Lunchtime Links: Showcase Your Association’s History

How one association used TimelineJS, a free online tool, to tell its story. Also: Do tradeshows define the new economy?

Over the past few decades (or longer) you’ve built something great with your association. How should you show it off to the world?

One idea for that, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Turn back time: Does your association need a showcase for its history? (This Associations Now article explains why it’s a good idea.) Consider an approach that the Metal Construction Association (MCA) took: It built a timeline for its website explaining its history on the occasion of its 30th anniversary. How’d they make it? Well, they used a free tool, TimelineJS, which allows users to create easily embeddable timelines—and if you want to take things a step further, you can customize them to your heart’s content. (It does require organization, but the site walks you through the process.) MCA says this on its Metal Initiative site: “The Heritage section is a media-rich, interactive timeline that features significant milestones from MCA’s history. Take a look at the site, enjoy a trip down memory lane, and learn more about the value that MCA has brought to the metal construction industry.” Could your organization use a way to showcase your history? This might be a good option.

The rising value of tradeshows: Is it a little bold to call tradeshows the cornerstone of the new economy? Drew Hendricks of Business 2 Community suggests it might be, but then goes on to do so anyway, explaining their value as commerce drivers. Among their benefits? Tradeshows help put smaller businesses on equal footing with bigger ones. “For the price of booth rentals and a good presentation, small-business owners gain access to the same distributors, suppliers, and customers that their major competitors use,” he writes. “In some cases, having that access is the only way small businesses have been able to remain viable.” Does this sound like your experience with tradeshows?

Reclaim the “golden handcuffs”: Tom Morrison, CEO of the Metal Treating Institute (and, by the way, one of our 2013 Innovators), thinks the internet did a lot to change the value proposition for associations—and as a result, associations have ever since tried to find ways to be uniquely relevant to members. Essentially, groups are looking to reclaim their “golden handcuffs.” “Remember, in the world of associations, innovation isn’t developing the next big mobile app or device,” he writes. “It’s simply creating solutions that solve your member’s problems and challenges. If you do that, they will trust you, know that you care for them, and you will have great relevance in the life of their business.”

The connections mean everything: On the other hand, maybe the true value of association membership is in the people you meet. Shelly Alcorn, CAE, in a passionate post on her Association Subculture blog, argues that personal stories can go a long way toward selling the value of membership. “In a world of uncertainty, I am holding onto one thing that I believe is true—that what we do for a living means something,” she writes. “That our community is worth something. Maybe it’s naive, maybe I’m in denial—but I cannot see a world where people will not want to organize, to create, and to achieve great things with each other as helpers, collaborators, and friends.”

What sort of stuff are you reading online today? Tell us all about it in the comments.

(Metal Construction Association)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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