Recently, while providing an up-and-coming Virtual Assistant and small business owner with some start-up information, she asked me a very interesting question: "Why do you and other Virtual Assistants join industry organizations?"
I guess I take for granted the reasons why I belong to several industry organizations. But to those that are new to any industry, joining an industry organization made up of your competitors is a valid concern.
Some organizations have members that are from a variety of walks of life (such as small business organizations, etc.) while others are more specified and include only members from a specific industry (such as Virtual Assistant organizations). The benefits of being involved with others in your industry are numerous.
So why should you join industry organizations? Here are some of the best reasons:
This is one of the main reasons for joining any organization and is actually part in parcel with all the other reasons I will list here.
Business networking with anyone and everyone is essential to the growth of any business, especially business networking with those in your industry. Some industries are still fairly young and by networking with your peers you can all work together to increase the exposure of your specific industry, thus increasing the visibility of each individual member's business.
2. The opportunity to work with fellow members.
With the increased exposure of various industries, many veteran industry organization members may be finding their workloads are getting to a point where they have to outsource some of their projects. If they don't know about you, they won't even have the chance to consider sending you some of their overflow. Not to mention, most members may specialize in certain procedures and, should a task come up for a client that is not one of their specialties, they may need to subcontract the project.
3. Learning from your fellow members.
No matter if you are an experienced business professional or new to the industry, there is always something to learn from others. Veteran industry organization members have been there and done that so they have the voice of experience to offer. Those new to the industry can sometimes be an excellent source of new, fresh ideas.
4. You have the chance to get involved in new ventures.
Many veteran industry organization members collaborate to initiate new ventures and projects to help enhance their industry. Usually, during the start-up phase of these new ventures, it is common to work with those that you know and respect and have them involved in the process. By being a member of an industry organization and staying involved, you become visible to your fellow members and thus may be requested to become involved in the newest industry-boosting project.
5. And finally, one of the perks of joining an industry organization is the joy of making new friends.
Many small business owners operate their businesses from home and isolation can become an issue. Being a member of any organization results in making friends with fellow members, reducing the isolation aspect. These friendships can also result in a mentor type relationship where the two (or more) of you share ideas that will help to boost each other's businesses and even your personal lives. (Such is the case of myself and my best friend Kathy Ritchie - a fellow Virtual Assistant).
Industry Organization Benefits Are Wide-Ranging
To sum it all up, being a member of an industry organization has many benefits and shouldn't be viewed as associating with the enemy. Try to think of your relationship with your fellow industry members as 'coopetition' rather than 'competition'. By working together you can build the industry as a whole, your own individual businesses, and even your personal lives.