Getting new language school customers is always based on one important aspect: getting them to trust you in the first place. Being associated with the right people helps a lot in establishing this trust. What is important to know when it comes to associations?
Business associations can help you to attract more suitable language students to your business. It is as important as having credentials for your language school business that shows potential language students what kind of official diplomas they can get.
If you are a language school in Spain, for example, showing that you are certified as a DELE certification school will associate you with you with the guarantee that you offer an official verified and a valid language service.
Another association is the so-called ISO certification program that reflects a high level of quality within businesses in regards of quality management within companies.
In this article let’s focus on the power of being associated with business associations from a specific business market itself. Examples of language-specific associations would be the popular language ICEF (see also the article Is the ICEF conference worth the time and effort?) conference group, The International Association Of Language Centers IALC (see also the article The Power Of Associations: What You Can Learn From The IALC) or the Spanish FEDELE association (see also the article The Power Of Associations: What You Can Learn From FEDELE)
Becoming a member of a business association can be as easy as signing up with a free online form or might be as complicated to go through a strict screening process and quite high membership fees.
Here are some important points to consider when you think about joining a business association to improve your own reputation as a language service provider.
Risk #1 You Are At The Mercy Of The External Reputation
The very same reason why businesses joining associations is also the biggest risk at the same time – the reputation of such association. If you join, you are at the mercy of the reputation as you have little influence on the whole network. If something goes wrong and a big scandal get’s public, it will rub off negatively on your business. This is why it is so important to carefully research and select only a few business associations to be connected with.
Risk #2 Joining Too Many Associations Might Hurt You
Some companies and businesses think it is better to be connected with as many associations as possible to spread the risk and have a wider network. This is not necessarily true.
Potential customers who come to your website and might not be familiar with many associations might be confused about how it is possible to be connected with so many different companies.
It depends on your kind of customers though. Some customers might be rather impressed with “how many credentials and connections” your business might have.
The problem with being connected with too many associations might also be in the factor that some of them might have conflicting interests and of course another problem might be the increased amount of obligatory activities.
Risk #3 Getting Sidetracked By Associations Activities
Being connected with an association will come with a minimum of required activities, which might include participating in conferences, being part of a board or discussion group or public relation activities.
Those are not bad at all, but they come with an often underestimated amount of energy, time and finances involved.
Being a member of a real-world association will certainly increase the workload of your language school business.
Risk #4 Competition & Copycats Doing All The Same
If you are part of a community of an association sooner or later you will discover that there will be some expected standards of business practice and that often participating members are indeed competition.
So it will not come as a surprise that you will run the risk that other members might take advantage of playing copycat with what you currently do with your business.
Be sure to check before joining any association what the rules and expectations are.
Risk #5 Does The Association Benefit More From You Than You From Them?
While it sounds quite sexy and inviting to be part of an association, please reflect and pause before making the decision to join one. Every association is a business itself and of course, succeeds only by having paying members. No all associations are win-win connections.
Examine carefully and check if it is more beneficial for an association to have just as many members in order to sell them services and events to keep them busy. Is there a real true benefit that you language school can profit from long-term that actually exceeds any members fees or other obligations that come with being a member.
Benefit #1 Gain Fast Business Insights
By joining the right association you will have instant access to know knowledge pool that will certainly guarantee you with a lot of business insights and ideas that can help you to evaluate your own language business and how you compare what successful industry leaders are doing.
Benefit #2 Improve Your Reputation & Authority
Being associated and rubbing shoulders with others does not go unnoticed.
You might encounter helpful people to network with that have a win-win mindset and that are eager to learn from you in return.
The key is to combine being aware of potential threats while being open to new possibilities.
Benefit #3 Network To Find Talent
Make no mistake, not all of the members are your friends and never will be. Networking will lead to great friendships but also to some heavy competition and dislikes. This is a given.
Networking, however, is usually connecting people with each other and you might be able to find and hire talent for your own language business – people that you have otherwise never met.
Benefit #4 Become An Influencer Instead Just A Member
Instead of being a passive member of an association it is always the best to become active and an influencer yourself. You already have to commit energy, time and money being a member, why not step up the game and become someone that influences others instead of just following the crowd?
Benefit #5 Founding Your Own Association
Maybe it might be beneficial to start and control your own business association? It might be not as farfetched as you think it is. You might get some ideas from the article Should You Start Your Own Business Association?