28 May 2013 So Why do Associations Matter Anyways?
As this is the inaugural blog post for our company – let’s start with the basics. What is it about these associations – what do they do, why are they needed, why do they matter.
People join associations for a variety of reasons: their boss tells them to, they are networking for a new job, they feel like they want to talk to someone, anyone about what it is they do (out of excitement or the idea that misery loves company – depending on the day), they need the credits to hold a designation, or the subject matter interests them. Regardless of the reason, they decided to show up – not to read about it, not to Google it, but to figure it out with others in person: learning, asking, sharing, and meeting. Some will come to a meeting here and there, pick up some information and that will be the extent of it. Others on the opposite side of the spectrum will somehow find themselves so entrenched in their association that it becomes a major part of their life.
Hang around enough association members at enough meetings, something I do often, and you will find all kinds of interesting things. You might find yourself introducing people who have known each other for years, you will see people getting excited that for the first time in a day, week or month or longer that someone understands what their work day is like – because theirs is like that too. And you will hear stories – stories of things that happened many years ago at previous conferences and with people who might still be in the room or retired from the industry a long time ago. The cities are often blurry – was it Los Angeles in ’94? or Orlando in ’04, but there are memories, stories, and legends in every field.
People come together, not because of blood relations, not because of school ties, or neighborhoods (often they live time zones apart), and not because of their kids. They are linked by their chosen profession, often by design, often by accident, and that has led them to a collection of people that know what their day is like. Friends, family members, wives, husbands, partners – all hear and provide support about the ins and outs of one’s job and career but it is the people one meets at these association meetings that often get “it”. Not just abstract idea of their job, but the daily successes, failures, challenges, the highs, the lows, the absurd, the normal. We often hear the expression about “to truly understand someone, walk in another man’s shoes”. For these association members, they are doing that every time they come to an association meeting – all while keeping their laces tied.
And that might be the best reason associations matter.