AIA, AGC, ABC, ACEC, USGBC, SMACNA, and the list goes on. These are just some of the many industry and trade associations available to building design and engineering professionals. Within each industry, these associations play a large role in shaping best practices, offering education and support, and providing political clout. However, many professionals do not consider association membership a top priority, a misconception that can cause them to miss out on numerous benefits.
Whether you’re new to the field or a veteran, associations are a great way to meet others who work and influence your industry. Association mixers, events, and seminars provide opportunities to network and establish new partnerships or deepen existing business relationships. In addition, while associations are a great venue for seeking ideas and inspiration, they’re also a platform for sharing your expertise. As you become more involved in the associations, you can participate on a committee or task force, or even speak at an event.
Along with the human resources available, many associations have member-exclusive online resources, such as a message forum, job board, free publications, or career center. In some cases, members also benefit financially with discounts from local businesses and partners, and special rates for association-related events. For example, the BIM Workshops is a long-time partner of the AIA, and often offers AIA members exclusive registration discounts and several Workshops sessions also qualify for AIA continuing education credits.
Finally, one of the most important benefits of an industry association is the powerful collective voice it offers to its members on issues of government regulation and policy. Often, individual companies and professionals lack the political influence and resource necessary to track federal and state legislative developments, but an industry association can wield significant political clout.
Joining an industry association should be considered an investment in your career and your company’s growth. For the individual professional, memberships are relatively cost-effective, and the benefits you receive can often outweigh the financial costs. If industry associations are something you deem appropriate for yourself or your company, remember to carefully evaluate your options and select an association that aligns with your goals and objectives.
What are some of the industry and trade associations you belong to? Which would you recommend to your peers? Share your thoughts in the comments!