Joining an industry association is a big step for many event professionals. Not only is it a financial commitment, but it’s a time commitment as well. This is why it is essential to pick the association that best fits your company and its future goals, so you can become a valued member for years to come.
There are a handful of expectations that come with association membership – from numerous networking opportunities to building relationships with like-minded peers. While these benefits are certainly achievable, it’s important to remember the role you play in your involvement. You will not see company growth if you simply join an association and sit back to watch business roll in. As with many things, you must make a deliberate effort to really take advantage of your membership and make the most out of your new network.
Network, network, network
One of the easiest and most effective things to do within your association is simply to show up to their events! Review the schedule of upcoming events on their website and choose those that interest you the most. As event professionals, we all have very busy schedules and understandably can’t make time for each and every networking event.
However, opting out of association events is a waste of your membership – make it a point to attend at least four events per year in order to get some face time with other event professionals in the area. You’d be surprised how much referrals can do for your business!
Collaboration is key
If you consider yourself a networking pro and still want to increase brand recognition and vendor relationships, look into collaborating with your peers on an upcoming event. Whether you’re ready to share your favorite menu items with your local group or you’re dying to show off your design prowess, working with others not only puts your brand in front of the right people but you also get to build genuine relationships with other participants.
Reach out to the programs or events committee to sign up for an upcoming event that you can contribute your products or services. The only caveat is that you must be committed before signing up; your participation will have the opposite effect if you aren’t reliable or hard to communicate with. Go in with your all and prepare to show them your strengths!
Be a leader
So you’ve helped out on a few events and you know virtually every face in the crowd – now what? If you feel you’ve taken advantage of all that you can, it may be time to start seeking out leadership positions within the ranks. Ask yourself what you’re most interested in (Membership? Communications? Programs?) and be your very best at it. Most associations have annual elections for leadership positions, so prepare your platform and give it your all!
Being a part of an industry association is an invaluable opportunity that can provide some great experiences, but only if you’re taking full advantage of your membership. Be proactive and push yourself and your brand – you’ll surely see the return down the line!
Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.