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Monday, July 30, 2007

The Construction Professionals Network of North Carolina restricts membership by category
The executive leads organization

Some years ago, when I first heard about the Ottawa Executives Association, I grew excited about the business potential of this group. Founded in the Great Depression, it has survived through booms and busts with a powerful formula. Only one member is permitted within any business category, and that member is (supposed to be) the president or senior executive officer of the business.

In our case, the reality of the association did not match my expectations and I dropped out after about a year, but this could be less to do with the association than the nature of our business. Since we earn most of our money selling business-to-business advertising (within the specific construction industry sector), there is relatively little value of our belonging to a closed network that believes relationships are the best ways to find new clients, rather than advertising. Notably some contractors -- including a local electrical contractor -- have remained members for decades -- even though membership requires a weekly (expensive) lunch.

However, there are still problems -- namely, issues such as 'category creep' (should you let a member in who is in a supposedly distinctive but very close area), the awkwardness of competition since many businesses now overlap sectors, and, perhaps more challenging, the erosion of the owner-is-present situation so that you find your business counterparts are salespeople with absolutely no purchasing authority. Certainly these associations are not "quick hit" organizations -- so you need to invest lots of effort at the start -- and continuously --to get any value. I think for some members, in strong categories which provide essential business needs and services, the associations can be highly lucrative; again, they appear to work for trades with a high service orientation.

But since this is the Construction Marketing Ideas blog, I need to reference the potential of this type of group to you since it could be a truly effective source of leads -- especially if you are looking for maintenance-type work and wish to escape the dog-eat-dog "low bid wins the work" competition.

The OXA belongs to a network of similar associations under the International Executives Organization banner.

Today, our North Carolina publisher Bob Kruhm introduced me to a similar type of exclusive organization, but one dedicated to the construction industry only. The Construction Professionals Network of North Carolina currently has three chapters in Charlotte, the Triangle, and Triad. Membership is restricted to avoid duplicating or overlapping membership categories.

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