Why Be a Member? (Part 1)

There’s rarely a day that goes by where I don’t hear from someone in our industry explain how the demands on their time are continuing to accelerate (and pile up). So, the thought of adding one more activity to their busy calendar – especially if it involves an industry group like CII or CURT – may (for some) seem unbearable.  Really, why should the professionals in our industry cram time into their already too-hectic schedules to be involved in something like CII or CURT? Because, I believe, being engaged in an industry group might actually be the most important activity that an employee can do for themselves and for their organization.
According to American Business Magazine, 85 percent of all business failures occur in firms that are not members of their trade association. While I’m sure that there are many explanations behind this statistic – the reason that resonates most with me is the old adage that “you can’t innovate in a vacuum.” Understanding the wider context, challenges and opportunities of an industry can only happen when you are engaged with people and other organizations – including peers, competitors, and customers whether in your specific sector or in another. 
So, I’d like to share with you what I believe are the top benefits that you can gain as an individual by being a member of CII or CURT. As a follow-up in the next issue of the Voice, I am going to list what I feel are the key benefits your organization can realize as a result, so be on the lookout for Part 2! And, for those of you reading this article who don’t belong to CII or CURT (by the way, you should belong to both), I’d encourage you to relay these benefits to those around you to help you justify why your organization should participate:
Benefits for the Individual Employee – or, what will I gain that I can’t find on the internet?

  1. Develop Thought Leadership
99 percent of innovations are not unique, but rather, unique combinations of existing ideas.Being on a committee or research team or attending a conference exposes you to the newest ideas and approaches that you can build into something new, innovative, and valuable. Remember, there’s a lot of value for you amongst your colleagues for being the “go-to” guy or gal if you can apply the knowledge that you gained by engaging with CII and CURT.
  1. Networking and Building Trusting Relationships
I’ll admit that I don’t like the term “networking” because I generally equate that with “schmoozing” and other similarly negative behaviors.So, for me, that’s not a benefit.Instead, I prefer the fact that you can build trusting relationships. The big value here isn’t in the immediate – like winning a contract – but rather occurs when you least expect it or need it the most.I could provide countless examples, but the common theme here is that it’s amazing to witness what people in CII and CURT do to help each other out.
  1. Education and Learning
Certainly, there are educational benefits to attending webinars, courses and conferences. But, I think the main benefits are more subtle. Things like understanding how industry issues are perceived by peers provides an opportunity for you to learn and grow.Mentorship is another (whether traditional or reverse) – again, there’s always so much to learn when you have a diversity of people, thoughts and ideas present regarding different issues. Because, when you really understand the latest concepts, it often can provide you with a level of standing and reliability in the minds of your clients / customers (whether internal or external) that is invaluable.
In the U.S. alone, there are more than 7,800 industry associations, professional societies and labor groups.  Most are working to advance the careers of their volunteers and improve the performance of their member organizations. Without a doubt, the capital projects industry is amidst some tectonic shifts unlike anything in the past. Digitalization, globalization and changing workforce demographics are creating massive opportunities (and challenges) for organizations willing to understand and embrace these issues. I firmly believe the best place to prepare yourself and your company for what’s next is CII and CURT.  For those of you who continue to be actively involved, I offer my most heartfelt thanks!
Dr. Stephen Mulva, CII Director

Date posted: September 4, 2019