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We live in a complex, fast moving, and inter-reliant world where it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with the pace of change. As a result, we’ve come to realise that sharing information is generally mutually beneficial and often, the greatest things are achieved when we work side by side with others. Forums and associations exist across most industries and sectors, and they have a range of purposes. In this blog, we’ll identify the most common functions of forums and associations. We’ll also look at how being a member can benefit not just the industry as a whole, but also your business directly. 

Information sharing

Forums and associations give professionals and experts across an industry, the opportunity to come together to share knowledge, learning, news and industry insights. Sharing information in this way can help to identify industry wide issues. 

Increased networking opportunities

Networking is a key part of all industry forums and associations. It allows businesses to keep up to date with the latest industry trends and developments. It strengthens the industry as a whole by creating a sense of cohesion, as well as shared interest and responsibility. IABM, the International trade association for Broadcast and Media Technology, is one of the main trade associations in the broadcast and media industry. It promotes networking and interaction and keeps its members informed through a range of services and facilities that encourage discussion and collaboration. 

Promote Innovation

Some membership groups’ raison d’être is to promote innovation. One such example of this is SIG (Satcoms Innovation Group), whose main aim is to promote innovation in the satellite communication industry, in order to improve operational efficiency and reduce impact, saving time and money. Becoming a member of SIG allows an organisation to become influential over innovation within the satellite communication industry. SIG creates opportunity for discussion between industry operators and professionals in order to examine challenges and opportunities, as well as considering the technical aspects of industry efficiencies as a whole. 

Debate, discussion and collaboration

When it comes to identifying and addressing industry wide challenges, debate and discussion are invaluable. Forums and associations provide the opportunity to do exactly that, through meetings, events and workshops. 

DPP is one such association in the media industry that brings together companies from across the media supply chain to share knowledge, solve problems and create business opportunities. SVG (Sports Video group) is another example of an industry association, this time with a more focused interest. It is specifically for professionals that rely on video, audio, and broadband technologies to produce and distribute sports content. 

Driving change

Membership groups also have a role to play in driving forward industry change. A good example of this is the RIST Forum, which is a membership group of technical experts from across the broadcast industry that champion the use of the RIST protocol as a highly effective method for interchanging video between different vendors over any infrastructure. 

Collective voice

Associations often act as a collective voice for individual businesses across an industry. This is an important point, because after all, as Aristotle once said, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  

Influencing policy, developing standards and sharing best practice

Professional associations often play a key role in inputting into regulatory frameworks and influencing policy decisions. In industries that are not regulated, associations can still have an important role to play in developing standards and agreeing best practice. AIB, the Association for International Broadcasting, is a global alliance of media companies that deliver, or support the delivery of, cross-border and multi-platform international broadcasting. One of its functions is to influence policy and it is active in areas such as Pay-TV regulations and media freedom. 

It is important to understand that being a member of an industry forum or professional association does not just benefit the industry as a whole. 

Being an industry forum or association member can benefit your business

Being a member can benefit your business in a number of ways. It can help your business to grow by building trust and strengthening your reputation in the industry. Networking is hugely important to any business because it is great for creating new business opportunities, it can help to build business relationships, it may help break you into new markets, and it can create opportunities for collaboration with other businesses. 

Knowledge is power, and if you want your business to thrive in a fast-moving industry, keeping up to date with industry news and technological developments is vital. Being able to discuss the developments with other experts in the field, in an open way, can give you a real advantage over others who do not have that same opportunity. Being a part of a professional association can even help make you stand out in your field and can help to position you as an industry leader.   

Joining a membership forum or professional association really can have a positive impact on your business by helping you to access better networking opportunities, by strengthening your reputation, and by helping you stay up to date with all of the latest industry developments. The benefits are hard to ignore.