Association membership is a valuable way to access industry education, grow your network, increase brand awareness, and take advantage of leadership opportunities. But if you aren’t maximizing your presence, you won’t get much in return beyond a receipt for annual dues and a logo to add to your website.
Joining an association is exciting, and it’s common to dive headfirst into all the special events and resources. But the true value comes after sustained participation—when you’re no longer a newbie, but an established member influencing the future of your chapter. Carving out your role takes time and dedication, but it’s well worth the growth opportunities that open up with consistent involvement.
If you’re looking to make the most of your membership, follow these four steps and remember that you will only gain as much as you are willing to give.
Attend as many events as possible
Your dues pay for chapter events, so try to show up for as many as possible to get the full bang for your buck! Return on investment aside, regular attendance allows you to meet more people and make a name for yourself within the chapter. If you intend to pursue a leadership role someday, you’ll need your fellow members’ support (and votes), so commit to showing up and putting in the face time.
Offer your talents
Once you’ve gotten the lay of the land, consider contributing your products or services for an upcoming event. For instance, if you run a venue, you could host a meeting. Caterers can provide lunch, bakers can set up a dessert display, and florists can make centerpiece arrangements for the event. You have a lot to share! Not only will you demonstrate your willingness to lend a helping hand, but you’ll also put a spotlight on your offerings in front of people in a position to refer your business!
Turn conversations into relationships
Networking is one of the most valuable takeaways from association membership, but you have to put in the time to see results. While meeting and greeting other members is a must, it’s only the first step to building a network of meaningful relationships. Don’t let those connections remain once-a-month meetups—take them outside of the association! Small actions, like engaging on social media, inviting them to grab coffee, and sending referrals, can add up to mutually beneficial relationships that evolve into lifelong friendships.
Sign up for a committee
If you’re ready to take your participation to the next level, consider offering your time and expertise to a committee. Think about how you can leverage your skills to support the growth of your chapter. For example, if you’re a brilliant salesperson, you’d likely do well helping to promote membership! Or, if you have an extensive national network, you maybe could use your connections to plan programs and education. Your experience is valuable, and stepping up to a committee is a great way to position yourself for future leadership roles.
Industry associations can serve as a launching pad for your personal brand and your businesses’ growth, but you must give it your all to see the full value. Show up, be a team player, and focus on building purposeful relationships!
Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current international president for WIPA.