It is important to think about and identify your reasons to engage with your industry. Engaging with your industry without a compelling reason will not be sufficient to muster the energy, support, and time needed to do so. You can engage with your industry for a variety of reasons including the following:
- Identify talent. Due to changing demographics, the employment marketplace continues to be highly competitive. Your organization’s fast-changing technologies make some skills instantly obsolete, and some skills inordinately valuable. Your organization’s fast-changing business model requires talent in new locations across the globe. Your organization’s strategic growth demands that a talent pipeline exist at all times, not just when a need arises. While talent is easier to find due to technological advances (i.e., resume readers) and social media (i.e., LinkedIn), talent is harder to land as everyone else is using the same technology and social media tools. Industry associations provide rich reserves of talent that you can tap to help you and your organization fill the pipeline. Some of these individuals may be between jobs, while others are actively and happily employed. Regardless of their status, you will meet many experienced colleagues who can fill current or future needs through industry associations.
- Hear best practices. Industry associations provide services to their members that focus on building community, providing education, and creating opportunity though:
- Meetings. Industry associations host member meetings on a recurring basis. These meetings may include opportunities to raise your visibility with colleagues, discussions regarding the industry, or presentations by industry experts.
- Workshops and Webinars. Industry associations host workshops and webinars for members, usually with an external speaker or facilitator, to help members build their skills and learn new information.
- Panels. Industry associations host panel presentations comprised of industry leaders (maybe you!) to share information and create dialogue.
- Conferences. Industry associations host one- to three-day conferences designed to bring together thought leaders and vendors to showcase the very best the industry has to offer. The downside is that industry conferences are usually located at beautiful destinations, held in gorgeous conference centers, and surrounded by luxurious accommodations. Not a bad downside.
- Introduce best practices. Perhaps you are attending an industry event during the workday. Perhaps your organization has paid for your industry association dues or registration fees. If you are attending industry events where information is being shared, it is expected that you introduce best practices back at your workplace that will help your organization achieve its goals. If you don’t share what you are experiencing at an industry event with your boss or introduce best practices to your organization, your boss may begin to question the value of your participation. Many of your colleagues have heard about how to implement a Six Sigma process improvement, how to integrate changes to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and how to transition to a WordPress website at an industry meeting. Hearing about these best practices is interesting – introducing them back to your organization is priceless.
- Meet experts. You have a lot going on at your organization, and a key asset to accelerating your progress is meeting someone who has already done what you are doing. Whatever you are attempting to introduce or implement at your organization, there is someone who has “been there, done that.” Industry associations are fantastic places to meet colleagues who can provide you valuable insights, compelling lessons, and meaningful recommendations to ensure your success. In some cases, the experience of a colleague pays for your membership many times over.
- Demonstrate openness. Your fast-paced organization demands your attention and effort 100% of the time, but your fast-paced industry also makes it challenging to stay current. By engaging with your industry, you demonstrate to your internal clients and colleagues that you are not satisfied with the status quo. If you want to keep your organization on the cutting edge, you have to stay sharp. Industry associations are a great place to sharpen your edge.