For some reason I always thought that joining an association that is in my field was... well, kind of pointless. Why would anybody want to be a part of an organization that is comprised of competitors or peers? It was also like the old bit: "I wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would have someone like me as a member."
After one year of being directly involved with three industry-related associations: IAB Canada (Interactive Advertising Bureau), CMA (Canadian Marketing Association) and NABS (National Advertising Benevolent Society), my feelings have changed radically.
I guess I should have heeded the advice of my own keynote, "The Art Of Networking." Being part of my industry's key associations is a critical component in helping to ensure that the integrity of the industry continues, I build a network of allies and grow my industry (and business) in ways that were not previously on my radar.
Next week I'll be spending two days in Toronto as part of the CMA's (Canadian Marketing Association) eMarketing Council and then on the committee to help organize the CMA's annual Digital Marketing Conference. I take these postings very seriously as the outcome truly defines how Canadians define or will define certain aspects of their marketing strategy.
If ever given an opportunity to get involved (hey, why wait for an invitation? Go out and offer your services!), I can't say enough great things about it. Being part of the CMA also puts me in Toronto at least once a month so I further the value of the trip by making appointments with clients, colleagues, friends and family.
I used to be myopic when it came to understanding the value of joining these types of organizations. Thanks to the CMA and some pushing from a colleague (Thanks Howard), I'm beginning to grow, learn and help in an area I had been neglecting (upon reflection) for so many years.
So get involved in your industry. Make sure that the quality by which you govern your own business is maintained throughout, and that you build a valuable chain of contacts and peers who are also looking to help, add value and grow.