Are you ever challenged to validate your association membership to the accounting department? Association membership can open doors and create opportunities for your company that would be very difficult and costly without their assistance.

During high school, we were all encouraged to join a variety of extracurricular activities to build our resumes and make us more well-rounded people. As adults and business owners, joining an association has some of these same advantages, but it can also help grow your business. More so than ever before, concrete associations can serve as a conduit for greater opportunities.

Arguably the top reason for association involvement is the networking opportunities afforded to you through membership. Meetings are a great occasion for speaking with others in your industry. Other members may have implemented a new technology or found a way to solve a problem that has been plaguing your company for years. The friendly camaraderie allows everyone to speak openly and candidly about their business. Further, meetings provide you with the chance to learn what others are doing around the country, which is a valuable asset for staying on top of industry trends. Many annual or quarterly national meetings even offer a trade show for you to learn about some of the latest products. And, the relationships fostered at these meetings can last long after the final speaker and provide you with a colleague that acts as a sounding board throughout the year.

Industry associations are also a great medium for getting the word out about your company’s products and services. Most associations have printed newsletters that feature member profiles or project spotlights. Typically, these newsletters go to more than just members, but also to anyone interested in learning more about the industry. Further, they can be distributed at trade shows. Alternatively, an electronic edition of the newsletter may also exist as a second forum for information. All of this publicity positions you as an expert in your respective field. Another method for garnering attention in a newsletter is through advertising. Associations generally offer members a discounted advertising rate, and you are ensured that you are reaching a targeted audience.

Membership is almost always a prerequisite to submit to an association’s award program. While winning the award is the obvious goal, just submitting can also help your company. Association award submittals often provide the fodder for any public relations efforts throughout the year. Any unique attributes of a project may qualify your award for inclusion in an article that will appear in a leading trade publication. As mentioned in a previous column, public relations provides the third-party credibility that you cannot achieve with advertising and is cost-effective method for building your brand. Winning an award from an association is additional fuel for public relations opportunities. Local media may take interest in your project, which would only further position you as industry leader in your community.

Getting involved is critical to receiving the value of association membership. Associations often have presentations that have already been developed that are available for members to present at local or state organizations. For example, if you are a Tilt-Up concrete contractor, take advantage of the available presentations from the Tilt-Up Concrete Association. By using these prepared presentations to speak in front of your local ready-mixed association, you are utilizing an untapped outlet for growing your business. However, opportunities do not end with other associations. The chance to present in front of a local school board about the benefits of your construction method for educational facilities could mean a steady stream of new business. Also, associations need speakers for their own events and conferences. By becoming an active member, you are more likely to be considered for presenting opportunities. Additionally, serving on committees positions you for a leadership position within the organization as a member of the Board of Directors. This provides you with the ability to make decisions that influence both the association and industry.

Referrals are also a common benefit of association membership. If someone in your area needs an expert and called your association headquarters, it is likely that you will be referred. The value of this is immeasurable, because the client has already pre-qualified the association as a place to seek an expert opinion and their recommendation of your company is an incredible asset to your business. Further, many associations include a listing of members on the website and may even provide a link to your company’s site. Free magazine subscriptions are also common to help keep you abreast of the latest industry trends. Associations are frequent attendees at trade shows, which aids in increasing awareness about your industry. Your organization may also receive a discounted admission rate for members who attend the event.

Joining an industry association is much more than simply something to add to your company website or include in proposals. Active membership affords you a host of opportunities to grow both personally and professionally. Similar to your high school activities, it is up to you to make the most out of your membership. Investigate the offerings afforded to you through your association membership and determine what you may not be utilizing. Associations exist to advance the industry, which in turn, increases your business. Partner with them to meet your common goals and educate the marketplace about your industry.