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Transforming Yourself from Member to Leader

Membership in an industry association is one of the best ways to begin building a solid events business. You not only make critical connections, but learn the ins-and-outs of events in general and your region in particular.

When you’re ready to step up your game and take your business to the next level, one route is to transform yourself from a member to a leader in your association. How will you know the time is right? What do you need to do and how can you make sure that your ascension is successful? Read on my ambitious colleague!

Is it time?

After you’ve been involved in your association for some time, have served on a committee and have learned a bit more about your organization, you may feel ready to take on a leadership role as I did when my membership first evolved. Committee work really opens your eyes to the opportunities and challenges of leadership, so start there to test the waters and hone in on the roles for which you are best suited.

Photo courtesy Dylan Gillis

Understand the commitment

Leadership is time-consuming, so be prepared to allocate a good amount of yours to the association. This means your business must be in order, so do a good personal inventory before signing on the dotted line.

Also, don’t have unreasonable expectations. Don’t convince yourself that you’ll be booking events left and right simply because you’re a leader. You have to be patient and put in the legwork. It’s sweat equity and it will take a while to pay off. Additionally, members will come to you with their concerns and expect you will have the bandwidth to worry about their problems in addition to your own. You become part of the value of their membership. Leadership is, in many ways, a servant’s route to the top, requiring patience and a very generous spirit.

Do the job well

Like any exposure in the industry, what you do as an association leader reflects on others’ perception of how your business runs. So, do the job well. Answer emails in a timely and professional manner. Be as impartial and fair as possible when asked to intervene in a conflict. Do everything you can to leave your bias at home as your first allegiance is to your association when you accept a role as a leader. In my experience, listening is always more powerful than talking.

An industry association leadership role is a powerful platform for positioning yourself as a credible expert, but only if you are dedicated and work hard to perform your role with integrity. Be an educator, a listener, and a thoughtful observer. Exercise patience. If you approach leadership the right way, you’ll enjoy the rewards in your business and your professional relationships!

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Kevin Dennis

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.