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Natural Networking Making Friends Builds Business

As high school students, most of us were encouraged to join a variety of extracurricular activities to build our resumes and make us more well-rounded people.As high school students, most of us were encouraged to join a variety of extracurricular activities to build our resumes and make us more well-rounded people. As adults and business owners, joining an association, as well as attending conferences and trade shows, can have some of these same advantages, but they can also help grow your business. More so than ever before, associations, organizations, conferences and trade shows can serve as a conduit for greater opportunities.

Networking advantages
Arguably the top reason for any involvement in these areas is the networking opportunities afforded to you. Meetings are a great occasion for speaking with others in the decorative concrete industry. Other members may have implemented a new technology or found a way to solve a problem that has been plaguing your company for years. The friendly camaraderie allows everyone to speak openly and candidly about their business.

Further, meetings provide you with the chance to learn what others are doing around the country, which is a valuable asset for staying on top of industry trends. Also, trade shows, such as the Concrete Decor Show or World of Concrete, offer you the opportunity to learn about the latest products. And, the relationships fostered at these events can last long after you return home. They may even provide you with a colleague that acts as a sounding board throughout the year.

Industry organizations are also a great medium for getting the word out about your company’s products and services. Most associations have printed newsletters that feature member profiles or project spotlights. Typically, these newsletters are distributed to members, but also to anyone interested in learning more about the industry. Further, they can be distributed at trade shows. Alternatively, an electronic edition of the newsletter may also exist as a second forum for information. All of this publicity positions you as an expert in your respective field.

Another method for garnering attention in a newsletter is through advertising. Associations generally offer members a discounted advertising rate, and you are ensured that you are reaching a targeted audience. Trade shows also often offer free products listings or discounts to advertise in their show publication if a booth is purchased.

Community involvement
Join local organizations such as the chamber of commerce, home builders association, remodelers’ council, Jaycees and Rotary clubs. These may not be concrete-specific organizations, but you will find yourself involved with other business owners facing a similar desire to network and grow. Some of these owners may need your products or services. Is your facility large enough to host a reception or monthly meeting for a local organization? It would be an excellent opportunity to make your company’s name and services memorable.

Local organizations
Getting involved is critical to receiving the value of an association or organization. It is almost always a prerequisite to submit to an association’s award program. While winning the award is the obvious goal, just submitting can also help your company. Association award submittals often provide fodder for public relations efforts throughout the year.

Unique attributes of a project may qualify your award for inclusion in an article that will appear in a leading trade publication. Winning an award from an association is additional fuel to promote your company. Local media may take interest in your project, which would only further position you as an industry leader in your community.

By representing your association when speaking in front of your local ready-mix association, you are utilizing an untapped outlet for growing your business. However, opportunities do not end there. The chance to present in front of a local school board about the benefits of decorative concrete for educational facilities could mean a steady stream of new business.

Also, associations and organizations need speakers for their own events and conferences. By being an active member, you are more likely to be considered for presentation opportunities. Additionally, serving on committees positions you for a leadership position within the organization as a board member. This provides you with an opportunity to make decisions that influence both the association and industry.

Multiply membership benefits
Referrals are also a common benefit of association and organization membership. If someone in your area needs a decorative concrete expert and calls a member of an association to which you belong, you may be referred for a job. The value of this is immeasurable, because the potential customer has already pre-qualified the association or organization as a place to seek an expert opinion. Its member’s recommendation of your company is an incredible asset to your business.

Further, many associations and organizations include a listing of members on their website and may even provide a link to your company’s site. Free magazine subscriptions are also common, which can help keep you abreast of the latest industry trends. Association members frequently attend trade shows, which help increase awareness about your industry. Your organization may also receive a discounted admission rate for members who attend the event.

Joining both industry associations and community organizations is much more than simply something to add to your company website or include in proposals. Active membership affords you a host of opportunities to grow both personally and professionally.

Similar to your high school activities, it is up to you to make the most out of your memberships. Investigate the offerings afforded to you through the memberships you may already have and determine what you may not be utilizing. These associations and community organizations exist to advance your business and, in turn, your industry as a whole. Partner with them to meet your common goals and educate the marketplace about decorative concrete.

After more than 20 years as an editor for a major construction industry publisher, Kari is seasoned in writing and editing on technical topics, particularly the construction industry and the concrete segment. She is the architecture, engineering and construction senior editorial director and can be reached at wkmoosmann@constructivecommunication.com.

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