Association Involvement Can Increase Visibility
Viewing the growing pile of papers on your desk and reading the hundreds of e-mails that flood your in-box each day can often make it seem impossible to remove yourself from the office setting. However, getting involved with associations will not only enhance your visibility, your business image and sales, it can also give you a mood boost, resulting in renewed energy that you can bring back to the office.
While you may already be a member of your own professional association, you should be aware that there are literally thousands of associations and organizations across the country; and many good ones right in your own back yard, the trick is finding the ones that are right for you and for your business.
While you could purchase the Encyclopedia of Associations on Amazon, you can also just resort to Google and find a list of groups in your area. Another resource worth considering however is www.MarketingSource.com where you can purchase an entire directory (a portion of the Directory of Associations) or select specific areas, for example you can choose New York State which has 1,834 listings at a cost of $225. Many national organizations have local chapters and the Encyclopedia will indicate the location of local chapters, as well as dates of annual conferences and the types of publications each association produces.
Associations afford many opportunities for increasing visibility. Here are a few:
Attend Meetings: Although this sounds too simple to even mention, you would be surprised at how many people join an organization, get their name in the directory, and think business is going to come their way. It is only after you attend meetings and get to know other members that they look you up in the membership directory when they need your product or services. Make it a goal to regularly attend meetings to increase familiarity with you and your business.
Advertise in Association Publications: Advertise in group publications regularly or on the association's website. There are usually a few choices including newsletters, bulletins, directories and annual or dinner journals as well as various banner ad sizes and positions. The ads tend to be inexpensive compared to other advertising vehicles and you may be able to take a larger ad than you could in the local business newspaper. You will reach a small targeted audience that will appreciate your support of the organization.
Write and Submit Articles: Often associations are hungry for well written articles or blog posts that enlighten their readers on a particular topic such as a new law or regulation, an event recently in the news, or even seasonal tips and advice.
Speak for the Group: Associations often invite their own members to participate in programming such as speaking on a particular topic, hosting a roundtable discussion or joining a panel discussion. Let your associations know about your expertise and the topics you could discuss.
Spotlight or Participate in a Trade Show: Associations can offer opportunities to spotlight your business at a regular meeting or at an annual trade show. Hosting a table and displaying your products or literature is a great way to meet members and introduce them to your products or services. Also, consider speaking at a trade show or supplying a gift to be used as a giveaway.
Join a Committee or Board: One of the best ways to increase your visibility (and learn a thing or two) is to join a committee or association board. If you don't have a lot of time to spare, a committee can be a good way to start; board positions often require a larger time commitment but are an excellent way to meet people. This is a terrific source of visibility and one that is often overlooked because of the time commitment. However, contacts made through committee positions can often prove invaluable.
If there are several organizations that you feel would be valuable for your business, you don't have to join them all yourself. Assign different people in the organization to different associations and request that they provide you with feedback on the group and its activities. Remember, don't judge a group too quickly; give your membership time to have an impact on your business.
Finally, meeting new people, making new connections and getting some fresh ideas, can really improve your motivation and give you positive energy to pass along to others in your office.
Risa Hoag founded GMG Public Relations, Inc. in 1991. She is a past president of the Westchester Association of Women Business Owners and before starting GMG was the Director of Public Relations with Ernst & Young in White Plains. She has presented numerous workshops and seminars on public relations You can reach her by visiting www.gmgpr.com, calling 845-627-3000 or sending an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.