need for renewed cooperation between Australia and the EU. Historic ties of friendship and substantial support to the region should lead the EU and Australia to further align development efforts and work together in better allocating resources.

The panel discussion that followed the keynote speeches addressed the economic outlook of the region opening up opportunities for business. Moderator Dr Sarah Cook (UNSW Institute for Global Development) and panellists Zarak Khan (Fiji Consul General and Trade Commissioner), Adam Bruun (European Investment Bank) and Jean Ballandras (CEO Asia-Pacific, Akuo Energy), discussed the significance of enhanced EU-Australia collaboration in and with Pacific island countries.

The panellists’ comments and interactive session with participants profiled the fast-changing business environment and landscape in the Pacific, underlining the role of the private sector in the region and how technological innovation is driving the emergence of tailor-made, less costly and more adaptable solutions to existing challenges. Panellists also emphasised the role of value-driven stakeholders, committed to making a difference on issues such as climate change mitigation.

See the photo gallery from the event below.

European Australia Collaboration in the Pacific Forum
EABC CEO Jason Collins opens the forum
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Norway Asia Business Review 2018-3


Norway Asia Business Review 2018-3 cover

Norway Asia Business Review down under

Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce is excited to connect with Norway Asia Business Review. NABR offers advertising opportunities for companies throughout South and Southeast Asia.

Norway Asia Business Review 2018 #3 Special Review is on energy. Read also the NACC story in interview with Norwegian Australian Chamber president Sophia Demetriades, pg 20; about the Norwegian technology company Wavetrain down under in interview with Mark Foster, pg 22; and more.

Norway-Asia-Business-Review-2018-03 (read online and download pdf)

Read NABR 2018 03 online at issuu

Norway Asia Business Review interview with Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce president Sophia Demetriades (image link)

 

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Norwegian Christmas 2018

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Ambassador Mary Ellen Miller round-table meetings

HE Mary Ellen Miller with NACC in Perth

Australia's Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland, meets with Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce members in Perth on December 3rd, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for hosting several meetings with Mary Ellen Miller, the Australian Ambassador to Denmark, Norway and Iceland.

An event in Perth was a mid-term posting consultation to for the purposes of meeting representatives of Norwegian and Australian companies, hear about their business experiences in Norway and Australia and to learn about their future plans.

A meeting in Sydney with the Chamber directors discussed ways to increase collaboration between the Embassy and the chambers.

The Norwegian and Australian companies’ areas of discussion were very broad. We recognised that there is a strong link between Western Australia and Norway due to mutual interest in the Oil and Gas industry with companies such as Equinor and Woodside communicating over many different areas.

Another area of mutual interest was working together to identify areas of technology developed in Australia that would be a benefit to Norway. For example, with the current interest in renewable energy, Australia’s experience in Solar Thermal Energy was identified as a potentially useful technology in Norway.

The Ambassador advised that there are now more Norwegian students in Australia than in the United States. She encouraged the Chamber to see this as an area that should be fostered to build “Soft Diplomacy”. She pointed out that this assists to generate links between cultures, which is highly effective for nations like Australia and Norway.

Ambassador Miller also requested that the Chamber keep her informed of the success stories for companies conducting business in or businesses moving to Australia or Norway so she can promote their success and further that we keep her informed of any challenges that companies encounter in the process of operating between the two countries.

We wish the Ambassador well for the remainder of her posting and look forward to continued dialogue with her for the remainder of her term.

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National security dinner with Hon Peter Dutton MP

Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce President Sophia Demetriades had the pleasure of attending an exclusive dinner with the Hon Peter Dutton MP in Sydney on November 19th., 2018.

Ms Demetriades attended as guest of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in conjunction with Stratium Global.

Presentations were held by The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Home Affairs and Federal Member for Dickson and special guest from the United States, Louis J. Freeh, former Director of the FBI, former Deputy US Attorney, former US District Court Judge and international investigator.

The Minister addressed protecting Australia in these uncertain times given his portfolio responsibilities as Minister for Home Affairs. Mr Freeh shared his expertise and thoughts on other important global security matters.

Joining the Minister and Mr Freeh after their presentations were Karen Webb APM, Assistant Commissioner, NSW Police Force and facilitating the panel discussion was Nick Kaldas APM MAICD, Managing Director of Stratium Global and former Deputy Commissioner, NSW Police Force.

 

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Building the Foundation Skills with Hon Tanya Plibersek MP

The Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce President Sophia Demetriades had the pleasure of attending an exclusive networking lunch with the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP in Sydney on November 15th, 2018.

Ms Demetriades attended as guest of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for a presentation on Building the Foundation Skills as presented by Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Education and Training and Shadow Minister for Women.

With a keen eye on the skills needed for the future, there are none more important than foundation literacy and numeracy skills, including digital literacy, as a basis for lifelong learning and work. Evidence shows a drop in standards against our international competitors, particularly amongst high school students, and employers continue to express concern about the literacy and numeracy standards of young job seekers. Are we doing enough?

After her address, Ms Plibersek participated in a Q&A panel discussion with Suresh Manickam, CEO of the National Electrical and Communications Association, David Quilty, Executive Director of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Robert Randall, CEO of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. The panel was facilitated by Jenny Lambert, Director Employment, Education & Training, of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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Visa update at NACC

Thank you to event sponsor Tieto Norway and Justin Gibbs of Fragomen for a very informative overview of the Australian Visa situation following recent changes including the abolition of the 457 visa and introduction of the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa.

The system has become much more complex and the changes introduced to ensure that access to skilled work visas is restricted to occupations in genuine short supply and follows the Government’s agenda to put Australians first.

