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Article published in Issue Number: 061201

The gist of joining industry associations

By J. David Siembieda, CrossCheck Inc.

Industry trade association membership presents a valuable opportunity for business growth and development to ISOs and merchant level salespeople. Associations provide members access to educational resources, conferences and tradeshows throughout the year. They are also an excellent forum for exchanging information and keeping abreast of trends in technology and new product introductions.

Another obvious benefit of trade association membership is networking. Whether you join one or several trade organizations, you'll have an opportunity to meet other professionals with whom you share common interests.

Milk the moment

How do you get the most out of these associations? At tradeshows and conferences, set up a table with sales literature displayed and a portable tabletop booth or signage as a backdrop. Introduce new products, pass out business cards, or treat your clients to a lunch or drinks.After each show, pursue new leads, preferably within 72 hours. If follow-up is delayed, your contacts will move on to more pressing business matters and be less receptive to your message.

As a member, list your business in your association's resource guide, and take advantage of discounts on classes and publications. Also, most organizations offer a membership list to members. Obtain the list, and start introducing yourself to other members at meetings or by phone, mail or the Internet. Be sure to include your trade association affiliations on your advertising, including your Web site.

Be a beacon

Establishing contact with other trade association members creates visibility, a necessary precursor to building credibility and, eventually, profitability as your business expands. Regardless of the methods you use to contact other members, be consistent.

Focus on your top two or three areas of expertise in all communications. Over time, others will come to recognize you for these attributes, which can lead to additional sales opportunities or even speaking engagements.

It's important to remember that relationships cultivated through business organizations can have a long-lasting impact on your professional career, provided you maintain them properly. Ongoing contact with key business associates can forge strong alliances and spur others to refer to you those who need your services.

Ogle the options

Membership fees among payments industry associations vary. Some base fees on business classification and size. Others do not have a membership base and receive their primary funding through event sponsorships. Most are nonprofit organizations.

One of the largest trade associations in our industry is the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), an international organization, serving over 500 providers of transaction processing products and services. It offers education, advocacy and a forum for information exchange.

The ETA hosts an annual spring meeting and expo where members and guests can mingle, exchange information, attend classes and workshops, and participate in other planned activities.

Industry executives volunteer on various ETA committees, and board members are invited to a strategic leadership and networking forum to discuss important issues affecting the payments industry. This organization also has an active government relations segment devoted to representing member interests and issues at the regulatory level.

NACHA - The Electronic Payments Association also plays a visible role in self-regulatory matters. NACHA develops operating rules and business practices for the automated clearing house network, as well as for electronic payments in the areas of Internet commerce and electronic solutions. This improves payment systems for members and their customers.

Rely on regions

NACHA also has regional divisions. For example, Western Payments Alliance (WesPay) serves businesses in the western states, while EastPay serves the southeastern states.

In addition, our industry has four regional acquirers' associations: Midwest Acquirers' Association, Northeast Acquirers' Association, Southeast Acquirers' Association, and the Western States Acquirers' Association. These nonprofit organizations rely on sponsorship of their annual and semiannual meetings, which offer relevant and timely seminars.

Each association serves as a networking vehicle and educational forum for financial institutions and professionals involved in the acquiring industry. Check The Green Sheet regularly for other worthwhile organizations and events. Participation in trade associations can result in lifelong business relationships and even friendships. Whether on a national or regional scale, get involved. It's good for your business and important to the future of the payments industry.

J. David Siembieda has been the President and Chief Executive Officer of CrossCheck Inc., a national check approval and guarantee provider, for over five years. He has more than 15 years of experience in the check services field. He serves on the board of directors for the Electronic Transactions Association and the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. He is the Chairman for the ETA's Membership Committee and is also a member of NACHA's Electronic Check Council.

CrossCheck has been at the forefront of check authorization services and technology since its inception in 1983. For more information on marketing check services and CrossCheck, please call 800-654-2365 or e-mail

Article published in issue number 061201

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