All the reasons you should join an industry organization (and taking your business to the next level in the process).
As a small business owner, you want to continually be growing yourself, your team and your business. And one of the best ways to do that? Join an industry association.
While some business owners may think that industry associations are for professionals at the beginning of their careers, the truth is, these organizations offer a huge variety of benefits.
But the question is what, exactly, do industry associations have to offer established business owners—and how can they help your business?
Let’s take a look at nine reasons you should consider joining an industry association (and how your membership can help take your business to the next level).
1. Expand Your Network With Like-minded Professionals…
When you’re running and growing a business, it’s not just what you know that can help make you successful. Who you know can be just as important.
Industry associations are a great way to connect with contacts within your industry—and, in particular, to connect with other business owners. Having relationships with other business owners in your industry can add huge value to your company; because they know the ins and outs of what it’s like to run a business in your specific field—and have experienced many of the same highs and lows you have—they can be a great sounding board for exploring new ideas, working through challenges, or helping you grow your business (for example, by sharing their experience or by introducing you to industry contacts).
2. …and Potential Star Players for Your Team
Industry associations are a great place to connect with other business owners. But they can also be a great place to connect with great talent within your industry.
If someone joins an industry association, chances are they’re committed to learning and growing within that industry—and that level of commitment to growth and education can be a huge asset to your company. Joining an industry association, attending events and connecting with talent can be a great way to scout potential talent for your organization—and identify the next star player you want to bring onto your team.
3. Connect With (or Be) a Mentor
Industry associations have members at every stage of their career, from junior employees just getting started to industry veterans who have built thriving, successful businesses. No matter where you are in your business, chances are your industry association will have members that are both not as far and much further in their career journey than you are.
And with such a wide spectrum of talent represented, industry associations offer an excellent chance for mentorship—either as a mentor or as a mentee.
Depending on your needs, joining an industry association can connect you with more experienced business owners that can act as a mentor—or you can make yourself available to mentor new business owners or more junior members. Either way, it’s a great way to either give or receive support, advice and mentorship from other players in your industry.
4. Grow As a Business Owner
Most industry associations offer a variety of educational opportunities, from industry-specific training to more general workshops on skills that can help you become a stronger business owner (like public speaking, sales, or recruiting and hiring). By engaging with those educational opportunities, you can grow as an entrepreneur—and grow your business in the process.
(One thing to keep in mind? It doesn’t matter how many educational opportunities an industry association offers—those opportunities can only help you grow as a business owner if you engage with them. So if you want to leverage industry associations for professional growth, make sure you’re willing to put the time and effort into exploring the educational opportunities the association offers.)
5. Give Your Reputation a Lift Through Industry Associations
Reputation is everything in the business world. You want to be known as a company that’s committed to quality, growth and innovation.
And joining an industry association is a great way to build that kind of reputation within your industry.
When you become a member of an industry association, it sends a message. It says that you take your business seriously enough to invest your time, energy and resources outside of office hours into learning everything you can to build the most successful business possible—and that message can seriously resonate with your colleagues, your team, your prospects and your customers.
6. Advocate for Your Industry
Most industries have common issues that impact nearly all businesses that operate within the space—including different laws, regulations and policies that may prevent your business from growing to its full potential.
Professional organizations regularly lobby the government on behalf of their industry (and the businesses within that industry) to ensure their interests are protected.
By joining an industry organization, you can become an active advocate for your industry and fight for what’s best for your business and your customers (or, at the very least, stay on top of what’s being advocated for on your behalf).
7. Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of Industry Trends
There is only one thing you can pretty much guarantee in business (regardless of the industry that you’re in)—things are constantly changing.
Joining an industry association is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of how your industry is growing and changing, stay on top of emerging trends, and keep up-to-date on the information you need to stay on the cutting edge of your industry.
8. Find New Opportunities For Your Business
Industry associations can also be a great way to tap into a variety of opportunities for your business.
For example, many industry associations offer exclusive member discounts on a variety of business-related goods and services (like office supplies, car insurance and health care programs)—discounts you won’t be able to find elsewhere.
Industry associations can also help open the door to opportunities for your business through the people you meet—for example, you might develop stronger vendor relationships through your membership, or get the opportunity to work with other members on a collaborative project that increases your industry reach (and drives growth for your business as a result).
9. Gain a Competitive Advantage
Any of the points we listed are reason enough to consider joining an industry association. But when you put them altogether, they culminate in what is arguably the most important and beneficial reason to join a professional organization—and that’s the fact that your membership can help you gain a competitive advantage in your market.
The opportunity to network with industry professionals, learn more about your industry and grow as a business owner—all opportunities that are par for the course when you join an industry association—can make your business stronger, and give you an advantage over your competitors that don’t have access to those same opportunities.
And if that’s not a good reason to consider joining an industry association, we don’t know what is.
Join an Industry Association to Grow Yourself and Your Business
Industry associations are really about growth—growth for yourself and growth for your business. And now that you know some of the top reasons you should consider joining a professional association, we hope you’ll get out there, find the right association in your industry, and use it to take your business (and yourself!) to the next level.
This post was updated in October, 2020.