A few years ago, I thought it would be beneficial to join my local trade association, the Minnesota Precision Manufacturers Association (MPMA). I had attended a few of their events as a guest of vendors and knew several people who were already involved in the organization.
After joining and attending a few professional and social events, I realized there was much more to this organization that I had imagined. From the outside, I assumed it was a space for peers within the industry to connect and discuss current events and issues within the industry. In regards to the MPMA, I soon realized they were much more active and involved than imagined. Below are some specific examples.
Government Relations: With a dedicated group of Government Relations members who meet on a monthly basis, they touch base with local and national politicians, civic organizations, and business associations (Chamber of Commerce) to represent the manufacturing community and bring our requests/concerns to their attention.
Workforce Development: Working with local high schools and technical colleges, they are bridging the gap between secondary students looking for education options and the vast opportunities available within manufacturing. Something we can certainly use more of.
Education Foundation: The MPMA for years has offered scholarships to students entering or enrolled at a technical college studying in the manufacturing trades (machining, engineering, robotics, etc). This foundation has provided thousands of dollars each year to assist with tuition, emergency student funding, and so on.
Networking: You can always learn something from a peer. An opportunity to mingle with professionals in your industry has always proven to be a learning opportunity. Surrounding yourself with smart people will never hurt and learning more about your industry and the commonalities between peers will always be beneficial.
There are many local and national organizations that you can be a part of. Whatever you decide, being involved only helps your industry. Take time to identify a few groups that might interest you and give it a chance. It will be well worth your time.