Associations and Your Business: Six Questions To Ask When Joining

By Andrew J. Birol, President, Birol Growth Consulting, Inc.

Since the beginning of time businesses have formed groups to help them grow and profit. And business and trade associations have matured into efficient organizations providing tools, knowledge and real value. But today, businesses already have more information than time. And many associations are feeling a real pinch in membership. So when and why should a business use an association?

Associations can serve four purposes. They:

  • Provide critical knowledge
  • Offer group buying and savings
  • Enable networking with peers and prospects
  • Serve as advocates on industry issues

For the small to mid-sized business there is a constant opportunity to join, go and contribute to a number of associations. Here are six questions to ask when making the decision.

  1. Does the association really meet your needs? Is your business customer-poor, talent-hungry or cash-strapped? Will the association really assist with your core challenges? Which of the associations programs will you implement?
  2. What is the real value of the membership discounts and programs? What does your company need to buy? Does the association provide what you need? At what real cost do the discounts come?
  3. Do the association’s education and training programs meet your business’ needs? Will your staff attend the courses? Will the association’s approach to training work for your people?
  4. Are the networking opportunities the right ones for your company? Will you meet prospects, vendors or competitors? Will the right people in your organization commit to networking? What is the real value of saying you belong to the association in terms of customers, vendors and peers?
  5. Will the collective voice of your peers help you to succeed? Does your business need to be heard as one of many voices? What is the message that you need to get out? Is the association positioned to give you the platform you need?
  6. Does the association measure its success in your company’s terms? What is the connection between the association’s mission and your company’s goals? How does the organization obtain and spend its funding?

There are literally thousands of associations your company can join. Joining the right organizations for the right reasons and staying involved is great. But remember one last point. If you join the right groups, your company’s commitment in time and energy will exceed the financial cost of belonging. Choose carefully and commit fully. It is in your company’s best interests!

Articles by Birol Growth Consulting are © copyrighted and all rights are reserved. However, articles may be reprinted with prior written consent if attribution is included as follows:

© Copyrighted by Andrew J. Birol, President of Birol Growth Consulting, who helps owners grow their businesses by growing their Best and Highest Use ®. Andy can be reached at (412) 973-2080, by email at, or on the web at

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