October 14th, 2009
Professional associations are a critical component in the US business ecology. The ASAE Center for Association Leadership reports that:
Historically Professional Associations have proactively advanced the interest of professionals while establishing codes of governance that protect the public interest as well as the respective practice. Professional Associations have contributed significantly to ongoing research by harnessing the insights of members, forecasting industry trends, improving the quality of standards and practices, advocating knowledge sharing, and creating access to education locally and globally. Professional Associations establish ethical guidelines, resolve practice issues as they arise, provide mentors and provoke thought leadership. What’s more interesting and relevant is that Professional Associations act as the primary source for ongoing professional development beyond college in the US. (95% of Professional Associations support on-going education opportunities, certificate trainings, internships and mentorships).
Critical Challenge: Not all Professional Associations are created equal.
Guilty by association? Professional Associations appear to make the same promises, offer like perks in the same stuffy style on copycat websites. Professional Associations compete for limited members with limited time…and yet few organizations stand for a distinctive purpose or stand apart with a compelling perspective that connects with members and distinguishes one organization above another. Few Professional Associations have revealed the “big idea” that expresses the association’s reason for existence; the relevance, history, purpose, passion, integrity, advocacy, significance, social capital and successes in a compelling and meaningful brand story. Professional Associations that don’t want to be confused for ordinary must explicitly define or re-define their relevance, breaking from the herd to be heard.
Authentic and relevant Professional Association brands are memorable; they are differentiated by thought leadership, synergy, credibility, ingenuity, diversity, style, philosophy, design, sustainability… when the list of distinctions is endless, the membership is boundless!