Raj Nisankarao, President
National Business Association (NBA)
We are all approached by one group or another to join usually for a fee. The first question one asks is why? What’s in it for me? What am I getting for my money? Is there a value proposition?
Are you wondering if this is a sale pitch for the association I represent? Not really. These are relevant and important questions that need to be answered and offer a myriad of unique and interesting perspectives.
Belonging to an association is a matter of camaraderie, sharing a common goal and interest, fulfilling a sense of purpose and an innate desire to belong and contribute to something larger. I, for one, belong to several associations–American Society of Association Executives, University of North Texas Alumni, University of Dallas to name a few. The National Business Association’s mission is to serve the self-employed and small business community. However, it also belongs to and supports several associations as well–Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Association of Small Business Development Centers, Service Corps of Retired Executives among others. Each group brings its own unique characteristic and flavor to the table. The relationship I form with each group fulfills a need for kinship with that particular group and is symbiotic in nature. Not only do I have a bond at an individual level with a fellow member but collectively as a group. I am active with one association for a week or a month and may not go back for several months.
Associations have been around for longer than one would imagine and come in all flavors. Most associations are not-for-profit and serve the purpose of their membership be it for lobbying, the self-employed, small business, education or any subset of a group. They invest huge intellectual capital to provide members a unique perspective be it advice, articles, training workshops, business intelligence, access to benefits or proprietary software. Their services are very important in that they do not have a hidden agenda and are operated to promote the common interest of members. Would you be surprised to know that the New York Stock Exchange(1) is a non-profit association and was first organized in May 17, 1782(2)?
Another example is the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), "a membership organization of more than 22,000 association executives and industry partners representing more than 11,000 organizations"(3) and is based in Washington, DC. Not everyone can or has reason to belong to this particular group but its members form a kinship in the association management community. However, it gives members access to information and advice that they could not get on their own due to lack of knowledge, expertise and capital. It does offer discounts and other "add-on" benefits from sponsors but what makes it worthwhile is that it furthers its members’ kinship of belonging to the association community.
Do you associate yourself with Facebook, Twitter or a social network? How about Linkedin or an alumni association? If you do, you belong to an association.
National Business Association
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(1) NYSE Euronext – Firsts and Records – http://www.nyse.com/about/history/1022221392987.html.
(2) NYSE Euronext – Timeline -
(3) American Society of Association Executives – About Us -