By Lowell Aplebaum

Though the world may be big, even across oceans, the association community is small and powerful. Across the globe, associations tackle similar challenges and opportunities: how to grow membership, how to provide dynamic learning and meetings, what is good governance and how do we advocate on behalf of the industries we serve, to name a few. Suffice to say, we are all constantly looking to improve as organizations and professionals in our field, and manage bottlenecks. With universal themes and possibility, it would seem that there is an opportunity for a greater global connection, guided by a singular mantra: Stronger Together.

I mean, that’s the whole point, right? Associations help companies and individuals associate, form connections, all for a purpose. And I think the better that we do that, the more impact we can have and that’s not just for an industry, that’s also for us as professionals and as an industry. As we are tackling similar problems, we could likely use similar solutions, although areas of focus and priorities may differ from one geographical region to another. If we take on a global perspective to problem-solving, we would have the wealthiest pool of knowledge to draw from, allowing us to be better equipped when facing problems. There are models in development, being piloted, and succeeding where organizations look beyond their borders to discover how global corollary competitors could instead be collaborators. As we look abroad, there are few areas where organizations can reflect on building these stronger relationships:

1. Where are our areas of value focus in line with those of similar membership/non-profit organizations elsewhere – where the value we create could either serve their audience, where their value could serve ours, or where there could be a place of co-creation? Though membership models may shift around the world, being of service and value remains a constant.

2. From a governance perspective, what voices of insight, knowledge, and trend identification would better inform our leaders at home as to the needs and priorities of those abroad? How could this information then shift the goals and vision of the organization to truly include a global line of sight?

3. Who are the thought leaders and organizational champions, domestically and globally, who can lead the way in having these conversations? Who are the individuals that will hold at heart the best interest of the organization, and bring to the table an open ear and hand – looking to listen, learn, and find opportunities for stronger together?

Opportunities exist the moment we look beyond our borders, and these are the important questions we must ask ourselves to be able to identify them. There is a lot to learn from one another and we need to be taking an active interest to stay informed of what is happening elsewhere to form stronger relationships and truly be united. While not comprehensive – any of these places can be enhanced by partnerships and help an organization design a stronger global approach.

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