The event industry is fortunate to have many associations available for networking, education, and growth opportunities. Each provides a unique set of membership benefits, but they all share one thing in common: they help event professionals grow their careers and discover new ways to help their companies grow. Additionally, they provide a network of support during good times and bad, particularly in associations with local chapters.
This year, especially, having a solid support group has been invaluable for many event professionals. In light of the pandemic, industry associations have diligently produced and delivered educational content to help event pros navigate the uncertainties of 2020. In a year that left many feeling alone, association membership is a port in the storm, a safe haven to call home while you figure things out.
At this point, savvy event pros are analyzing each and every investment for a strong ROI to better determine the channels that are worth financing. It’s safe to say that joining or renewing a membership should be a top priority.
Of course, the perks of association membership goes as far as your commitment to the group. Those who attend meetings, vote on leadership, and participate in chapter activities will surely reap the benefits of being surrounded by like-minded industry peers. However, non-participants who simply want to add an association to their resume will not gain much from membership.
With that said, here are the five top reasons to join an industry association in 2021.
Grow your network
There are few things more valuable in business than a solid network and becoming a member of an association is one of the easiest ways to expand your reach in the industry. Your local chapters are filled with event pros in your region (including some you may know!) and, when you join, you build an instant connection with everyone involved. Suddenly, you all share something in common—the perfect icebreaker!
It is far more efficient than sending out cold emails and liking social media posts to get other vendors’ attention. Knowing the right person at the right time can open up new partnerships for your business, so joining an association can be a quick way to increase the opportunities at your disposal. This will be especially vital in 2021 as the industry looks ahead to rebuilding, with many event pros seeking to make up for lost time.
Seek help when needed
Have you ever had a business question that you wish you could just ask someone more experienced? Or, have you suddenly found yourself in need of a last-minute replacement after a vendor goes MIA? Perhaps you needed some guidance when applying for disaster loans earlier this year.
When you are a member of an association, you have access to a group of industry peers who have varied experience across the business landscape. Instead of feeling like you have to go it alone, you can lean on your association to see if anyone is able to help you find the solution you are seeking.
Learn something new
Continuing education has become a cornerstone of the event industry. While you may splurge on a couple of annual conferences or workshop retreats each year, joining an association can provide you with education at your fingertips. Most local chapters host monthly or quarterly gatherings with industry thought leaders speaking about the latest topics of interest.
Better yet, some groups also provide on-demand education online in the form of webinars and downloadable content—especially in light of COVID-19. Skip the travel and accommodations fee and, instead, get your learning on closer to home. Many groups have offered COVID-specific topics to help their members with marketing, staffing, sales, and client management concerns throughout the crisis.
Showcase your expertise.
Vendor referrals are worth their weight in gold, but you can only earn them from peers who have seen your work in action. Of course, it could take a while to work with every local vendor you’d like to know, limiting your potential for receiving referrals. Association members, however, have the unique opportunity to contribute products and services to chapter events.
For each meeting, florists can provide centerpieces, caterers can provide food and beverage service, photographers can shoot the event, and so on. When you offer up your time, you get to put your work on display in front of the whole chapter and open up the important conversations that often lead to referrals.
Perhaps one of the biggest value propositions of association membership is the opportunity to gain leadership experience by serving the group. There are many ways to get involved, so do not feel like you need to become president when you are not ready.
Local chapters are made up of an array of committees, so you can volunteer to be in a committe— or even become a chair of a committee. Have some ideas for speakers? Sign up for the educational or events committee. Got a knack for marketing? Lead the marketing committee! Committed to growing the chapter as a whole? You may do well in the membership committee. There are roles for every skill set, so do not be shy about asking about the options available.
The ups and downs of 2020 have shown us that it is more important than ever to build a network that can lift us up (and vice versa). By joining an industry association, you are effectively signing up for many new connections that can lead to countless opportunities for your business. From there, remain dedicated to showing up for your chapter and for your peers and you will surely see the generosity returned in favor.