At their best, associations are a microcosm of their industry. “What’s in it for me?” you ask?
Construct Marketing Principal George Compton spent the first 15 years of his career at the head of a professional association in the heavy construction industry. Here is his answer…
It’s a great place to listen. To me, listening is synonymous with learning. An association can offer layers of opportunities for listening. Listening in the conference presentations is one thing, but pretty obvious. But where we can keep our ear to the ground on industry happenings and movement is perhaps not at obvious. Listening by reading the association magazine or newsletter, listening in association committee meetings, listening at a random table at the conference luncheon. All these situations can give industry players a great deal of perspective from fellow industry members.
As a value to marketing, they offer an excellent means to look at the industry from another’s point of view, and that’s strategic and a competitive advantage.
Member volunteers are vital to an association. Underwriters support the organization. Event sponsors make it possible for those events to be viable, and to exist and serve the industry. These volunteer opportunities are abundant in any construction association. There is a promotional side to altruism, of course. Supporting a construction association has the benefit of associating yourself, your company, and your brand with a common industry interest, and industry benefit. That’s high visibility leadership (and damned good PR) for everyone in the industry to see.
Associations are looking for good people. They’re not going to ask you to be president the day you walk in the door, but a simple ask around will reveal where the needs are. You may have to do some grunt work (relatively speaking), but opportunities for leadership roles are everywhere. Committees, event planning, governance, thought leadership, etc. Maybe there’s an industry issue that the association isn’t yet addressing that they need to, and you create your own space to make it happen. Whatever need you fill in an association, it is sure to put you in connection with more people. That alone creates opportunities.
Being in the mix in your association is a valuable profile boost, but be careful – leadership transcends.
Don’t blame me if you look around one day and people ask for you to do more.