Are Trade Organizations Right for You?

As you well-know, the industrial automation industry is an ever-evolving field that is constantly changing due to new technologies and advancements. Individuals and businesses in our industry need access to the latest information and resources to stay current and competitive. One way to achieve this is with a membership to a trade organization or trade association.

One of the most significant benefits of joining a trade organization, regardless of what industry you’re in, is access to industry-specific information. This can be the latest research, industry reports or any other resource that can help you stay up-to-date on the latest developments and trends. According to a study1 conducted by the National Business Association, 90% of respondents considered trade organizations a valuable source of industry news and information.

Networking opportunities are another benefit of membership. Attending trade shows, conferences and other industry events can be a great way to meet other professionals and potentially find new customers or partners. The same study1 mentioned earlier found that trade organizations can help members build valuable connections in the industry, with 70% of respondents reporting that they made new business contacts through their memberships.

Advocacy and representation are also important benefits of membership. Trade organizations go to bat for their industries at the local, state and federal levels, helping to shape policy and regulation in a way that benefits their members. This can be particularly important for small businesses or individuals who don’t have the resources to advocate for themselves, especially at that level of involvement.

Many trade organizations also offer educational programs that can help members develop new skills and stay competitive in the industry. For example, training programs in new technologies or emerging fields can be particularly valuable for individuals or businesses that are looking to expand their services or capabilities. According to a report2 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 96% of trade organization members believe that their organization provides valuable professional development opportunities.

Finally, in many instances, membership fees can be offset by taking advantage of discounts made available by members to members. In addition, some trade organizations offer insurance and legal services to their members and many offer a list of “trusted partners,” other service providers who meet a certain level of criteria, such as industry experience, ethics and/or results.

Are trade organizations right for every company? No. Membership fees can vary widely, and some may be too high and cost prohibitive. Also, some companies may not be inclined to take advantage of the opportunities outlined above, making membership a complete waste of their time and money. It’s important to do a self-evaluation of your company’s goals and needs and to research potential membership opportunities thoroughly to ensure that they align with those goals and needs, and that they provide the specific benefits you’re looking for.

Are trade organizations right for RTA? Yes. We belong to several trade organizations, taking advantage of many of the benefits discussed in this blog. But we’re selective. We evaluate our memberships annually, leaving those that don’t provide the ROI we anticipated (not necessarily determined in terms of dollars) and joining those that seemingly align with our goals (again, not necessarily determined in terms of dollars). Here are some other things we weigh in our decision.

  • Does it offer exposure to many different audiences, not just our core?
  • Are our partners, potential partners and competitors members?
  • Does it offer opportunities to present and leverage our industry leadership?

Are trade organizations right for you? The answer to that question is the never-popular it depends. Hopefully, this blog has offered you enough information and guidance to determine that for yourself.

If you’re looking for industrial automation connectivity solutions, maybe we’ll see you at one of our trade organizations’ trade shows. If not, you can always reach us at 800-249-1612, via email at or through the contact form on our website.

1National Business Association. (2017). Survey Report: 2017 Association Industry Outlook
2U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (2018). Association Learning + Technology Report