Despite being touted as the new and best way to network, social media just cannot replace the advantages of a professional organization. And people are starting to realize it, too, because professional organizations (aka communities) have recently experienced a resurgence—58 percent of the under-40 population belong to one, according to Buzz Marketing Group’s June 2015 survey data.
Unlike the unregulated noise you deal with on social media, a curated community of like-minded people allows you to tap into the network to make connections and gain social capital faster and more effectively. So it’s no surprise that 92 percent of people under 40 believe that a professional organization provides a valuable experience.
Here are seven reasons why you should join a business community:
1. Support From Seasoned Peers
One major advantage of belonging to one of these communities is getting access to seasoned professionals who have seen it all and have some great “war stories” to share. Not only do these mentors have great advice about proven best strategies, but these more experienced professionals also know a lot more people than you do and are often willing to connect you to additional resources. That is reason alone to join a community.
2. A Community Management Team
Another major benefit of belonging to a well-run community is having access to a professional community management team. For example, YEC’s concierge team connects you to curated business resources and makes warm introductions on demand, making it one of the most coveted communities for entrepreneurs today. Levo is another great organization specifically for young professionals, with a highly engaged community and a team dedicated to helping you improve your career.
3. Access to Discounted Vendors and Services
If you’re just starting a business, you need to figure out everything from payroll to marketing to insurance on your own. Luckily, many communities can help you access what you need, often at a better price. Belonging to a community like FounderSociety unlocks access to top vendors and services like insurance, payment processing and marketing, often at a steep volume discount. They even have a business service concierge team dedicated to helping you optimize your spending.
4. Curated Networking
It can be lonely at the top, especially now. Today’s entrepreneurs spend considerable time traveling or working remotely. In the midst of working hard, it’s easy to lose sight of the value that socializing and peer support can provide. Communities like YEC and Summit offer both in-person events and personal connections (online and off) to industry thought leaders who can help your business grow.
5. Strength in Numbers
While being an entrepreneur can be exciting and satisfying, it’s also challenging, so it helps to know you have the support of an entire community. Whether you want to form a coalition to challenge industry regulations or just need someone to listen, having peers to support you is critical. With YEC, whenever you have a challenge or a business need, their member concierge team connects you with exactly the right person to help. Another example is StartupGrind, which is now in 150 cities and 65 countries and has assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs by connecting the right people at the right time.
6. Leads and Brand Visibility
Many communities also offer marketing and public relations tools that you can leverage to generate leads and conversions. For example, CoachesForum positions its members as thought leaders through a personal branding program, development of personal websites and media exposure opportunities. And don’t forget, your fellow members are potential leads for your business—what you offer professionally may be useful to them, and vice versa.
7. Attention on Industry News
It is easy to work in a vacuum, handling daily operations, putting out fires, and living and breathing your own business. However, you may find that distracts you from what is going on around you, including events and breakthroughs that impact your industry or the overall business environment. Joining a curated community keeps you attuned to what is happening that could impact your business, as well as to ideas that might change your strategy or perception of what your customers need and want.
There’s a sense of security, support and inspiration that comes from sharing and interacting with a group of your industry peers, colleagues and mentors—something social networking alone cannot and will not replace.
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #3 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur magazine and has been one of the Top 10 Most Influential PPC Experts in the World for the past three years. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.