This is a subject that has been rolling around in my head for quite some time, but I was never able to solidify a blog until I read Kathy Passarette's recent post Hmmmm....Which Organization should I join? While her approach was on a more general industry level, I have chosen to lay it all out there (what a surprise) from my own perspective.
Since opening Details Staging and Redesign in 2005, I have been given several opportunities to join organizations, all offering endless benefits to my business. I'm sure they expect that I will be bringing some benefits to the table as well. Quite frankly, I have not joined any of them. Why? I am very leery of joining an organization not knowing entirely what is required of me or what that membership will entail. I also find the total of the fees staggering.
Here is a list of the Associations I have been tempted to join and their respective fees-
Internation Association of Home Staging Professionals - $150 annually
Real Estate Staging Association - $120 annually
Decorating Alliance of North America - $175 annually
American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners - $99 annually
Leads Club - $336 annually (according to the info I could find)
BNI, International- Fee was unclear but according to their pitch of 'less than $1 a day" I am going to estimate $350 annually.
Local Business Associations:
Chamber of Commerce - $300 annually
Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors - $145 annually for affiliate membership plus $200 initiation fee
Porter County Builders Association - $450 annually for affiliate membership
Northwest Indiana Creative investment Association (a group of property investors) $36 annually
The total to join all of these associations borders on $2500 to be paid yearly. In the grand scheme of things this may seem like a nominal amount of money, but how many of these groups can you reasonably be active in, run your business and still have a life?
I truly believe that to be a member of something it cannot be in name only. It seems like a waste to me to just pay your annual fee and not do anything else. If you are going to get a return on your investment, you must put a level of effort into it. Most of these groups meet monthly and some weekly. Could I maintain that level of activity with a family to care for? Would I really be a benefit to any of these groups if I joined them all? Could I really maintain the level of involvement in all of them required to benefit my business?
I have asked myself all of the questions and it comes down to this - which of these groups am I convinced are right for me and which do I feel I can be of benefit the most? All of them have their pros and cons and I have yet to reach a concrete decision.
Balance between my professional and family life is extemely important to me and that is what will weigh most heavily in these decisions. I have to be able to give my best to both and not be wasteful with my time and resources. So, that is what I must decide - what associations will it be mtually beneficial to be involved in?