Oftentimes, our work and our business can create a tight little bubble around us. We tuck in, keep our heads down, and focus. It’s especially true when we’re just getting started.
This can be an uncertain time, and it’s bound to be a tense time, regardless of how you come into this industry. Knowing the ropes and learning how to navigate them can be very different things. Sometimes help and encouragement can be found within the industry if we only know where to look.
This year’s Annual Service Training Institute (ASTI) set a new attendance record. Servicers and vendors from all over the world (yes, the world!) came together to share knowledge and to network. As the event enters its thirtieth year, it’s more and more evident that we come together for many reasons. Some are in search of knowledge and information, others are looking to improve processes and procedures. But today many of those things are accessible through computers and webinars, so why is it so important to be part of an association? More important, why do we need the all-important “face time” with each other?
We can, after all, get it from a Zoom meeting, so why do we need to stand in someone’s presence or share a meal?
With all the things the electronic age has brought us, it’s no substitute for the human touch. No matter how it may be emulated with AI and the like, it will never be a substitute for breaking bread or sharing a drink. It’s a basic need, and it plays a large role in evolving into the business leaders we’re striving to become.
In addition to the obvious community that has and continues to evolve around us, close friendships also link members together. Some friendships grew out of peer groups, others grew from a common goal or issue. Whatever path, we need these links to continue to grow and evolve. Our companies are rewarded by the connections we make at conventions. We have only to take a step back and examine our own growth to understand the impact it has on our company and our employees.
But in reality, we do turn to technology to bridge the gap and the distances. Resources such as webinars, virtual happy hours, and Laundry Room create opportunities to learn from each other, network, and stay connected. We can build others up as they build us, too. Each time we share an experience, good or bad, we give light to another who may be grappling with the same issue. When we present an opposing opinion, we open the minds of others to stretch and grow. We share a commonality that few others can directly relate to.
Some are just starting their journey, while others have thoughts of how to bring theirs to a close. Much wisdom can be shared between the two and must be shared if we are to evolve and become more effective. This year’s ASTI had many new attendees who became inspired by the group as a whole. The welcoming of ideas and sharing of purpose was wonderful to witness.
The impact and importance of joining are evident, but the necessity is, too. If there’s strength in numbers, then there must be strength in the act of joining the numbers. I have heard business owners say that they have no need to join an association, that they are doing fine and don’t see the value. I would offer this response to those who feel this way: the value is in what you put into it. This is true of most things, but an association most of all. What you get out of it is in direct proportion to what you put in. The investment is small in comparison to the reward. The friendships and connections remain long after the in-person ASTI conference is over.
In life, most of us desire that we be heard and understood by others. Nowhere is this more likely to occur than with your trade association. Please visit www.UnitedServicers.com for more information on ASTI and United Appliance Servicers Association.
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