Just when you think you have Gen Y figured out, there’s another generation on the horizon.

The term Gen Z is used to refer to people born between 1997 and 2012. The oldest part of this cohort may be working for you or starting their own businesses right now. So, they’re already on the chamber’s doorstep (or could be). While the youngest part of that generation is still a ways away from becoming members, working, or volunteering for the chamber, understanding what they want and need over the next few years can be the difference in winning over their generation or having them start businesses and continue on their own.

Here's what you need to know about this Gen Z as they begin to enter the workforce and take root over the next decade.

Who Is Gen Z?

Gen Z is in its formative years right now. They’re in school. They’re working in teams. And they’re also the most entrepreneurial of all generations so far. This is a big deal for chambers and it may be the ideal time to think about how you can help people interested in starting their own businesses.

Turn on Shark Tank and you’re seeing younger and younger people pitching the business pros for venture capital. Gen Z is not afraid to take risks and they aren’t worried that a lack of experience will keep them from having a successful business. Like the two generations before them, they are immune to the concept that they need to “put in their time” before being able to follow their dreams.

2023 research from ZenBusiness, found that 93% of Gen Zers aged 18-25 have “taken a step toward exploring business ownership."

The study, which surveyed 1,000 Gen Zers also showed that 84 percent of them chose entrepreneurship as the most exciting of 12 career paths. 75 percent of those polled want to become entrepreneurs.

That means this is the ideal time for chambers to be thinking about how they can support this entrepreneurial generation. They’re eager but not yet knowledgeable on what it takes to have a successful business. Their business acumen largely comes from parents, cohorts, and YouTubers at this stage in their life. Affordable business assistance could be a strong motivator toward membership. And when you consider the value of them in a member lifetime scenario, it makes sense to invest in restructuring some of your offerings toward an entrepreneurial lean.

Key Considerations When Marketing to Gen Z

Joining a chamber of commerce might not be the first choice for many members of Generation Z due to their strong affinity for digital platforms and new-age entrepreneurship. (i.e., “I’ll just use social media to launch.”)

However, there are several reasons why a Gen Zer might want to join the chamber. You just need to keep their perspective in mind when marketing to them. As mentioned previously, one significant need the chamber can meet is in the realm of entrepreneurship.

Here are some key approaches for marketing to Gen Z:

Networking Opportunities

Generation Z places a high value on networking but may not understand it from the traditional sense. They’re used to meeting peers and immediately adding them to their social profiles as “friends” or “followers.” They amass large counts but may not know what to do with them after that.

The chamber of commerce can provide some context and insights on how to move those numbers into content engagers. It’s also important to help them define “engaged.” From a chamber perspective, when we see someone liking our content, we consider them engaged. Gen Z will like content just because it’s in their feed and the person is a friend or follower of theirs. They don’t have to like or agree with the post. Their like is akin to “I saw this. Been here, done that.” That type of engagement won’t help them sell more widgets, but it will get them visibility. They need help translating that visibility into online sales.

They also need assistance with how to effectively network in-person. Chambers often host events, mixers, and seminars, providing an excellent opportunity for Gen Z members to connect with experienced business professionals, mentors, and potential collaborators. These networking events can help them expand their knowledge and contacts in the business world. But they’re not going to want to go “hang out with a bunch of old people.” They must feel like the networking event is geared toward their needs and interests. Remember, even 35 is old when you’re 21.

The traditional chamber mixer may not interest them. You might try something a little more empowering and energy-driven like pitch fests for funding.


Young entrepreneurs from Gen Z understand the importance of guidance and mentorship from seasoned business leaders. They like getting to know well-positioned people in the community. You can use programs or resources to connect Gen Z with experienced mentors who can provide valuable insights and advice.

Access to Resources

Many chambers of commerce offer resources, such as business development programs, educational workshops, and access to market research data. Gen Z entrepreneurs can benefit from these resources to help them grow and sustain their businesses.

Advocacy and Policy Influence

Gen Z may not realize their businesses needs advocacy and policy help. But that generation is known for its passion for social and environmental issues. As author Zohvib pointed out in an article entitled “Gen Z The First Generation With No Purpose” published on Medium, Gen Z is “in the trenches daily, pushing for social, economic, and environmental change.”

Chambers play a role in advocating for local businesses and influencing policy decisions. Helping Gen Z entrepreneurs understand that joining the chamber help them advocate for the issues they care about and influence change in their communities can be a big enticement for them to join.

Credibility and Trust

Being a member of a chamber of commerce can lend credibility and trust to a Gen Z entrepreneur's business. While they may be able to grow huge followings online, they may find that more serious in-person activities like true community support or funding, requires trust and credibility. Chamber membership signifies a commitment to the local community and a willingness to abide by certain ethical standards. It lends respect to the claim “YouTube sensation,” that they may need when moving an online business into a larger physical entity.

Collaboration Opportunities

Like the two generations before them, Gen Z is accustomed to collaboration and teamwork. Chambers can encourage collaboration among their members, creating opportunities for Gen Z entrepreneurs to partner with others on projects or initiatives. A Leadership program can also be very appealing to this generation.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Gen Z largely identifies (over 50 percent according to respondents in the ZenBusiness survey) as neurodiverse. In their opinion, this makes them better suited for entrepreneurial endeavors than in traditional work environments. This self-identification can also be an interesting area to begin conversations with existing member businesses and when shaping your training or event offerings. Factoring in the needs of a neurodiverse audience is important when trying to capture their hearts, minds, and membership dues.

Access to Funding and Capital

Chambers can help connect young entrepreneurs with potential investors or sources of funding. Gen Z members may appreciate the support and guidance offered in navigating the complex world of financing.

Community Involvement & Diversity

Many Gen Z individuals are socially conscious and want to give back to their communities. Chambers that want to appeal to this cohort can organize community service initiatives and partnerships with local charities, aligning with Gen Z's values of social responsibility.

If your chamber is involved in diversity initiatives, these can be very appealing to Gen Z. They are looking to support a world that is inclusive. Share what you’re doing to advance their desired platform.

Educational Workshops and Training

Gen Z entrepreneurs may appreciate educational opportunities provided by chambers, such as workshops on digital marketing, e-commerce, or other relevant skills. These can help them stay competitive in the rapidly changing business landscape. 80 percent of Gen Z sees “content creator” as one of their most attainable career paths. Remember, that doesn’t mean writer. This generation grew up creating content and sharing content of their friends. They are the “My First Day of ____ Grade” poster babies. Gen Zers are willing participants in The Truman Show and The Circle. But they need to understand how to take that content and leverage it for the betterment of their fledgling businesses or business dreams.

Because they see themselves as content creators, they may be willing to assist the chamber in one of many roles such as social media ambassador, event photographer, or even trainer for content creation novices. The latter can be a popular topic for reverse mentorship opportunities.

Global Perspectives

In the study from ZenBusiness, 90 percent of those surveyed said they wanted “to create something new and better for the world." Chambers are well-positioned to help these young people in providing exposure to global business perspectives and opportunities. As Gen Z tends to have a more global mindset, they may value access to international trade insights and connections offered by chambers.

While joining the chamber may not be the first instinct for a Gen Z member, there are several benefits it can offer, particularly in the context of entrepreneurship. Networking, mentorship, resources, advocacy, credibility, and opportunities for community involvement and social impact are some of the aspects that can appeal to this generation of emerging entrepreneurs. By addressing these needs (and solutions) in their marketing, chamber pros can effectively engage and support Gen Z members in their business ventures.


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