Associations in the construction industry provide their members with industry news, professional development, networking opportunities, and government advocacy. Building material supply companies can benefit from these memberships if there is a fit between the association’s requirements and the supplier’s ability to meet those requirements.
When assessing an association to see if it is a fit for your material supply company, there are several things to look for: the organization’s purpose, audience, reputation, and expected investment. This article will provide the information you need to assess whether membership in an association is a good fit for your company.
There are a wide variety of building and construction associations. Some appeal to general interests, while others are specifically for certain trades or work positions. Here are some examples of organizations you may consider joining:
- Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is for merit shop companies and helps them develop their people and win work.
- Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is for contractors and other industry-related companies, and provides advocacy, education, and research.
- American Concrete Institute (ACI) is for individuals and organizations involved in concrete design, construction, and materials, and provides standards, technical resources, and education for its members.
- Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) serves firms involved in heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, plumbing, piping and mechanical services, and provides education and programs to help members increase their technical expertise.
Most of these organizations and others like them require a financial investment and an investment of time. They may ask members to serve on professional panels or workgroups or attend conferences and local meetings.
Is joining one of these organizations worth it? Here’s how to decide:
1. Do your research
Before you join an organization, it pays to do some research to determine if their goals match your goals. Look for the following information:
Who is the association for? Is it only people in the industry, in related fields, or anyone?
What is the purpose of the association? Possibilities include lobbying, networking, education, advancing the profession, etc.
How long has the association been around, and what is its reputation?
What is expected of members? Associations may ask members to pay annual dues, attend events, purchase merchandise, subscriptions, classes, or ads, serve on committees, or other volunteer positions. Know what the financial and time investment will cost you.
2. Examine your motives for joining
Think about why you want to join the association and what goals you hope to achieve. Examples include:
- Build credentials
- Discounts on products or services
- Sales opportunities
- Latest industry news and information
- Meet new people
- Share business practices
3. Understand the requirements
Based on your goals for the membership and the required time and financial investment, assess whether you can meet the commitments required to reach those goals. Look at both time and financial costs in comparison with expected returns. If you can’t meet the expected commitments, then the organization may not be a good fit. You may want to search for other organizations or reassess your ability to commit.
4. Assess your fit
How do your reasons for joining the association line up with what the organization offers and expects? For example, if you want to meet new people and can invest 10 hours a month, and the association requires committee service that is estimated at 5 hours per month, it may be a good fit. On the other hand, if you want access to this group because they are your target clients, and the association has a “no sales pitch” rule, it may not be the best one for you.
5. Define “success”
Once you decide that the association is a good fit for your needs and goals, define what membership success looks like for you. Develop tangible goals that will show that you’re achieving what you set out to. This can be anything from being able to display the association’s logo on your website to making 4 new connections a month.
6. Consider a trial membership
If you’re willing to make the financial and time investment required, and your goals align with the association, try joining for a year. If at the end of the year you haven’t achieved the successes you outlined above, this may not be the right association for you.
Associations can be great resources for growing your business. Membership may not necessarily directly grow sales or your customer base, but it can offer industry knowledge, continuing education, and information sharing between colleagues.
However, associations can require a time commitment that can have a higher monetary value than mere annual dues. If the association you’re considering expects members to work on committees, mentor others, or plan, host, or attend events and other conferences, take this time into account when calculating the membership cost.
Being honest about your time and the investment you’re able to make will save you the frustration that comes from a bad match. There are many associations to choose from. Focus on finding one that fits your needs while not overextending you or your employees.