Today’s Guest Post is written by Brit Bertino. Brit is the President of the Wedding Industry Professionals Association, a national organization that brings together the nation’s top wedding professionals for continuing education, networking, and collaboration. For more information, please visit www.wipa.org.
Joining a professional association can be one of the best things you do for yourself and your company, but only if you choose the best fit. If you’re an expert florist, for example, you probably won’t get that much out of joining a wedding photographers’ association beyond a few confused looks.
For that reason, it’s essential to do your due diligence in researching industry associations before taking the plunge. Since you plan to be committing both time and money to the group, you’ll want it to be one that truly falls in line with your brand. Everyone’s businesses are different from each other, so you’ll need to find the one that suits your overall needs and wants – not your competitor’s.
Ask yourself: What do you want out of your membership? Are you looking to simply network? Do you want to connect with the best suppliers or with the end client? Are you seeking additional education?
Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, it will make the research process much easier. Dive into your local groups and see which is the best match for you. If you have industry buddies who share similar values as you, ask them what organizations they are a part of. Every region has strong and weak chapters of different organizations, so you’ll need to find the one that can provide you with the biggest return.
The question is – local or national? Both have their benefits and it all comes down to your brand. If you’re strongly rooted in the local community, then it would make sense to stick close to home. On the other hand, if you’re looking to change the industry, then participating on the larger national scale could benefit you and your plans.
Once you find the right fit, reach out to the membership chair to see what your next steps are. You’ll most likely need to submit an application and dues before you can really get involved, but aim to attend the next event to start meeting people and taking advantage of your new membership.
When you’re in, remember to participate and be involved in the association. You can’t just go to one or two events throughout your membership period; otherwise, it’ll be a waste of the wonderful opportunities that come with being a part of the group. Attend events, volunteer to sponsor them, join committee, and get involved in the leadership side of things. The deeper your roots, the better known you’ll become in your community – so what’s holding you back?