Recently, while providing an up-and-coming Virtual Assistant (VA) and small business owner with some start-up information, she asked me a very interesting question, "Why do you and other VA's join organizations?"
I guess I take for granted the reasons why I belong to several industry specific organizations. But, to those that are new to any industry, joining an organization made up of your competitors is a valid concern.
Some organizations have members that are from a variety of walks of life (i.e. small business organizations, etc.) while others are more specified and include only members from a specific industry (i.e. VA organizations).
I think the consensus among members of any organization is that the benefits of being involved with others in your industry are numerous.
So, why should you join industry specific organizations? Here are some of the best reasons:
1. Networking. This is one of the main reasons for joining any organization and is actually part in parcel with all the other reasons I will list here.
Networking with anyone and everyone is essential to the growth of any business, especially networking with those in your industry.
Some industries are still fairly young and by networking with your peers you can all work together to increase the exposure of your specific industry, thus increasing the visibility of each individual member's businesses.
2. The opportunity to work with fellow members. With the increased exposure of various industries, many veteran members may be finding their workloads are getting to a point where they have to outsource some of their projects. If they don't know about you they won't even have the chance to consider sending you some of their overflow.
Not to mention, most members may specialize in certain procedures and, should a task come up for a client that is not one of their specialties, they may need to subcontract the project.
3. Learning from your fellow members. No matter if you are an experienced business professional or new to the industry, there is always something to learn from others.
Veteran members have been there and done that so they have the voice of experience to offer. Those new to the industry can sometimes be an excellent source of new & fresh ideas.
4. You have the chance to get involved in new ventures. Many veteran members collaborate to initiate new ventures and projects to help enhance their industry. Usually, during the start-up phase of these new ventures, it is common to work with those that you know and respect and have them involved in the process. By being a member of an organization and staying involved, you become visible to your fellow members and thus may be requested to become involved in the newest industry-boosting project
5. And finally, one of the perks of joining an organization is the joy of making new friends.
Many small business owners operate their businesses from home and isolation can become an issue. Being a member of any organization results in making friends with fellow members, reducing the isolation aspect. These friendships can also result in a mentor type relationship where the two (or more) of you share ideas that will help to boost each other's businesses and even your personal lives. (Such is the case of myself and my best friend Kathy Ritchie of Ritchie Secretarial Service ? www.thebestva.com - a fellow Virtual Assistant)
To sum it all up, being a member of an industry specific organization has many benefits and shouldn't be viewed as associating with the enemy. Try to think of your relationship with your fellow industry members as 'coopetition' rather than 'competition'. By working together you can build the industry as a whole, your own individual businesses, and even your personal lives.
About The Author
Janice Byer is a certified Master Virtual Assistant and owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services (http://www.docutype.net). See this and other articles on her website.