There are two main streams for the TSS visa, a short-term stream which allows for two years in Australia with one extension and a long-term stream that allow for a four-year term in Australia with multiple extensions.

The criteria for a TSS visa now require mandatory Labour Market Testing (LMT) demonstrating that there is no suitably qualified Australian available for the role. This advertising is governed by strict and technical rules on where the advertisement must be displayed, and for how long. Employers were strongly encouraged to seek advice early to ensure applications met criteria. Acceptable platforms for advertising now include job ads posted on LinkedIn but generally classifieds or social media are not acceptable.

Similar to the 457 visa, salary and terms and conditions of employment must be no less favourable than what an equivalent Australian would receive.

Other significant changes include the split of the occupation lists – now the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) and the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), the introduction of the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy, revised English language requirements, introduction of mandatory policy clearances and minimum period of work experience.

The Department is very keen for companies to become Accredited Sponsors to help fast track low risk applications allowing the visa process to be one to two weeks as opposed to three to four months. For all approved sponsors, there are a number of important obligations and responsibilities and it is very important that companies ensure strict compliance. The Department is increasing its compliance and audit activities and there are also new powers on their way including ATO data matching and ‘Naming and Shaming’ of companies that do not comply.

There are in fact still many different visa categories, 99 to be precise, so navigating the correct category is important to ensure compliance and help facilitate business needs. For example, there was discussion about the different between ‘business visitor activity’ and ‘work’. The recommendation was to seek advice before proceeding as the consequences of getting it wrong can lead to serious consequences and be very costly.

Miles Ponsonby

NACC Event Perth 7 Nov 2018

NACC Event Perth 7 Nov 2018

 

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MARKET RESEARCH Internship with ORKLA – 2018

Orkla market research internship, Sydney August 2018

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WE ARE HIRING!

Chamber_logo_BlueWhiteText_1

The Norwegian Australian Chamber of Commerce is currently looking for an Operations Manager/Relationship Manager/CEO.

 

 

POSITION SUMMARY:

This role supports the board of the NACC in delivering on its objectives, including:

  • Creating networking opportunities for members and their communities
  • Promoting, encouraging and facilitating trade, commerce and investment
  • Creating awareness of ties between Australia and Norway

 

The main focus is on (1) marketing and communications, administration and event management; and (2) member engagement, management, retention and acquisition.

 

SKILLS:

  • Customer relationship building
  • Accounting and finance understanding (to pay invoices and report monthly account status)
  • Customer service
  • Confidence & professional presentation
  • Proactive & assertive nature
  • Attention to detail
  • Must be tech savvy and able to use Mac or Microsoft Suits as well as learn Mailchimp, Stripe, WordPress, Eventbrite, and social media
  • Norwegian language preferred but not required

 

COMPETENCIES AND EXPERIENCE:

  • Degree in Marketing, Communications or Business Administration preferred
  • At least 2 years previous work experience (in any field)
  • At least 1 year administration experience
  • Board management experience or similar preferred
  • Excellent English written and oral
  • Customer Service Experience

 

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES:

Design and distribute the monthly newsletter from MailChimp

  • Get info from the board
  • Set up events on the website
  • Check Contact email
  • Test that links and everything work before sending

 

Current Member Management

  • Set up 2 phone meeting for Board Members in PipeDrive each month
  • Call at least 5 members per month and update info in our CRM PipeDrive
  • Talk to members about whether they know other prospect members
  • Send membership renewal and invoice
  • Do whatever is required to retain members

 

Prospect Member Management

  • Contact prospect members by phone and email regularly
  • Meet with potential members regularly and tell them about NACC
  • Sign up new members

 

New Member Management

  • Add member profiles to website
  • Send welcome email to new members when they pay and the contact email receives a notification
  • Send welcome letter and pin
  • Make welcome phone call with details below (tell President)
  • Add member to MailChimp newsletter list
  • Invite member to social media accounts
  • Update contact details
  • Get member to post our logo on their website

 

Finance Management

  • Update accounts
  • Pay invoices
  • Send invoices
  • Collect invoices
  • Update the numbers in the minutes sheet
  • Monthly financial statements

 

Event Management

  • Organise NACC events
  • Find sponsors for events
  • Attend events, prepare for events (see events run sheet)
  • Add events to website
  • Add events to Eventbrite if applicable
  • Create and send event invitations from MailChimp
  • Post events to social media
  • Call and email members directly to check if they are attending events
  • Part take in organising & promoting: European cruise in Nov, informal Christmas drinks in Dec, Scandinavian Film Festival in Jun, and promote

Euromix x 2-4.

Marketing Management

  • Keep update on member social media accounts and share in social media
  • Manage social media in collaboration with interns & President (weekly posts)
  • Share news in social media

 

General Administration

  • Attend Board meetings and take minutes, 1st Monday of the month, 4:30-6pm
  • Distribute minutes, agenda, and action items to the board, monthly
  • Weekly 15 minute phone catch up with the President
  • Update Database and CRM
  • Keep the Google Drive tidy, clear, orderly

 

REMUNERATION

  • Depends on experience and responsibilities
  • Salary will be between $20-30 per hour with 20 hours work per week minimum + board meeting attendance (Approx. $1600-$2400 /month)
  • Commission on membership sales available if of interest

 

HOW TO APPLY:

  • Send an email with your resume to contact@norwegianchamber.com.au, and add your name in the subject field like this: JOB APPLICATION: MAX SKAUGEN.
  • Only successful candidates will be called in for an interview.

 

 

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