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Are we sinking or swimming?

ARE WE SINKING OR SWIMMING?

Spring is here already. Maybe it hasn't dawned on you yet from the traditional signs: melting snow (maybe you live in Florida), flowers, birds, deluges of rain and seed catalogs.

If you haven't noticed any of these things, surely you haven't missed spring's telltale signs within our industry: the blooming of registration kits, brochures, mailings, fax and voice messages, Communications News Date Slate, and other media announcing 1990 trade shows, conferences, seminars, and usergroup meetings.

But don't start whistling a happy tune and thinking of young love.

Let's pay attention to some other signs--not of spring but of what could be the end of an exciting growing season that lasted more than 20 years.

* There's been an overall decrease in attendance at major shows. I looked at "paid," not "freebie," figures.

* Vendor/supplier participation in traditional social events is waning. In some cases, subtle blackmail has been used to simulate the participation.

* Speakers are overexposing themselves, and we keep seeing the same seminars over and over. Most of us belong to several trade groups; we're not being fooled.

*User groups are getting stronger. Their number nears that of the associations, threatening traditional associations with the competition they create. the synergy isn't there that would alllow them to not only peacefully coexist but fruitfully feed off each other.

* Association exhibits are getting watered down.

* I'm seeing an increase in overcrowded conference and trade-show schedules.

I'am suree this list can be augmented.

The signs are there.

The good old days are on the wane.

In fact, they may be gone.

On the other hand, there are signs that our profession is responding and attempting to correct the situation.

I'm beginning to discern an upswing in vendor/supplier participation as speakers in conference seminars.

We need more involvement with liaison programs. If your association doesn't have one, start one.

Many associations have, or are considering including, suppliers as "associate members" or " members at large."

I'm seeing signs of more cooperation among associations, as evidenced in regulatory matters and the TAG (Telecommunications Associations Council).

As I've said before, the association community should be more sensitive to the needs of its membership, especially the need to form user groups.

Associations are missing out on a great opportunity to provide support staff, seminars, programs, exhibit expertise, and newsletters.

Not to mention increased membership and their increased treasury and clout.

Some associations include user groups in conference programs or at least provide meeting rooms.

Let's wise up.

Roger Underwood has been involved in telecommunications for over 30 years as a corporate telecomm manager, association leader (president of ICA, charter director of TCA), and advisor and liaison to the association and supplier communities. Contact him with association news at 185 Front St., Suite 201, Danbury, CA 94526 (415-831-1140).
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Are 20 years of growth for professional associations coming to an end?
Author:Underwood, Roger
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Words:465
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