Recently, Unique Venues of London's managing director, Lisa Hatswell contributed an article to leading business broadsheet City A.M., focusing on the many benefits of belonging to an association.
In these uncertain times, adopting a united front can be a powerful way to overcome the many challenges such circumstances bring. We only have to look at the political, social and economic turmoil of the last decade to observe how making big decisions in a fractured fashion has negative long term consequences.
The whole situation has, understandably, made UK business, from major corporations to nascent start-ups, apprehensive. Whether times are tough or we’re reclining in clover, a union of hearts and minds can offer companies a greater degree of strength and stability, simultaneously giving a reassuring bedrock of support and security. It’s the secret of association.
Associations, either for business or leisure, are nothing new. In fact I’m sure a significant number of those reading this column will be members of an association.
For those reading this who are not, let me take the opportunity to outline a few of the key benefits that being a member of a business association has to offer.
For many smaller companies, the ability to launch and manage large scale, integrated communications campaigns is beyond their financial reach. Most associations have robust, established promotional channels including printed magazines, direct emailers, e-newsletters and PR support. When weighed against annual membership fees, the benefits become clear, offering an opportunity for members to participate in external communications activities which would normally cost thousands of pounds when pursued individually.
Many associations offer educational programmes which help upskill and empower members. This ranges from business best practice, sometimes linked to CPD, through to soft skills. For example, we recently teamed up with leading business coach Laura Capell-Abra from Stress Matters to help launch an accredited Mental Health First Aider training course, tackling the issue of workplace wellbeing and how managers can establish channels for juniors to communicate personal problems, openly and discretely. Often these multi member courses, offer invaluable training at a very reasonable rate.
Networking is an important part of an association’s services. Organisations like ours also offer a number of informal social gatherings throughout the year. Importantly they allow like-minded professionals, with a shared experience, to meet, greet and establish lasting relationships. I’ve been involved in Unique Venues of London for 18 years and have seen many firm friendships grow out of attending our events and receptions.
All too often, I think the fun aspect of membership is played down, when we should actually be celebrating it as a major reason to join an association.
Associations possess the advantage of being able speak in unison on behalf of the membership. This is an essential and advantageous function when a collective voice is required. This might be to feed into an industry white paper or to react against an impactful government policy. It’s a case of strength in numbers: decision makers are often more likely to listen to the spokesperson of a wide-held view than a series of soloists singing the same sentiment in a disjointed fashion.
When we work together, we are stronger. In my opinion, the association model offers advantages which go far beyond the often modest membership fees. So don’t be left out: consort, coalesce and cooperate. It will improve the way you and your colleagues do business.