For entrepreneurs and business owners, visibility and networking are key, but these are just a couple of the many reasons it's a good idea to join industry associations. Local, regional, and national industry associations offer a wide range of opportunities that can lead to enhanced business relationships and, ultimately, greater success.
Here are 10 reasons why joining an industry-related association is well worth the time and effort:
1. Access to education and training. In many cases, membership in an industry association leads directly to advanced education and training programs, which help you maintain your edge and keep your skills sharp and current.
2. Enhanced benefits programs. Some associations offer members access to group healthcare benefits and other perks as a reward for their investment.
3. Access to membership directories. A lot of associations maintain directories, in which members' businesses are listed. This can help you increase your exposure to new markets and potential clients.
4. Competitive advantage. Taking advantage of association resources can help you earn and maintain an edge over non-member competitors, thanks to access to inside information and advanced training opportunities.
5. Access to certification and licensing programs. Many associations support member certification and licensing initiatives, both required and optional. This offers you an excellent opportunity to diversify and expand your skill set, qualifications, and marketability.
6. Privileged access to industry events and conferences. You may qualify for discounts or special access to upcoming conferences, trade shows, and events in your area.
7. Potential cost savings. Some industry associations grant member vendors access to special rates on products and services, saving them money and allowing them to price their goods more competitively and increase profit margins.
8. Inside access to innovations and new developments. Associations let you stay on top of new products, services, and innovations within your industry, helping you maintain a competitive and informational edge.
9. Opportunities to give back to the community. You can use your membership to share your knowledge with other member businesses and promote a stronger sense of community cooperation. Many associations donate to charity events and provide member volunteer support and participation as a group.
10. Networking opportunities. Perhaps the most important benefit of these associations is that they provide you with an excellent opportunity to network with other professionals and entrepreneurs in your field.
Some payment industry, auto dealer and retail associations that may be of interest to you include:
- North American Home Furnishings Association
- National Automobile Dealers Association
- Electronic Transactions Association
- The National Hardwood Lumber Association
Of course, this is only a partial list; there are local and national associations in virtually every industry that actively welcome new members.
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