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A New Form Of Networking

Seventy percent of Americans belong to one association. Twenty five percent

belong to four or more associations. Our professional existence is held

together by the network of people with whom we share common interests, even

common goals. As technology gives us new ways to link up, communicate and

share ideas, our need to identify with a collective presence reflects our

need to become more significant. Today, this need is being fulfilled by

privately organized, managed and funded trade associations.



If there ise anything that drives any venture to succeed, the principal

motivation is profit - the commercial purpose for which any trade activity

exists. Because we still maintain a mindset that associations should not

be a money-making venture, it is difficult to imagine a trade association

as a for-profit representative body of a particular trade.

However, as the efficiency, agility and productiveness of for-profit trade

associations become evident, members become more confident that operating

a for-profit trade assaociation is the only way to guarantee that the

association will remain productive and beneficial to its members.



Unless your primary reason for creating a trade association is to lobby

issues in Washington, your association's principal objective should more

or less focus on information sharing.

If you are creating a trade association as a forum for its memgbers to

share ideas about their trade, it is essential that you provide your

members this vehicle by which they can communicate, maybe even interact.



Since most associations get started with low membership dues, usually

in the $20 to $30 bracket. Many associations are lucky to break even on

membership dues alone. To guarantee its healthy existence, its financial

foundations should expand beyond being exclusively dependent on membership


Although most trade associations start off with a newsletter, it is in an

edeal position to organize conventions (that provide members a forum to

network, meet suppliers, and hear experts) which can be a prime money-maker

for the association.