Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 12 Pillars of Integrated Visibility - Number Three: "Industry Participation"

I have been writing about all "12 Pillars of Integrated Visibility" recently. The skills involved to create success in each area are rarely present within a single individual, and this is why so many companies fail to achieve the success they desire. There must be company-wide involvement to make it all come together.

All industries have professional organizations designed to promote and advance the efforts of the companies and individuals who work in their line of work. These associations provide information, legal and governmental lobbying, education, codes of ethics and professional standards, and amazing networking opportunities.

I am often surprised when people tell me that they do not participate in their professional associations. Many claim that they do not support these organizations because they are full of "amateurs" or other hacks. Interestingly, they can always point out successful and admirable competitors who support the group, but they are fast to dismiss the value that might exist.

Others claim they do not participate because it is a waste of time to network with the competition. They fail to understand the importance of being connected with others in their industry. It is not only about the competitors, but also about the vendors and other companies who are connected to an industry. You never know when you might encounter someone who could easily make referrals or become your next employer or employee.

Excuses are usually heavily rationalized, but when you look closer those who pooh-pooh industry participation you often find people who are self-focused or networking misfits in all areas, not just in making connections with those in their same industry.

Those who support their industries are usually more successful when it comes to creating a strong sense of visibility in their business community, and thus have the right mix of actions to build higher sales over the long run. This does not mean that all in the association will rise to the top levels of success or that reap the benefits one must become overly committed to the organization.

Involvement does not require a ton of time, but it is more than just sending a check and getting a plaque for your wall. You should outwardly support the cause and honor those who do choose to serve the industry. Know the names of the people on the board, and attend in-person or online events with an open mind and an ear for new ideas.

People with a natural sense of promoting their profession see benefits that go beyond their business. When you have a deep love for the business they work in, and want to see the vocation (and those who work in it) be more successful and respected, others will see your passion. People want to be around those with a passion, and you will find your circle of influence may expand in all areas.

Customers view membership in a professional organization as a commitment to your business. While it may not be the deciding factor, it is considered a sign of dedication. Many might feel more comfortable with doctor who openly honors the standards of professionalism that the American Medical Association promotes, or a lawyer who supports their State Bar. If either of these professionals mocked the other members as "amateurs" or "wannabes", you might get nervous about working with them. But in other industries people do not seem to understand the importance of cherishing their profession.

I recommend that you explore participation in your industry professional organization, or revisit the organization, talk to the administration, and join. Participate and seek ways to utilize your membership to help promote your professional reputation.

My experience in the National Speakers Association has been invaluable. I have had the opportunity to be mentored by those who have been in the business longer, and to mentor newcomers. By being active it has provided me with anecdotes about the changing face of the Speaking Industry and talking points to discuss with meeting planner clients and prospects. One meeting planner told me recently that when she hires speakers who are "not celebrities" she prefers NSA members.

The friendships I have made through being involved with NSA have lead me to new ideas and best-practices to expand my own business. Additionally, the introductions and referrals that have come from other speakers are impacting my bottom line.

Invest in creating and cultivating long-term and mutually beneficial relationships within your industry and it can forever improve your success.

Have A Great Day.

thom singer

No comments: