OPEN HOUSE 2021: Should I join a trade association?

By: Todd Burgard—President, Burgard

Name any industry, and you will find countless trade-specific associations available to folks within those professions. For us builders, contractors, and suppliers, it’s no different. You may have even considered joining one. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss the pros and cons of industry associations and, hopefully, help you decide whether membership is right for you.

PROS

  • Networking opportunities. There’s no doubt that networking with others in your industry has immense value. Expanding your network can mean qualified-lead generation and synergy with
    other companies.
  • Educational resources & training. Conferences, seminars, and information from industry leaders can be powerful tools to build your business.
  • Representation. Associations can advocate for legislation on behalf of businesses in your industry and sometimes offer legal representation as well.
  • Reputation. Adding an association membership next to your company name can create instant credibility and promote you as a true professional.

CONS

  • Cost. All associations require membership dues and perhaps fees—some higher than others.
  • Time. Your experience will only benefit from participation, which means time. Expect a more significant time investment if you take a leadership role.
  • Guilt by association. Some associations take political or social stances that may not agree with your values. Ask questions if this is a concern for you.

If you’re wondering about membership in a trade association, you may find a better perspective by talking with current members, researching the organization, and interviewing the leadership within your local chapter. Check out their website to see what kind of events they hold and the tools they offer your business. Review their member list to determine if the network of individuals and companies is a good fit for you. And finally, remember that growth—whether personal, professional, or business revenue—should be the outcome. 

In the end, the answer to, “Does it make sense for me to join an association?” would be, “It depends.” Like anything worth doing, you only get out what you put into it. You must weigh the investment of time, the cost of membership dues, and the level of engagement against any potential value you see your business receiving. And, only you can determine that.

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