I'm a big fan of industry associations for many reasons. When I started my seed industry career in a small rural office, I quickly found myself seeking external resources to better learn and understand the national and international factors affecting my role. My first step was attending an association meeting.
Attending this meeting was a game changer. I learned an incredible amount of new information on topics I had no idea were part of the seed industry. I was able to meet several individuals who have since become friends, mentors, advisors, and even sounding boards for ideas and issues. Most importantly, attending this meeting provided me the resources I needed to become better at my job. These resources came in the form of industry affiliated organizations and people who could provide information or answers when I was stuck.
"Joining an association shows you are committed to learning and growing within your industry"
Here are my Top Ten Reasons for joining an association.
Invest in Yourself - Associations are a key place to provide ongoing training and education. It’s the ideal place to develop, refine, and expand your skills and knowledge on specific topics relating to your job. Considering being part of, or leading, a committee to gain leadership experience.
Grow Your Business - Aside from annual conferences, associations offer educational opportunities such as workshops, webinars, and industry-specific training. Take advantage of these tools available to boost your business. Additionally use this opportunity to showcase your expertise and boost referrals.
Expand Your Network - Associations are the place where creative minds share ideas, learn new perspectives, and discover experiences together. Using each other’s unique skills leads to new innovations. There isn’t a more intentional place for this to happen than within an industry association. The people you will network with are, like you, committed to improving the industry.
Access to Resources - Many seed industry staff work in rural areas or are "stuck" in an office where internal resources can quickly be tapped out. This can limit learning new ideas and staying informed on best practice standards. Associations are the best source of information, expertise, and access to specific skill sets. Because associations represent a large membership, they can open doors individuals cannot.
Find or Be a Mentor - It doesn't matter if you're just starting out or further into the journey, associations have members at every stage in their career. Some of these individuals can provide you with assistance in your job or they could benefit from your experience and expertise. Ultimately as a mentee or mentor you build your network and share ideas.
Stay on top of issues and trends - Without change you and your business become stagnant. Joining and being involved in an association helps you to stay on top of current information and emerging trends. Sign up for a committee mailing list or a newsletter to ensure you receive the latest industry updates and regulatory changes which affect your company or your job.
Find New Opportunities - Associations often have member only events which incorporate some of the best and most current opportunities. Tap into these resources to boost relationships, join a committee working group or be involved in a collaborative project. When you become involved, you'll be on the list to contact when new ideas or further opportunities become available.
Grow Your Team - Associations are a great place to connect with others who share your interests but also a great place to connect with amazing new talent. If they are committed to an association, they are committed to personal growth and the industry as a whole.
Advocate for Your Industry - There are many issues impacting our industry from local laws to global misinformation. Associations often educate consumers, regulators, and other industry leaders on key issues in our industry. It’s important to share your industry's message before someone else does negatively. Start by meeting with your legislative representative or as simple as having a positive conversation with friends and community members.
Make a Difference - If you're not at the table someone else is in your seat. Being an active voice for your industry can result in substantial and impactful change. As an association member, you can make a difference in how your industry impacts your community and the world around you.
I can’t think of a better way to connect and collaborate with others than to join an industry association. When you are active you will have countless opportunities to be engaged in leadership, innovation, stewardship and many others. Bottom line, you get out of it what you put into it, the door is wide open.
For industry associations suggestions contact AgCultured Consulting.