by Barbara Rodgers, NC, BCHN®, NANP President and Nicole Hodson, NC, BCHN®, Executive Director, NANP
Entrepreneurs aren’t known for being joiners. In fact, starting your own business is the ultimate way to avoid playing by other people’s rules.
As a small business owner and someone who may work on your own all day, every day, you want to be growing yourself, your team and your business continually. Firsthand experience tells us that doing so will be challenging to accomplish if you work in a vacuum, with little contact within the broader industry.
Below are just a few reasons joining your industry association is so important. Then, we will give you examples of how to choose the perfect association.
Top 3 Reasons to Join an Industry Association
1. Networking. Having relationships with other business owners in your industry can add massive value to your company; they know what it’s like to run a business in your field and have experienced many of the same issues from which you can learn. Networking allows you to tap into a variety of opportunities for your business by connecting with others.
2. Reputation and Credibility. When you become a member of an industry association, it sends a message. It means you take your business seriously enough to invest your time, energy, and resources outside of office hours into learning everything you can to build the most successful practice possible. Make no mistake – that message resonates with your colleagues, potential clients, and outside suppliers.
3. Advocate for the Industry. Most industries have common issues that impact all businesses associated with it; ours is no different. A professional organization will regularly lobby the government on behalf of their industry to ensure their members’ interests and those of the public are being protected. By joining such an association, you can become an advocate for your industry, or at the very least, stay on top of what the issues and changes are that could affect how you do business.
Despite the compelling reasons to join an association, there seems to be uncertainty among practitioners and others in our field about taking this important step. It can be confusing, and we get it!
Choosing how to allocate precious budget dollars is key to making the right business decisions. Let’s run through a few important considerations.
Top 3 Considerations When Choosing an Industry Association
a) Is the organization the leader in the industry? Industry associations support the broader field at large — companies, suppliers, employers, employees, and entrepreneurs, and protect their rights in the legislative arena. Standard for a true industry association would be to provide members with a range of services, including support and educational opportunities, access to job postings, networking, and the latest industry information and professional development to enhance their skills. Some associations (like the NANP) may also offer certifications to elevate your credentials.
b) Non-profit or for-profit? This is an essential distinguishing factor among industry associations. Most of them are non-profit. However, there are some associations in the nutrition space that are for-profit. The primary objective of a for-profit is to, well, make money. By contrast, a non-profit doesn’t prioritize profits but rather its mission. Therefore, the funds raised by a non-profit are usually directed right back into the association to pay for expanded offerings to its members in the form of additional educational programs or technologies, certification exams, relationships with companies that offer member discounts, etc.
c) Who is leading the organization, and what is their priority? A small group of incentivized individuals is at the helm of most private or for-profit organizations. They often receive bonuses and profit-sharing. Non-profit associations, such as the NANP, are led by a volunteer board of directors (in our case, all are holistic nutrition professionals) who have no financial stake in the organization. This type of board focuses first on community-building rather than turning a profit.
If you’ve been thinking about joining our association but are still on the fence, we have a special enticement for you! We invite you to take us for a test-drive by joining for FREE for thirty (30) days.
Joining the NANP is not just a good move for you as a practitioner; it is good for the entire industry. Growing our organization is central to our ability to represent us all legislatively and to provide our industry with cutting-edge tools and technologies to build your thriving nutrition practice so you can optimize the health of the world around you.
P.S. If you’re already a member of the NANP, you’re getting thirty (30) days of FREE membership, too! During the pandemic, we increased our membership grace period from thirty (30) days to sixty (60) days to lighten your load.