February 1, 2003
To Join Or Not To Join
Q: I know that networking is essential to getting my company’s name and services to the public. How do you determine which associations are worth joining?
–Z. Cakes, Via the Internet
A: As you already know, networking is one of the main reasons for joining any organization. Ideally, you want to join an organization that has members you can learn from, form partnerships with, and pursue new business with. But that only works if the organization’s membership is up to par. I’d advise taking the following steps to help determine the group’s effectiveness:
- If the organization claims that joining its ranks will boost sales, ask them to prove it. Request a list of existing members and contact them, asking what the members think of the group and how joining the organization has helped their businesses.
- Most business associations offer a membership package. Review it and look for testimonials. Read the bios of those in charge to determine if they have the proper experience and leadership skills to help further your business.
- If the organization has a local branch, visit it and meet with the people there.
- If they host conferences, ask about attendance. Contact members and ask if going to the conference resulted in networking opportunities.
- Finally, contact the Better Business Bureau to find out whether any complaints have been filed against the organization. To contact the nearest Better Business Bureau, go to www.bbb.org/ bbblookup.
Like any business decision, joining an organization requires homework to help you determine if the membership fees are worth the investment.