Whatever profession you are involved in, whether it be green business consulting, architecture, legal or medical fields, or even small business, has at least one (and often more) professional associations, groups or organizations.
Very often, belonging to one of these organizations carries a certain prestige, and can be a useful marketing tool. Moreover, often, since these bodies tend to regulate their members activities, clients are more prone to choosing the services of a registered member.
Here are a few tips for choosing, joining, and maximizing your industry organization.
Whatever organization you choose to become a member of, and for whatever reason, active participation is key. It is not enough to merely have your name on a members list, and pay your annual fees!
Get involved in the organizations activities by volunteering your services for trade shows, special projects or conferences. Offer to speak, or to prepare a presentation for your chapter meeting. More important than anything though, make sure you attend as many meetings and special functions as possible. Not making an appearance is worse than not being a member – your colleagues and compatriots, or potential clients may think you have nothing worth saying!
At a later stage, you might consider putting yourself forward as a candidate to serve on a governing body. This allows you to get involved in activities, and is a great marketing tactic, since it will certainly boost your professional profile!
Making the Right Choice
As mentioned, there may be many professional organization bodies in your field. This can make choosing the right one a little difficult. There are a few factors that may affect your choice:
- Location and area of operation. For example, if you only operate in a certain city or state, it makes sense to join local associations, and perhaps a few non-industry bodies, such as the chamber of commerce. This will expose you to contacts and potential clients in your area.
- On the same note, if your company has a global footprint, choose organizations with the same reach.
- You might want to look at bodies not directly in your industry, but where your clients are likely to be found. For instance, if you provide a building consulting service, join a contractors association.
Whatever criteria you choose to select an organization, make sure that the benefits of joining are clear, and reassess your membership regularly – if you are not gaining from the relationship, it may be time to move on!
Trade Shows, Conferences and Seminars
Once you are a member of a professional organization, chances are there are going to be many opportunities to exhibit at trade shows, conferences and seminars. The time and effort involved in preparing for, and exhibiting or speaking at these events is certainly well spent, as, instead of one of the crowd, you gain individual exposure.
Make sure that you choose an event with the best marketing potential – whether it be making the best contacts, or reaching the most clients, and make sure that your presentation or exhibition presents your company in the best possible light.