Joining trade associations can be an effective way for small businesses to increase their contacts and find potential customers, no matter what industry they operate in.
A trade association is an organization founded and operated by businesses in a specific field. Trade organizations often promote collaborative opportunities between companies and facilitate professional development opportunities for their members. In addition, they often publish materials for their members, including newsletters and magazines, directories, and professional resources.
They also may sponsor trade shows or conferences that bring together key players within a given industry to collaborate and learn, capture new customers, and view what’s upcoming and trending. These events often include workshops, breakout sessions, speaker presentations, targeted exhibition events, press and media opportunities, and networking events, as well as the exhibition floor, where companies can buy booth space to meet customers and promote their products and services.
Trade associations can help open the door to opportunities for small business owners through the people they meet—for example, they might develop stronger vendor relationships through their membership, or get the opportunity to work with other members on a collaborative project that increases their industry reach (and drives growth for their business as a result).
To help small business owners identify relevant trade associations and affinity groups, Naperville Public Library offers several resources that can be accessed within the library, as well as from home with a NPL card number and PIN.
- Gale Directory Library includes information on more than 600,000 international and U.S. national, regional, state, and local nonprofit membership organizations. Results can be filtered by criteria including the types of publications produced by the organizations.
- Gale Business Insights Global contains a wealth of industry information, including trade associations. This database can be searched by NAICS or SIC code as well as keyword.
Other useful resources that can be found online include:
- Tradeshow Network Marketing Group offers an online calendar that lists upcoming trade shows from a variety of industries, along with locations and expected numbers of attendees and exhibitors.
- Marketing Mentor maintains a list of links to major U.S. trade associations by industry.
For more information about this and other topics, consider registering for the NaperLaunch Academy workshop series or scheduling a one-on-one appointment with a business librarian or NaperLaunch coach.