What good are Associations & why put them on your resume?

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So I was having a conversation with someone I met a few years ago and all he could talk about and use to promote himself after about 2 minutes of talking was that he was a member of one of the larger Marketing Associations in the USA and that he meets a lot of people that are also members of the same Association.  Unfortunately when I started to say ok, what projects have you worked on together, what have you learned and can execute on, what have they learned and executed, etc… he had to say nothing which brings me to the point of this post.

What is the point of an Association or Industry Association anymore and do they even matter?  Furthermore, why would you even think it is a good idea to add it into your resume and use it as a selling factor when you are interviewing for a job.

Lets go over what an Association is good for and when it is needed first.

The thing about an industry Association is that it should do something to help your industry, not be a million people pretending to be experts and bragging about what they have done in the past.  For me, I never really joined any but if I am going to join one, it would probably be Affiliate Advocacy or something that actually does good for the industry.  For me Assocations need to protect and defend an industry and help make it so our industries can thrive and be profitable.  Unfortunately, most Associations now aday forget this and don’t really remember to protect us, keep up with current and new trends, promte actual best practices (not what used to be best practices as they change) and then when your industry is clean and worth presenting, protect the hell out of it from the Politicians or groups that oppose you.

The thing that I think most Associations are missing is that they don’t teach you things and make you buy the information you need.  Melanie and Affiliate Advocacy for example actually take a different approach where yes I belive they charge membership, but if you cannot afford it, you can still find information and ways to help protect yourself and keep your business going even when unfair tax laws are being forced upon our industry.  That is one thing that I like about her organization is that they actual teach things and you can learn and grow with actual knowledge and actual results and information to keep the industry thriving.  Now, you may ask about the other large Affiliate Association growing, but unfortunately at this point, I probably will not support it mainly because although they will preach things, until they take action on cleaning the Affilitae Industry, outting the adware and toolbar Affiliates and teaching Merchants on the dangers of them, as well as being as vocal and outward as Affiliate Advocacy on tax issues, I don’t see a point.  For me, I need an Association that caters to both people who can afford to be members and people who cannot.  I want them to defend my industry to my politicians and promote best practices, even if it goes against their donors.  If I find that, even if I disagree with what they are focusing on, as long as it progresses our industry or their cause, then I can be on board, but lately, It has been almost impossible to find one, business or socially, that I can believe in.  It seems like most forget to engage their audiences and really that thier job is to protect and educate them.  Thank god we now have bloggers and people like Melanie who are actually doing their best and in my opinion, helping to make a difference, whether it is for the good or the bad.  Which goes into my next point for this post.

If you are on an interview, would you include and talk about being in an Association?

For me, that is an instant check on the cons list of an applicant.  Sounds odd doesn’t it?  Especially if you are just out of business school or learning from some of the older people.

The thing is for me, I could care less what groups you are a part of.  What matters to me is what can you do for me, my Clients and my business.  If you are talking about being a part of an Association, why are you wasting my time, I only care about what you can do for my company, how your skills are relevant to the position or role and what ideas you have to bring to me.  Not that you belong to some group that is not my consumer base, etc… chances are that that will not drive sales, will distract you from your job and further more, if you need to rely on them for something to talk about in your interview, then you don’t have enough skills to be one of my employees.  I look for Marketers and Sales people that are interesting.  Have things to talk about and if they run out of skills, they ready what is in my office or the decorations in it and then start up a conversation based on my interests.  If they can do that with me, they can do it with my Clients and that is what an employer is looking for.  Not that you are paying to be a part of some group that probably is so far behind the times it is not even funny.  Not to mention most of their methods and techniques are years old and most are probably no longer relevant or able to be combined with new technologies.

Years ago bosses and companies thrived on looking for people who showed an interest in their industry Assocations, however that is something that leads to lazy workforces since they look for that and forget about what the person can do for their company.  Sure if they are both a member of the same fraternity then there is a bond, but an industry assocation doesn’t show you have the same interests or any of the skills needed for a job.  It doesn’t mean you are dedicated or devoted or show any intiative or even are a clock puncher or a person who loves what they do, you probably learned in business school for fell for Marketing hype that it will help you get a job or impress your future employers.

Years ago that would be true, but unfortunately for the people dumb enough to waste the 10 to 30 minutes in their interview talking about an industry Association instead of talking about how their skills match the role, well the people who found that type of thing important are all retiring and the people in my generation are now the Directors, VPs, EVPs, Presidents and Officers of the companies and what is helping us fix the workforce again and pull our Economy out of th recession is by not caring about if you belong to an Assocation and caring about what you can actually do to grow my company and make it better.

I’m not saying Associations are not important because some of them do some good like Melanie’s Affiliate Advocacy, but in my opinion, most others are 100% useless anymore and if someone talks about being in an Association in an interview and not about their skills, they just wasted valuable time to promote themselves, my time where I could have been working on something important or intervied people who are higher quality and they have pretty much put them out of the running for the job, unless there was no one better.

Anyways, that is just my thoughts on Associations and Interview and if you have a different thought or opinion, well please feel free to say it here as I am always open to hearing what other people have to say.

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