• Why Entrepreneurs Need Trade Associations and How to Decide Which Ones to Join

    Most trade associations provide standard benefits to members including Why Entrepreneurs Need Trade Associationsnetworking opportunities, industry education, advertising opportunities, and discounts on related products and services. And though there are membership fees involved, when you join the right association and participate in the many opportunities available to members, that investment in fees should pay for itself many times over.

    There are two types of trade associations that entrepreneurs should consider joining:

    1. Your Industry Association – Find a trade association for people in your industry who do what you do. By participating in your industry association, you can learn about the latest developments in your field while also connecting with members who share similar work experience—which provides a chance to collaborate and learn from others.

    For example, a marketing consultant could join the American Marketing Association. While you won’t likely find many clients there, your time will be well spent if you take advantage of the learning opportunities, plus network with members who provide complimentary services.

    2. Associations Where Your Customers Spend Their Time – Since it’s less likely you will find customers within your industry association, figure out where your target customers spend their time and join that association. You may need to think outside of the box if you typically cast a wide net, which may cause you to develop a more focused niche.

    For example, if you are a social media consultant, you might decide to focus on the automotive industry and join an auto industry trade association. A financial advisor who specializes in working with women might join a women’s business association. A corporate trainer might join a human resources association since the HR department usually has the purchasing power for training services.

    To find trade associations, try searching Google for keyword combinations such as <industry> + “association.” There is also a mammoth-sized book that you can purchase or check out at the library: “National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States.”

    The most important thing to remember about trade associations is that you only get out of them what you are willing to put into them. Simply being a member won’t provide much value if you don’t participate in meetings and conferences and engage with the members. Set a goal to make connections and you will inevitably find a tremendous amount of value from your membership.

    Filed Under: Business GrowthMarketing by SCSmall Business

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    About the Author: Stephanie Chandler is an author of nine books including Own Your Niche: Hype-Free Internet Marketing Tactics to Establish Authority in Your Field and Promote Your Service-Based Business and The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Simple Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books. She is also founder and CEO of Authority Publishing, a custom publisher of nonfiction books, BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of resources for entrepreneurs, and the Nonfiction Authors Association, a marketing community for trailblazers. She has been featured in Entrepreneur magazine, BusinessWeek, Inc.com, and Wired magazine, and she is a contributing blogger for Forbes. For author and speaker details, visit http://StephanieChandler.com. The 2015 Nonfiction Writers Conferencereturns May 6-8, 2015! Reserve your seat at this virtual event now!

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    1. Thanks, this article is just what I was looking for! I agree that joining the associations that your customers belong to is valuable. Do you have any specific suggestions for associations catering to website owners?

      Thanks!

      • Hi Marilyn,
        Website owners is a LARGE group of people! Just about anyone who owns a business also runs a website. It sounds to me like you may need to narrow your focus and pick a niche. Perhaps you could look for a social media association–or some other type of technology-based group to join? Or look through your past client list and see if there is a theme there. Have you worked with a high number of consultants? Consider joining the Institute of Management Consultants. Have you worked with dentists? They have several organizations. In your case, it may make sense to participate in multiple trade associations.

        Good luck!

    2. Great advice – for generalists in consulting, it might be wise to try and focus on one or two industries because in today’s world people are looking for those who offer niche/custom solutions.

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