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To associate or not to associate

04 December 2012

I joined my industry body 10 years ago and when I opened my own agency five years ago, I went for a board position and was successful in obtaining one.

For me it was about the connections and the difference I could make. I saw things that we could potentially do with our industry and instead of sitting on the sidelines and whinging about it, I decided to do something about it.

I went from a large to a small agency, so it was important that I still had access to information, events and the people. It also gave my new agency credibility, a charter and code of ethics I could adhere to, as well as someone to represent the industry I love and, when needed, to fight the big issues.

Being that involved is not for everyone, but it’s worth looking at what these bodies and associations can offer you. Most have awards and events, seminars and education opportunities, generally at discounts for their members.

Take the awards; it’s a chance to be rewarded for best practice. Being a finalist can give you an opportunity to showcase this work to prospective new, and existing clients and gain PR for your business. I recently entered one of my staff members into the APMA’s Star Awards, Young Achiever of the Year. I want her to gain recognition, not just from our agency but also from the broader marketplace as well as her clients and peers.

When weighing up which association to join, it can be hard to decide as there are often a number of relevant associations and industry bodies worth joining. Perhaps you are a small agency and think these associations are not relevant for your business; you wonder what value your business (big or small) can gain from being a member.

If you are thinking about joining, look around; compare the offerings and relevance to your business. Think outside the norm and, along with the usual suspects, look to join an association that can give you access to complementary information and a broader knowledge base.

Call them! Ask what they can do for you, how you can make the most out of the membership, and as many of them have differing levels of membership, what is the right one for you and your business. In most cases, you will find a committee member responsible for new members who will be more than happy to talk to you.

Look at some of the training and education courses offered. In many cases you don’t need to be a member to attend (you may pay a higher non-member fee) but it will certainly give you a taste of what the body has to offer and if it is relevant to you.

Board positions are not for everyone, however, keeping up to date and relevant is, and I believe that being a member of a forward-thinking association is an important part of running a business.
Alicia Beachley is the CEO of April5. She can be contacted via email on