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Associations Working on a Global Scale: Opportunities & Challenges for Growth


Every day associations are looking for ways to take advantage of being part of a global community for growing their membership, programs and services. Similarly to working on a national level, many professionals are aware of the benefits and challenges that are further enlarged when working on a global scale. Most notable paradigms of doing business internationally include:

  • The global exchange of knowledge
  • The opportunity to learn more on how the industry works in different countries for both members and conference attendees
  • The significantly increased networking opportunities with members of global associations

But apart from the evident growth opportunities when working globally, there are also challenges that require careful planning and thoughtfulness in order to be successful in the long-run. Here are some of the most notable ones:

  • Cultural perceptions

It is easy to become accustomed to how decisions are made, time is managed and conversations take place when living and working in the same state or region. However abroad there are almost always differences in the pace of life and ways to conduct business. These differences are magnified when working globally and your association’s staff need to establish clear communication with all stakeholders, as speaking and writing clearly and succinctly is central to achieving success.

Hello on Blackboard

  • Multiple time zones

When working globally, setting up a phone call becomes much more difficult because the participant’s time zones span an eight (or more) hour time difference. Using a reliable tool to make sure you have the correct times for everyone is imperative.

The world map was traced and simplified in Adobe Illustrator on 15JULY2015 from a copyright-free resource below:

  • Industry standards

Industry standards and terms aren’t consistent around the world either. For example, terms such as high-tops, crescent rounds, podiums, and stages are commonly understood by US meeting planners. Globally, many of these “industry standard” terms have different meanings.

Working in a global arena can provide an association with exciting new opportunities but also critical challenges. It is extremely important for associations to evaluate their strategies and capabilities to ensure that global growth will be a rewarding effort. MCI is in a unique position to manage these challenges for any association through its affiliate group brands and local offices around the world. Our global workforce of nearly 2,000 professionals worldwide operating in 60 cities across 31 countries and network of global partners provides clients with unique access to a wide array of services and products that operate in the same countries that they hold their events.

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