In these uncertain times, adopting a united front can be a powerful way to overcome challenges. We only have to look at the political, social, and economic turmoil of the last decade to observe how making big decisions in a fractured fashion has negative long-term consequences.
Understandably, the current news landscape has made UK business – from major corporations to small startups – apprehensive. But a union of hearts and minds can offer firms a degree of strength and stability, as well as a reassuring bedrock of support and security. It’s the secret of association.
Associations, either for business or leisure, are nothing new. Two examples that readers may well be familiar with are the Confederation of Business Industry and the Institute of Directors. In fact, I’m sure a significant number of those reading this column will be members of an association.
But for those who are not, let me take the opportunity to outline a few of the key benefits that it has to offer.
For smaller companies, the ability to launch and manage largescale, integrated communications campaigns is beyond their financial reach. However, most associations have robust, established promotional channels, including printed magazines, direct emails, newsletters, and PR support.
When weighed against annual membership fees, the benefits become clear, offering an opportunity for members to participate in external communications activities which would normally cost thousands of pounds when pursued individually.
Many associations offer educational programmes which help upskill and empower members. These range from business best practice, sometimes linked to the Continuing Professional Development certification service, through to soft skills.
For example, we recently teamed up with business coach Laura Capell-Abra from Stress Matters to launch an accredited mental health first aider training course, tackling the issue of workplace wellbeing and how managers can create channels for juniors to communicate personal problems, openly and discretely. Often, these multi-member courses offer invaluable training at a very reasonable rate.
Networking is an important part of an association’s services. Organisations also offer a number of informal social gatherings throughout the year.
Importantly, they allow like-minded professionals, with a shared experience, to meet, greet, and establish lasting relationships. I’ve been involved in Unique Venues of London for 18 years, and have seen many firm friendships grow out of attending our events and receptions.
All too often, I think the fun aspect of membership is played down, when we should actually be celebrating it as a major reason to join an association.
Associations possess the advantage of being able to speak in unison on behalf of the membership. This is an essential and advantageous function when – like now – a collective voice is required.
This might be to feed into an industry white paper or to react against an impactful government policy.
It’s a case of strength in numbers: decision-makers are often more likely to listen to the spokesperson of a wide held view, rather than a series of soloists singing the same sentiment in a disjointed fashion.
When we work together, we are stronger. The association model offers advantages which go far beyond the membership fees.
So don’t be left out: consort, coalesce, and cooperate. It will improve the way you and your colleagues do business.
Main image credit: Getty