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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.