The Power of Association Engagement

4 years ago my company (and I) was the best kept secret in the event world in Vancouver. This year we won the Supplier of the Year for Meeting Professionals International, BC Chapter. 

That’s an interesting journey, don’t you think? How did that happen in 4 years?

The answer is simple: Engagement in the community. Engagement meaning involvement. Engagement meaning active involvement. 

The key to ROI, the key to affecting others, and the key to involving yourself is engagement

Starting 4 years ago, I started attending association events. I chose MPI as the first association to focus on because it had the largest number of meeting professionals who didn’t already work with my company.

The best way to maximize your association membership is to become part of the leadership team, which is super easy, just volunteer for a portfolio that interests you or where you have some skills. I started at the bottom, volunteering for committees that needed only casual work. 

However, like almost everything in life, the more you put into things, the more you get out of them. So I quickly moved into more sustained committee positions and then about a year later I got “on the board.”

All of my volunteering efforts paid off with better relationships with existing clients, gaining new clients, and more exposure and recognition…but things turbocharged when I sat on the board. Suddenly, I was involved in discussions and events with a large range of other volunteers and these people over time became… friends! 

What happened to me is what happens to everyone. I developed working relationships with peers in the industry who often hire companies like mine. Those are good peers to be around! But then the magic happened, as it always happens, and working relationships turned into friends! How glorious!

So now my association volunteering has created relationships that propel my business and has also created relationships that fill my heart (friends). That’s a double whammy of ROI.

It doesn’t stop there, though. Not at all. 

Being engaged on the board means that your industry education accelerates. I was part of discussions, meetings, events that went far beyond what my company regularly focused on. I was getting hands on training. On the job training. Roll up your sleeves and dive in training. The best kind of training!

Studies show that learning accelerates when you get involved, when you become part of the learning process (as opposed to just having information thrown at you - a common challenge in the meetings industry!).

Suddenly my ability to connect with others in our industry blossomed. Because my vision, my perspective widened. I started to see parts of our industry in a very new light. Sometimes I finally understood parts of our industry that had eluded comprehension because now I was involved in those specific aspects or interacting with others in that area. 

Throughout the last 4 years, when I could, I made my association leadership a main focus and goal of my daily work. I stepped up whenever I could. I sponsored events (and consequently had the opportunity to showcase our talents to a very potent niche: meeting professionals - you know, the people who hire my company!).

The effort/reward ratio for me has been ridiculous. Huge benefits for my business. Huge benefits for me personally. Huge benefits for my psyche (e.g the difference between walking into a warm room vs. a cold one!) 

When I attend MPI (or ILEA or PCMA…) events, I now walk into a warm room where I am surrounded by friends, colleagues, and clients. Often these are the same person. Networking is a highly stressful activity for most people so imagine how much better it gets when you are surrounding yourself with colleagues and friends! 

So 4 years after I started engaging with industry associations, I can unequivocally state it has been a massive success. And that was before winning “Supplier of the Year!” I can’t wait to see what rolls out of that award over the coming years. I expect it will be significant. Both for my business and for me personally.

I hope that my journey will help you, help others, stand up and engage with your community. Improve your business. Improve your relationships. Improve your experiences. And make some amazing friends along the way. That’s a win-win-win-win-win-win-win...