By Kevin Dennis, WeddingIQ
Membership in reputable industry associations, whether local or national, can come at a premium cost, not always just in money, but also in time, product and effort. It’s not enough to simply pay your dues and wait for a return; you also have to contribute your involvement in monthly meetings, special events and other networking opportunities to get the most out of your membership. You know what you bring to the table, but what kind of return can you expect? Why exactly should you join an industry association?
One of the most common reasons wedding professionals join industry associations is access to networking opportunities. What better way to meet like-minded peers than in a setting focused on promoting education and excellence in the wedding industry? The key to taking advantage of the networking benefit, though, is your own efforts and involvement.
First, you have to show up! It’s tough to meet folks and establish relationships if you miss every meeting. Your colleagues will be most likely to refer businesses with which they are familiar, and you can build that recognition through regular attendance and active participation.
Great associations commit to providing members with exclusive, invaluable education opportunities. Your dues and event admissions are translated into business-building knowledge that can help propel you to the next level. Most meetings feature expert speakers, and often there are multiple opportunities each year for you, and sometimes for your team, to engage in professional development. Choose an association that values education among its top priorities and you will undoubtedly see a return on your membership investment.
Exposure through Participation
A unique benefit to association membership is the opportunity to demonstrate your product or services to a group of professionals who may have need for what you sell. You can share your specialty baked goods, show off your design ideas or demonstrate something unique that sells best through experience. You not only get your brand in front of the key players, but you also build good will as you contribute value to the membership of others.
Generally, there is a programs or events committee that organizes contributions. Reach out and ask for the schedule of upcoming events and find out which needs you might be able to meet. Only sign up if you are truly committed to participating, though. Failure to come through will have an extremely detrimental effect on your business – the exact opposite of your goal for your membership!
Build Credibility and Take Advantage of Leadership Opportunities
Membership in reputable industry associations offers a level of credibility that many customers recognize, especially if you are a great ambassador and educate them about the value of your organization. Colleagues will also recognize your commitment to excellence and growth when they realize you are affiliated with a great association.
Even better, you get opportunities to lead. If you are able to commit the time and effort, you can build some of the strongest relationships through service as a chapter, regional or national leader. Start with a manageable role in which you are likely to excel and look for new opportunities as your familiarity with the organization grows. Your dedication and sacrifice will be rewarded through recognition and respect, leading naturally to business referrals and new levels of success.
The benefits of membership in an industry association are numerous if you are willing to do more than just pay your dues. The time and effort you invest can make all the difference in the world to the growth and success of your wedding business.