Joining Trade Associations

Discover how being a joiner can benefit your business.

No matter the size of your business, it never hurts to talk with others in your line of work. Joining trade and professional associations is a great way to do just that. Whether it's for local chapter meetings or an annual international conference, the possibilities are nearly limitless in terms of levels of participation and benefits.

The benefits of joining a trade association include:

  1. Networking – attending meetings or using online bulletin boards allows ample chances to meet others in your line of work.
  2. Continuing education - conferences, publications, and presentations offered by associations.
  3. Leadership opportunities - boards, committees, or research groups within an association.
  4. Professional discounts – on goods and services offered by affiliates or programs presented by the association.

Find a list of associations for your industry

No matter how esoteric, chances are there's a trade organization for your profession. An Internet search for "trade association" or "professional organization" plus your industry or profession should yield what you need.

Choose the best group for your interests

There may be dozens of local, national, and international organizations geared toward your industry. Often simply talking with colleagues will clue you in on the better ones to join, or sometimes a little digging is needed to find the right fit.

Find the best benefits

Different associations provide differing levels of member benefits, with everything from member discounts with select vendors to monthly newsletters to online discussion forums for virtual networking. It's up to you to weigh the cost of joining against the benefits.
  • Be sure to get your company listed in the association's directory for potential networking opportunities.
  • Check to see whether your prospective group(s) offer trial memberships so you can try before buying.
  • Many small-business associations offer great discounts to members on business-related items such as postage and office supplies.
  • Even international associations often have local chapters, so don't rule those out when searching for the best organization.
  • Cast a wider net for groups that support your business indirectly like the National Association for the Self Employed or a group geared toward salespeople in general even though you work in the computer industry.