Local business associations are long-standing pillars of most communities, but in the digital age, small businesses are increasingly focusing their marketing and networking efforts online rather than offline. If your glazing business isn't associated with a local business network, you could be missing out on valuable networking and referral opportunities, as well as access to discounts, resources and advocacy support.
Who you know matters
One of the primary benefits of joining a local business association are the close-to-home networking opportunities. Don't be put off joining an organization because your competitor/s are also members. You can't add your voice to the conversation if you're not part of it.
Networking is a great way to drum up more business through referrals — either officially through the association, or unofficially through other members you've connected and built relationships with. Consumers are far more likely to contact you if they've been referred to your services by someone they trust.
Remember, networking isn't just about drumming up new business! It's also an opportunity to meet potential employees or apprentices as well as suppliers and vendors.
Your reputation could also benefit from joining a local business association. Many organizations participate in local charitable efforts which is a great way to get your name out there and support a good cause. Not only are you networking, you're also boosting your own reputation at the same time.
Access to training, resources and discounts
Depending on the association you join, they may have also negotiated discounts for services like insurance, business loans, and group health care plans. Increased purchasing power gives you options that you might not otherwise have and you may find that whatever you need to fork out in membership fees, you make up in discounted rates. You may also receive discounted services from fellow members (which include local accounting firms, web or graphic designers, lawyers etc) and be expected to offer them in return.
Many associations have either an education program in place or at least regular seminars and speakers who attend meetings. It doesn't matter if you're the best glazier around, if you can't build a sustainable revenue stream then you'll find it difficult to stay in business. If you join an association, you may find yourself learning about specialty topics like HR or management that help you run your glazing business more efficiently and effectively.
Some associations offer accreditation programs that you or your team members can take advantage of. Offering your employees upskilling opportunities is a great way to make them feel valued and invested in the business.
Strength in numbers
Being part of a group gives you a numbers advantage, particularly when it comes to addressing business concerns at a local or state government level. Most organizations are neutral and have no particular party affiliation, but policy changes around taxation or licensing requirements for example would affect all business owners. Being part of a wider organization gives you more manpower when it comes to contacting legislators.
It also means that if you don't personally have the time or resources for advocacy, you can still lend your support to the association to advocate on your behalf.
Go forth and network!
Make 2020 your year to really get out there in your local community and meet other business owners face-to-face. We'd love to hear about your efforts, say hi @SmartBuilder!
What to read next
You can't go to networking events without a business card! Check out this article we wrote about getting your business cards noticed.
You can also filter all of our articles to just see articles about running a glazing business.