If you’re like me, you barely have enough time to do the things you need to do, let alone the things you want to do. Things that don’t fall into the “need to” category get added to a growing list that for me includes things such as learning another language and helicopter skiing.
Back when I first got started in the construction software industry—let’s just call it some number of years ago—I made time to join and participate in local construction associations. They were invaluable in helping me make connections, meet influential people, and understand the issues that were affecting construction businesses—from general contractors to electrical contractors. I needed to be a part of these organizations as I was establishing roots in the community and in the industry.
After several years of hard work, those roots were established. We kept growing as a software business, and making new connections became easier. So while I stayed involved in most of the local associations, I noticed that I did so mostly because I wanted to, not because I felt like I needed to. And I noticed that my level of participation changed as well. Where I had been in active leadership positions in the past, I was playing a more passive role as time went on.
Nevertheless, I stayed involved because I noticed how many new ideas and directions for my own company had their beginnings in association activities and interactions. In the early years, they helped me sink roots for my business. Later, they helped me judiciously branch up and out by keeping me connected to the trends and needs of our industry.
Today, I’m fortunate to have a well-established business with strong roots and the branches needed to feed future growth. And I’ve noticed that I’ve joined a collection of other established companies who serve as a resource to new companies who join industry associations for the same reasons I did—some number of years ago.
Yes there is competition, and, to keep the analogy going, some trees get more sunlight and water than others. But by associating with other companies, competitive or otherwise, you learn how to survive and thrive in the industry. By hanging out with the trees, you come to learn the forest.
How active are you in construction industry associations? How have they benefited your business?