As a CPA, I know you have encountered at least the occasional, “CPA? Now what does that stand for again?” And when you say, “Certified Public Accountant” there is the inevitable, “Oh yes, you do taxes!”

For those innocents, we have to acknowledge that they associate taxes with CPA because that is relevant to most people. We know that the scope and breadth of what you do as a CPA extends far beyond April 15th. However, you now have an opportunity to build a relationship. It’s a starting point for beginning the conversation about how what you do as a CPA affects them. Voila! You are suddenly relevant to this person’s world.

Ok, so that is an extremely simplified scenario. My point is that you have to look for and seize opportunities to be relevant and successful. The same is true for associations and by extension association staff. I’ll admit I don’t wake each morning with the immediate thought, “How can the Society fulfill its mission by providing the most value to members?” However, at some point in my morning preparation I think about my challenges for the day and subconsciously or not, consider how I can provide members with reasons that they must be a member and not just that they should be a member. In short, how is the Society relevant to members?

This is not a unique thought, every association is challenged with the question of relevance; there are articles, classes and books dedicated to the topic for association staff. Every business and organization shares the relevance challenge in some way.

Since the first association-like group formed in the 1600s, belonging to a group provided several common areas of value to members. Thousands of trade and professional associations across time and around the world have provided information and knowledge pertinent to member’s professions. But consider in today’s world of unprecedented access through technology and rapid change that affects the way we work, live and even think, what makes access to information unique or valuable?

An important benefit of belonging to an association has been and continues to be bringing like minds together to share ideas and solve problems. The way groups accomplished this evolved continuously, and today changes at an incredible speed, but it is still a major value to members. The seemingly side benefit to this gathering is found in relationships that are created and the shared experiences that go with relationships. Your company is successful because of the business relationships that exist in the organization, clients are with you because you built a relationship with them; when you think about it, any human interaction becomes relevant through the relationship and shared experiences.

In my role with the Society I have the privilege of working on a daily basis with professionals who are passionate about and committed to their clients, the profession and the Society. Member leaders in the Society, CPAs like you, collectively bring all of their skills, innovation, and perspectives gained through diverse experiences together to make the Society relevant to all CPAs in Indiana. Sure they take calculated risks, courageously challenge standard models, and resolutely drive change to solve problems for the profession. But at the end of the day, when members think about their involvement in the Society, they think about relationships. The friends they have made, the personal and professional experiences they shared and the things they learned about friend and foe when tackling an issue are what most people find valuable.

So as a member of the Society, where does this leave you?  It leaves you with the challenge of considering how you can gain the most value from belonging to the Society and how you can leverage your membership into developing strong relationships with other members that will help you be successful as a CPA.