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April 25, 2017
Your business’ networking plan likely includes membership in one or more of your local business associations. If it doesn’t, finish reading this, then go join one. These are high-exposure avenues that can really help your business grow. The organizations themselves exist to provide tools and shared-interest events with other local small businesses, so adding your name to the list can really go a long way toward growth.
Keep in mind, however, that like anything else, there are positives and negatives to joining a business association. Here are some things to consider when joining and participating:
A Few Pros
1. Excellent Networking Opportunities. The main purpose of these organizations is networking. Every member is there for the same reason, and most of them would prefer to work with a member company before an outsider (in turn hoping that you will do the same). Aside of building your business, you have a great chance to hone your sales-pitch and talk about your product.
2. Loads of Advice. There are likely members who are new to the business world, and those who are veterans of many years. One thing that seems to be common is that they all are more than willing to offer advice. Listen to what people have to say and use some of the newly gained knowledge to your advantage.
3. Shared-Marketing. Your organization can only exist if the businesses that are part of it succeed – at least to some degree. They actively market your business (through their web site and other avenues), and some even generate leads directly to their members. Utilize their marketing services to attract new business.
A Few Cons
1. Membership Fee. As with anything else, these organizations aren’t free. Most require a minimal application and an annual membership fee. While the fee isn’t usually overly burdensome, it’s still an expense you’ll have to take into account – especially if you’re just starting out.
2. You Must Participate. In order to get any use out of your membership, you must dedicate a decent amount of time each month to it – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but something you have to consider.
3. Competition. If your group is large enough, you’ll likely run into someone who competes with you directly. If you’re both getting the same advice and leads, it can be difficult to see an advantage in your membership. However, instead of looking at the negatives, see if there’s common ground you and your competition can find to help both businesses.
Being part of a local business association is a quick and efficient way to grow your business’ networking opportunities, so make sure you take full advantage.