Resolution: Take advantage of trade associations

August 28, 2018By Behind the Shelf Blog, Industry Intuition, Resolutions

by Dave Wendland, vice president, strategic relations, for the Resolutions blog series

Regardless of industry or profession, there is an association for nearly everything. In fact, there are about 100,000 registered trade associations within the United States alone, often going by an acronym for brevity (see why in the examples listed below). And, chances are, there have been times when you have felt overwhelmed and suffered from acronym overload. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if, like me, you have questioned their value, role in your career, and the very reason for their existence.

To answer those questions, I’m going to offer five reasons why engagement with industry associations can bolster growth and/or support your business.

However, before delving into the topic, I think it’s important to highlight a handful of associations in our industry. There may be some you may not be familiar with and by no means is it an exhaustive compilation of all the associations to consider.

So, I believe you would agree there is not a lack of options. But what about their value?

Rather than dissecting each association and its potential benefit to your operation, I encourage you to develop a checklist or assessment tool of sorts that allows you to objectively evaluate the various resources, events, insights, and member collaboration a trade organization could offer your company. If you think there is alignment with a particular organization, then you should benefit in the following ways:

Partnerships: When you surround yourself with like-minded, passionate individuals and companies, unanticipated collaboration and alliances can occur that may propel mutual growth. Additionally, you may discover other members or affiliates who could work with you on a shared initiative.

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Insights: Whether through comprehensive studies or thoughtful industry analysis, associations often publish reports, white papers, and blogs, along with hosting webinars on far-reaching topics and market opportunities and insights. It is these insights that may present a new growth path or business opportunity for your firm.

Referrals: If you’re looking to add people to your team or tap into resources offered by other member companies, an association can be an unmatched resource. Not only does it narrow the pool of options to those already entrenched in your industry, it also offers connectivity to potential well-alignmed partners that could result in speed in developing, delivering, or imagining a future product or service.

Motivation: Have you been to one of the association’s annual trade events? If you’re like me, the exhilaration, energy, and enthusiasm are unparalleled. I find myself with a fresh outlook and a new lift in my step. Although associations and their constituency may find themselves embroiled in a difficult industry issue, hearing how the association and its membership are responding can in itself provide motivation.

Voice: Some of the associations, not all, provide advocacy and a unified voice on Capitol Hill and throughout state legislature. For some, it is this influence at the local, state, and national levels, with thousands of voices to back up your opinion, that is reason enough to get and stay involved in an association.

Whatever your reason is, joining the right associations and becoming actively involved to reap the rewards offered and participate in their programs is a wise investment.