For most of my professional career, I have been a member of an industry association and, oftentimes, multiple associations. In the olden days, which I like to refer to as the good ol’ days, associations were how we stayed in the loop on trends in our industry segments. In today’s digital age, you have access to hundreds of thousands of news and information outlets. So, are industry associations still needed?
The short answer is yes!
It is easier today than ever before to get news and information through the Internet that is relevant to your business. However, if you want to know if there is a new OSHA regulation coming out and you google New OSHA regulation, you get over 25 million results. You can narrow that down, but it might be harder than you think. Let’s say you type in New OSHA food regulation, you still get around 500,000 hits. It would require a fair amount of reading and searching to make sure you are aware of the latest standard that could impact your business.
My point is that joining an industry association may be the easiest way to stay current on industry-specific topics. Associations often provide relevant information to members via easy-to-read websites, newsletters, and/or conferences.
One of the main reasons industry associations were founded was so business people could interact with each other and exchange information to help each other out. As regulations and businesses became more complex, associations started providing more than just a gathering place for business owners to exchange ideas. Associations provide education on new rules, laws, and issues that affect their industries.
In many cases, the associations themselves have started to develop industry standards and common rules of how business is to be conducted. Many associations certify people for a variety of industry needs and skills. Who better than business owners within the industry segment to teach the knowledge and skills that are needed to be successful within that specific industry?
Associations create an environment where owners can exchange ideas and try to influence laws and politics that impact their businesses. Today, many associations are the lobbing body for their industry segment.
To help you decide if you should join, here is an overview of what associations can add to your business and professional life.
I have belonged to several industry associations over the last few decades and, to be honest, some are more beneficial than others. So, be selective. Check with current members or attend a few association meetings to see what they offer to you or your business.
Looking back, I have almost always walked away with something I feel I would not have seen, received, learned, or gained if I had not belonged to a specific association.
It is up to you to decide if the association dues, time, and effort are worth it, or if the benefits are not enough to offset the time and monetary commitment from you or your business.
I feel strongly that nearly any business or individual can benefit from belonging to the right industry association.
Do you agree that trade or industry associations benefit you and your company?