“I’m not getting anything for my dues” or “One case referral pays my dues” are two of the most common responses to association memberships. One is no more common than the other, yet they are complete opposites of each other.
What is the importance of association membership and support? First, let’s look at different types of associations for professional investigators:
- State Associations
- National Associations
- International Associations
To each of these, not so much state associations, you may have specialized association for legal investigations, legislation, expertise, security, etc. To learn and network in your specialized areas, join associations for your expertise. This includes fraud, fire, social work, etc. This may also include causes that you believe in for the work you do – such as charities, innocence projects, etc.
What associations do we belong to? Please visit www.DeathCaseReview.com/associations-memberships.html and feel free to contact us about your own membership questions.
State associations find it necessary to embrace several areas to benefit their members – legislation, training, and networking. Each state association is truly the work horse of our profession, and can be as complex to fun as a larger national association. The importance of bridging national and state associations is important to our growth – individually and as a profession.
Each association offers the same basic benefits of networking through its membership – from directories to listserves, and regional meetings to large conferences. Many also offer distance learning training, as well as tangible benefits from car and hotel discounts, to insurance discounts and savings through programs. Membership in more than one association has its benefits, but they do not compound with each association – some are unique, others are redundant. Two important benefits every member gets is networking through participation and interaction, and staying in business through professional advocacy.
In our agency, we are not looking to have multiple referrals through the year – we may get one or two, or none – and sometimes we simply do not know. For example, there are state, national and international associations in which many colleagues also belong. If they contact us for a case referral, we cannot credit one association membership over another. The fact is, we can only credit our growing personal relationships with our colleagues – which begins with, and is strengthened by, our association networking. It is invaluable for this reason. For one association, its not the referrals paying our dues – it’s a single benefit of discounts at a nationwide office supply store. Through a print and copy discount program – saving over 75% – we save $3,000-$4,000 per year; which pays for all of our associations’ dues.
Most important – you gain from membership what you put in. Idle membership, just paying dues, has little benefit to you. However, at the least it does benefit the association, and our profession, through the support. Dues go to training and advocacy, furthering our profession – and that is a benefit we all have, and may not actively realize. If you want to gain more from associations, be active on the listerv (within the rules – requests for assistance, responding to assistance, referrals, tips, news, etc.). To really make a difference you should be actively involved. From committees to leadership, there is room for you to make a difference. Is there any personal gain? No. In fact, it comes with a price financially and with your time. However, you begin to meet some of the most dedicated people and really see what makes our profession tick and run – from the largest issue, down to the individual member.
We recommend at least three levels of association membership – the state you primarily operate in, a national legislative association, and a national networking association. From there, add other states you operate in and specialty associations. By comparison, within our agency, we have found fees on other directories and marketing - often higher than association dues - have no return on investment. Moreover, associations vet their members and we know we will give and receive referrals with quality colleagues - never an unknown through generic resources.
Our state association is the Professional Private Investigators Association of Colorado (www.PPIAC.org). PPIAC has about 125 members - a steady number for a decade; in a state of about 800 licensed PIs - mandatory since 2015. It is baffling why there are so few joining, considering PPIAC is the only state association advocating for our profession - through training and legislative monitoring. The same can be said of national associations we belong to (NCISS for legislative, and NALI for legal investigations). As small as PPIAC is, and in a state of the relative small size Colorado is - there is a connection. Both PPIAC and Colorado, as a state, are powerhouses nationally. PPIAC has had more leadership and active roles in the major national and international associations (NCISS, NALI, WAD, etc.) than even the largest state associations in the country. PPIAC is as easily recognized in the top five state associations, as the top three are for their significant size. PPIAC has a large footprint - and this is because of the strong members and leadership, despite its relative small size.
Your membership is more than dues. It is growth through relationships and knowledge, and advocacy to keep you in business.
Our profession is more than investigations – it is about expertise, learning and networking – Together We're Better!