Local Business Associations (usually based around a council region) have been around for a long time – since the early 1970s in Western Australia. Often starting as ‘businessman’ associations and possibly with various connotations that come to mind with that term, why would joining a business association be good for your business?
For a start many have come a long way since that more seedy time of the 70s and 80s when businessmen were served by skimpy waitresses at regular long lunches!
Here are some reasons why you should consider joining your local business association. They may be much more contemporary and beneficial than you first thought.
It goes without saying really. Networking is a pretty major reason to join. You get to meet other business owners in your area. They may not all be potential clients but you’ll meet people who can be referrals to their business associates or others who may need your services. In fact, the more involved you are, the more people get to know you and will be inclined to help open doors. Networking isn’t only for business leads. You’ll be able to get referrals for services or vendors; discover alliance opportunities; and even find prospective job candidates. Associations are also a great forum in which to glean and share best practices that are relevant to your business.
If you a new business owner by joining a business association it will provide you with the contact information for other local businesses, speeding up the process of integrating you into the community.
Education and Training
Some business associations offer a range of seminars and workshops which as a member you can take advantage as they often offer special member pricing on their training.
A local business association is likely to have a great working relationship and dialogue with local, state and maybe even federal government. While they are not a lobby group they will advocate for their members and can make a significant representation on issues that are likely to affect the local business community.
The professional networking may well be the initial reason to join a business association but the friendship and camaraderie experienced once having joined can be a welcome side benefit. Business Associations often host dinners, Awards Nights and other more social events so entrepreneurs get to know each other at a deeper level. Participation in a business association may also serve as a social expectation in a community where small business owners know one another through work as well as outside of it.
Improved Business Climate
The result of participating in a business association, whatever immediate benefits it provides, should be an improvement in an area’s business climate. As business owners get to know one another they find ways to share resources, unite on important issues and develop new tools for securing their profitability in the community and creating an atmosphere that encourages competition and attracts customers. With effective leadership and adequate participation, a business association can make it easier for its members to make money and also enjoy the process.
And one last thing…
By belonging to a local business association it can increase your business’s credibility. Potential clients or customers often view membership of business groups and associations as a sign you’re an established business and accepted within the local business community.
Are you a member of a local business association? It might be SBA or others. Please share your experiences below. Why did you join? What do you like best about being a member?