If you are looking to take your business to a new level, whether you’re new or have years of experience, joining an industry association could be just the game-changer you’ve be looking for. Association memberships grant access to power networking, collaborative relationships and leadership opportunities, all of the tools that can put a great business on the fast track to even bigger things!
Professional associations have a lot to offer. Many local chapters offer regular get-togethers where you can meet like-minded individuals, share ideas, swap stories and exchange thoughts. Some organizations pair these meetings with educational opportunities, prestigious speakers and exposure to new concepts to provide additional support for member businesses.
Some organizations also have national chapters, broadening the available networking opportunities substantially. There are often annual conferences for members and even the ability to attend meetings of other chapters.
Which Association is Best for You?
The events industry has several major associations, all of which support our professionals, and each with a different set of strengths and benefits. Some of the major organizations include:
The Wedding International Professionals Association (WIPA) was formed to provide an opportunity for networking and continued education. There are nine chapters around the country and the option of joining “at-large.” The organization offers meetings, mentoring programs, up-to-date information and news for a tight-knit community of professionals.
The International Live Events Association (ILEA) is an international association with 51
chapters worldwide. Membership is offered to creative event professionals and offers access to invaluable resources, a career center, exclusive events and the ability to compete for coveted awards.
The National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) has 40 chapters across the nation and hosts numerous events throughout the year to increase education in the industry and give members a platform to showcase their work to peers. Local chapters offer leadership opportunities as well as regular networking gatherings. The annual NACE Experience conference is one of the industry’s most heralded events and considered a can’t-miss by many.
Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the largest meeting and event industry association in the world, focuses on high-level education and business practices. The organization’s 90 chapters are located across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Members can access a network of peers and many educational opportunities.
You’ll also want to be mindful of locally grown organizations- and remember, you can always take matters into your own hands and create your own opportunities. I founded Tri-Valley Wedding Professionals years ago to fill a need in our community and we’re now hundreds of members strong.
No matter which industry association you choose, an investment will be necessary to become a member. This investment is only worth it if you plan to actively participate by attending meetings, offering your services and seeking leadership roles. There is next to no benefit if you simply pay your dues and never show up. Associations are communities that rely on every member to help make them great.
In addition to those listed above, the events industry has many niche associations, like ADJA for DJs or WPJA for photographers, that offer numerous benefits to members. We recommend doing a bit of research on the associations related to your niche, choosing at least one that appeals to you and fits your business goals, and joining today!
Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and a past national president for WIPA.