Being a part of an industry association can set an individual and his or her business apart. Active involvement in the betterment of a company and its employees shows clients working with the best of the best—people who strive for continuous improvement.
“You can keep up-to-date on trends in the field through guest speakers and local and national conferences,” explains Thomas J. Denham, managing partner and career counselor of Careers in Transition LLC. “Professional associations conduct research and analyze statistical information that enables professionals to function more efficiently and identify critical new directions.”
Association involvement is not only good for a business but the industry as well. When members come together, they create a stronger voice for innovation. “Membership in an industry association keeps business owners on top of important, ever-changing issues, trends, and legislation within their marketplace,” explains Betsy Demitropoulos, a senior business editor with five years of experience writing for business publications.
Many professionals believe the greatest benefit of being an association member is the networking and camaraderie among members. “No matter what field you work in, there’s a lot of truth to the saying ‘who you know is just as important as what you know,’” shares Bright Hub’s, Mary White.
“There’s no substitute for building a strong contact network that includes other people who work in your profession, prospective customers, and other professionals who market products and services to the same group of customers you need to reach. That’s just one of the reasons becoming an active member in one or more professional associations relevant to your industry is such a good idea for small business owners who want to become successful.”
Leadership in Action
Like the Building Owners and Managers Association is the premier association for property owners and managers, the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) is considered the landscape industry’s major association.
PLANET represents more than 100,000 landscape industry professionals who create and maintain healthy, green living spaces for communities across America. PLANET members are committed to the highest standards in industry education, best practices, and business professionalism.
When HighGrove Partners’ CEO Jim McCutcheon first began going to PLANET events in 1995, he was excited to be connecting with the best companies in the business. “In talking with them and getting to know them, I noticed that some of the best and brightest in the industry were not only members of the association, but they were actively involved,” he says. “I realized if I wanted to get the most out of my association involvement, I needed to get more involved, too.”
McCutcheon began volunteering for PLANET committees, subcommittees, and specialty groups in 1998, and then continued being invited to participate and chair these teams, including the Student Career Days Subcommittee, the Crystal Ball Subcommittee, and the PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation (AEF), as well as the board of directors.
This year, in addition to chairing the Crystal Ball Subcommittee and PLANET AEF, McCutcheon was named PLANET president-elect as a part of the association’s board of directors fiscal year that began May 1. In this role, McCutcheon takes on the responsibility of the association treasurer.
“I’m very humbled that my peers would want me in this position,” McCutcheon says. “I feel like I have the opportunity to really give back and help shape where the association and industry are going. And, in a way, this also gives me the chance to leave a legacy.”
In this new role, McCutcheon hopes to share what he’s learned as a business owner with other PLANET members and continue to learn and better his business and the industry overall. “We’ve never been afraid to try something different and learn from others,” McCutcheon says. “HighGrove will always continue to innovate, push the edge, and find bigger and better ways to solve customer’s problems.”