Last, we learned about the various roles you can play when engaging with industry associations. Each role has varying degrees of commitment and complexity. Here are a few details for each:
- Guest. Also known affectionately as a “non-member,” most association meetings and events are open to everyone. Attending an industry association event before you join the association is a great way to “kick the tires” to assess if this is the group for you.
- Member. Once you join the association, you become eligible for the benefits that come with membership, including reduced registration prices for events and access to industry resources that are not open to non-members.
- Writer/blogger. Most industry associations have a website, a newsletter, and a blog. If attending a meeting is not possible for you, perhaps providing content for an industry publication is an alternative. Even if you cannot attend every meeting, you can identify a topic of interest to the membership for publication. Industry associations are always seeking content for their newsletters, and your submission will be welcomed.
- Committee volunteer. Most associations have a number of committees that allow you to help the association including finance, marketing, membership, programming, professional development, public relations, and sponsorship. As a volunteer on a committee, you can bring your professional expertise (i.e., your talent with numbers or your love of the sales process) to the association during the year. Many individuals join a committee before moving on to more complex roles, such as serving on the Board.
- Special project volunteer. If participating on a committee for a year feels like too much of a commitment, your industry association may host a special event (e.g., a regional conference) during the year. These special events are like a project – they have a start and end date – and once the event is over, so is your commitment.
- Workshop/webinar/teleclass facilitator, speaker, or panelist. Whether you join your industry association or not, presenting or participating on a panel is a good way to engage with your industry. Associations are always looking for speakers who will elevate the education level of their members.
- Board of Directors member. When you are ready to maximize your visibility within your industry, the Board of Directors is the place for you. Being on an association Board requires the highest degree of commitment, and represents the highest degree of complexity. Board roles typically include President, President-Elect, and Vice-President for the committee roles listed earlier. Being on a Board can be a very rewarding experience as it provides you the greatest opportunity to impact member experience.