Have you considered joining a construction association but haven’t gotten around to it yet? Or maybe you are a member of an association that isn’t quite meeting your needs. Regardless, a little research is all you need to identify the right construction association—one that can benefit both you and your business. Here are three tips to guide you down that path.
1. Create an action plan. Figure out what you want from an association, and find the one that offers it. That sounds like a simple step, but it is one that is often overlooked. Don’t be distracted by a lengthy list of services and programs. Make a list of what is important to you and stick to it. Some things you may want to consider are training, education, business development tools, apprenticeship training, legal resources, networking, and discounted products and services. Figure out what you need, and disregard the rest. You wouldn’t pay for a large wheel loader when all you need is a skid-steer.
2. Perform a background check. Determine if the association has a strong and reputable presence. The membership listing is a good place to start. If a national presence is important to you, then definitely consider that, but usually the state and local memberships are a better indication of what an association can offer you. Next, dig deeper and understand how active the organization is. Are the meetings well attended? Are there numerous opportunities for training? Make sure the associations you are considering are strong and active in areas that interest you. To get a good handle on this, I would suggest talking to existing members and consider joining them at a meeting or event. It goes without saying that reputation is important. Will your relationship with this organization help to solidify your reputation as a leader in your field?
3. Check to make sure it meets your needs. Ensure the association aligns with your business and personal identity. For example, associations tend to be either union friendly or merit-shop and often endorse one political party over the other. Make sure you understand what they stand for—you don’t want your association fees fighting against you. Also, consider whether a trade-specific association is more suitable for your business than a general one. They may be smaller, but often have better industry-specific training and resources.
If you are fortunate enough to still be considering several options after your research, my advice is to pick the association with meeting times that don’t conflict with your wife’s book club night.