Association leaders need to be futurists and makers. It’s that simple. We can no longer bask in the effervescent glow of 100 year-old business models and think our non-profit halos will protect us from massive disruption. It’s time to reinvent.
GET NERVOUS: BE BOLD
If you’re not designing a new future for your association right now, someone somewhere is going to do it for you. For example, with Apple and Amazon aggressively entering the healthcare market in ways no one predicted less than 3 years ago (both delighting and scaring the bejeezus out of a $3.7 trillion U.S. health system), who is to say that the association industry won’t also experience a massively disruptive market entrant?
Feeling nervous? That’s a good thing! It means you’re paying attention to the world around you. Complacency and inertia are no longer options, regardless of their causes. If you’re feeling stuck due to company culture, your Board, lack of funding, or—- well, it doesn’t matter—- you’re a leader, you’re daring and spirited. Now is the time to stick your neck on the line and boldly design your organization’s future.
WHAT IF: GET EVEN MORE NERVOUS
I’ll explore a not-too-unfathomable “What If” scenario to emphasize my point.
- What if a competitor to your association had relationships not only with ALL of your current members, but also almost every professional in your market?
- What if that competitor also had purchasing relationships with all of your members’ employers?
- What if that competitor also had a simple way to sell valuable certifications “in bulk” to your member’s employers?
- What if that competitor offered a state-of-the-art online learning platform to deliver those certifications, making the learning experience easy and enjoyable?
- And finally, what if that competitor used a highly-efficient methodology to keep its certifications up-to-date on a monthly basis?
Now brace yourself, take a seat, this may jolt you. There’s already a competitor out there who has dealt with the first 4 of these 5 bulleted questions. Let’s talk about a few facts:
- LinkedIn bought Lynda.com not too long ago. Now, LinkedIn Learning boasts thousands of courses from software development to general business and more.
- LinkedIn has relationships with tens of thousands of businesses through contracts with both LinkedIn Learning (for professional development) and LinkedIn for job postings. Their talent solutions revenue is growing rapidly (see graphs below).
- LinkedIn has thousands of free groups available to members. When it comes to my own organization, HFMA, our LinkedIn group has 58,000 members….that’s about 20,000 more members than the formal association. LinkedIn almost always will ‘know’ many more people in your industry than you do.
- LinkedIn Groups, not unlike association communities, generate their own cadre of intellectual property, discussions, document sharing, and other volunteer contributions.