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Industry CCO

"Why Join an Association?"
By Kenneth R. Hutton, Senior Vice President

All associations face the challenge of constantly proving their value proposition to their current and prospective members. The question that starts the paragraph below is a critical question and an essential step to creating that value proposition as well as performing a self assessment regarding where your organization stands in the areas below. Please feel free to use this article to create your own value proposition and communicate it to your members.

Why bother to join and participate in an association? After all, association membership usually involves a commitment of time and money and, with so many other obligations pressing on your busy life, is one more commitment really worth it?

In case you have forgotten what association membership is all about-or in case you never really knew-browse through these 24 reasons for becoming involved. If you are already convinced of your association's value, don't turn the page. Clip it and pass it along to an industry friend or acquaintance that might benefit from membership.

Well then: Why should you join and participate in an association?

ADVOCACY. Associations represent your interests before the business community and government. If your business or industry faces major threats, your association can be the vehicle fighting for you.

BENEFITS. Associations provide a forum for discussion and an exchange if ideas during meetings and other educational and networking events. This benefit is a structural opportunity for members and vendors to discuss issues and trends in your industry.

CONVENIENCE. When you are facing a problem, isn't it great to be able to shop for a variety of solutions under one roof? Associations offer a "one-stop" center for advice, contacts, inspiration and suggestions on a wide range of topics.

DATA. Want to know the current trends in your industry? Want to understand the most recent costs and margins? Want to get a handle on what salaries, wages, and benefits are in your industry? Your association can furnish you with up-to-date data on a variety of issues when you participate in member surveys.

ECONOMY. Do not reinvent the wheel when it comes to saving money, consolidating an operation, or enhancing efficiency. Tell your association peers what you are trying to do, and they can share with you how they have already done it!

FRIENDSHIP. Your association provides members with the opportunity to discuss their mutual problems...probe new directions...share and criticize each other's thoughts...all with a high degree of respect and candor.

GROWTH. Associations represent the interests of your industry and many continue to grow to accommodate the diverse needs of a changing membership.

HAPPENINGS. Associations sponsor a variety of enriching events and activities; conferences, receptions, luncheons, forums, and more.

IDEAS. One of the most valuable benefits of association membership is the opportunity to "listen in" on the creativity of peers. Associations are like rich farm soil; once fertilized with the participation of members, bold new ideas sprout up everywhere.

JOURNALS. Associations are known for their publications; journals, manuals, and newsletters are full of industry activity, trend information, research and commentary, and all available to you.

KNOW-HOW. Got a problem? Need technical advice? Help with a thorny accounting issue? Associations as near as the telephone, fax, or e-mail. If you need more detailed information, your association can put you in touch with one or more individuals who have the know-how you need.

LEADERSHIP. Your business or industry needs leaders -- people who can actively mobilize you and your peers toward industry-wide action and who can chart your industry's future. Associations produce voluntary leadership that can make a difference.

MANAGEMENT. Associations are a cost-effective vehicle for managing industry-wide concerns and activities.

NETWORKING. "Networking" is one of today's buzzwords. The events, meetings, member directories, and information exchanges make networking a reality for you and your peers.

OBSERVATION. An association is much like a telescope: it gives members the opportunity to survey the national scene. It is also like a microscope: an association gives its members the chance to probe important industry and economic issues with great precision.

PROFIT. Face it: you are in business to make a profit. Your ability to generate profit is a primary concern, and the association's programs are ultimately geared to help you survive, prosper, and profit.

QUALITY. In this quality-conscious age, the degree to which you are able to sustain high standards of product quality and customer service will strongly influence your ability to grow. Associations provide you with examples of firms "doing the right things right" and gives you the chance to learn from them.

RECOMMENDATIONS. Trying to solve a problem? Trying to set the stage for a new project? Associations can often point you in the direction of solutions and strategies.

SEMINARS. One of the best learning experiences provided by association membership is participation in the seminars and workshops offered during the Annual Meeting that is sponsored by your association. These thought-provoking educational sessions are led by successful peers as well as regionally and nationally recognized experts.

UNITY. You are never alone when you join an association. Membership gives you and your peers the opportunity to speak with a single voice on matters of importance to your industry.

VISION. A wise sage once said that a characteristic of a true leader is the ability to mobilize toward the future. Association's help you visualize the opportunities which lie ahead and find the tools necessary to turn those opportunities into sound business plans.

WARNINGS. Bad news on the economic horizon? The regulatory front? In the courts? Associations serve as an "early warning system" for its members and helps ward off potential industry-wide problems, and then works to produce solutions.

YOUTH. Through technology, associations can provide a variety of educational materials and public service programs to educate youth about the workings of the industries. Today's youth will become the leaders of your industry in the years ahead; your association membership helps bring this leadership to fruition.

ZEST. There is something special about celebrating your successes and triumphs with like-minded people, of achieving recognition for the good work you have done, and of feeling the tremendous satisfaction of true accomplishment. These are the true rewards of your business. Your association helps you make the most of them.