Whether your area of business is in construction, education, agriculture, health care, manufacturing or another field, almost every industry is supported by an industry association.
Usually operating as not-for-profit organisations, industry associations can perform a range of functions designed to assist the businesses operating throughout the sector—however, you’ll most likely need to fork out a decent sum of money before your business can become a member and receive access the bulk of their services.
If you’re toying with the idea of registering your business for industry association membership but don’t know if it’s going to be worth the investment, here’s a summary of some of the common functions often performed by industry associations which could be of benefit to your business.
- Industry advice: Industry associations will usually be at the forefront of any legislative changes that impact the wider industry, so they can be an excellent source of information and advice to help you better understand how any recent or upcoming changes will affect your business.
- Lobbying government: Most industry associations also lobby on behalf of the industry to influence legislative, regulatory and government policy which impacts the industry. Because they effectively represent the industry as a whole, they have a higher capacity to influence decision-making than a single business entity would.
- Credibility: Industry association can also provide your business with a certain level of credibility. Depending on the industry, it’s most likely that your business will need to meet a range of criteria before you can be eligible for industry membership. If your business meets that criteria, it can prove to your customers that the business is credible and holds all the required certifications to operate within the industry.
- Useful resources: Depending on the industry, your business is most likely required to adhere to a range of industry-specific standards. Industry associations are also often able to provide a range of resources and support to businesses to help them meet those standards.
- Support and training: With an in-depth understanding of the challenges businesses within the industry are facing and an interest in further developing skills and capabilities of the industry, they often also run various training, education and mentoring programmes which can be largely beneficial for the professional development of your staff.
- Network building: Most industry associations also facilitate regular industry networking events which provide an avenue for you to connect with other similar businesses and industry bodies to share ideas and forge mutually beneficial relationships.
- Standardised contracts: Some industry associations also develop standardised industry-specific contracts which are available for use by members. For example, industry associations like Grain Trade Australia have developed a suite of industry-specific standardised contracts suitable for a range of common scenarios which companies operating in the industry (like Nhill Bulk Handling) can use if they choose to.
- Industry promotions: Many industry associations also regularly conduct various advertising campaigns funded by their members. While individual companies will typically be operating in competition with each other, an industry association will aim to persuade or educate the public about a particular issue or promote the industry as a whole to encourage wider market growth.
There’s no question that there are a range of ways membership with an industry association can benefit a business, however it’s important you conduct some research about the specific functions performed by the association that represents your industry before registering, as this can vary significantly between industries.
The functions listed in this article are intended to provide a general representation of functions commonly performed by trade or industry associations and do not relate to any specific industry or association.