The challenge for many associations – both for profit and not-for-profit – is being able to answer the question: “what is in it for me?”
Research has suggested that over 85% of businesses that fail are not association members. This statistic alone should be setting off alarm bells if you are not already a member of an association, however there is more to membership that just ‘being a member’. An association is a resource of knowledge and know-how and while membership to an any industry association is not key to the success of a particular business it can be a very important component if it is leveraged wisely.
Obviously the specific benefits of an association’s membership will vary according to what the industry is, how many members it has and whether or not it has paid staff or is run by volunteers.
As with any business an association provides a list of services that are available to members but ultimately it is up to how involved the members want to be in their association as to how or even whether or not they can benefit from being a member. Just saying “I am a member” gives little benefit. You have to be involved, participate in association activities and make the most of the wealth of knowledge that lies beneath the surface.
There are some benefits of membership that are universal. These are in additional to specific industry benefits which may well be available to members.
Some of the primary benefits of membership in associations and how the most successful members are able to take advantage of these include:
- Networking – the most obvious benefit of joining an association. It is filled with potential contacts and clients who are like-minded and who can help your business grow. The more active members of an association are able to build long-term relationships and partnerships that are mutually beneficial. An association is a platform where you can come together to share ideas, find a new job/employee, strengthen ties and make connections that might not otherwise be possible.
- Education – ongoing education and continued development and participation in training opportunities are crucial for those seeking to get to the top of any industry. If you or your company are already a leader in the field then education is an important key to keep you on top. An association will usually hold regular workshops, seminars and other educational opportunities for members to learn and grow, but even outside this formal educational framework there is peer-to-peer learning and mentorship opportunities while allow members to share their knowledge and experience.
- Information – an association can be an up-to-date source of news and give advise on changes and or developments that affect your business and the wider industry or industry sector which it represents via websites, newsletters, electronic and social media communications to assist members.
- Influence – a key benefit to membership is the potential to influence legislation that affects the industry. A combination of knowledge, connections and resources can be used to lobby lawmakers and sway the court of public opinion. With the increase in government regulations being faced by many industries this ‘collective power’ is an integral part of the power of association membership.
- Best Practices – all industries have best practices that are specific to that industry and essential for efficient and quality outputs. For anyone who is new to the industry and industry association can be vital learning source for these practices and their updates.
- Certification – many associations provide licensing or certification that is not available to non-members. For logistical reasons those associations that are run without any paid employees usually do not provide this benefit, but for those that do it can be key to have a marketing edge over your competitors, provide best-practices, and ensure a level of reliability from the clients perspective..
- Exchange of Ideas – members can help determine the role which the access to information and industry updates can play. An association is a forum for members to share knowledge and brain-storm idea on how to improve the industry. Experienced members can help nurture newer members (if they desire) while all members can benefit from the opportunity to share innovative ideas which can help you and your fellow members businesses and the industry as a whole.
- Relationships – as a member the opportunity exists to build friendships and personal relationships with a common thread that can last a lifetime.
These are just some of the most common benefits of membership in any associations, local nation or international, which together with industry specific benefits such as those offered to members of the Asia Pacific Spa & Wellness Coalition at www.apswc.org/product/apswc-membership/, surely a membership fee is a small price to pay for the world of opportunity and growth that awaits.