C-Suite Network™

The benefits of joining a professional association

Want to be discovered by those you serve?

Discover them by joining their groups and associations.

I never felt so naked in my life. 

I kept repeating that sentence to myself, as well as relaying it to anyone who asked, “how’s your Influence experience going?”

Influence is the big daddy conference held annually for the National Speakers Association, and I attended this year’s installment in Denver – not as a photographer, but as a participant.

To give you a little perspective, this was the first time ever that I’ve attended a conference without a camera or the intention of working behind a lens.


And yeah, it was uncomfortable. 

To the point that I made that known to all of my colleagues from the local NYC Chapter when they checked-in with me in between breakout sessions or lunch. 

But, I’m not bringing this up to further shine a light on my shyness – that’s an obnoxiously long conversation for another day!

Despite how weird and uncomfortable I felt walking the halls without my camera, I knew I was in the right place talking to the right people for several reasons.

First of all, speakers and authors are my people.

Not just because they’re the group I serve with my specialized attention behind a camera.

But because they’re amazing artists with skills that I respect and admire.

I am inspired by people who tell stories – impactful, entertaining, thought-provoking and game-changing stories- for a living. 

And I was surrounded by these storytellers for 4 days, soaking in a wide variety of conversations.

Now, some people might say, “well, I follow these people on social media. I already learn what I need from what I read there.”

Sure, you can learn a lot while listening to conversations on social media, no doubt about that.

But, when you’re face-to-face with someone over the course of a couple of days, a certain level of rapport and connection happens that simply cannot happen over a computer. 

You’re sharing an experience together in person, which opens up the honesty floodgates a little wider than engaging a blog article or social media post.

Conversations with fellow association attendees affords you a variety of benefits.

Benefit #1 – intelligence-gathering mission

Although I am not a professional speaker, I attended a bunch of breakout sessions for professional speakers and trainers.

Rather than apply this information to my business specifically, I can use the keywords, phrases and other speaker-centric jargon in my content that I share with speakers, authors, and other expert-based businesses. 

The idea is that if I leverage the verbiage used by the top speakers in the industry, it will help create visibility for my own services because the messages will resonate more deeply. 

In addition to the actual language being used, I also took a laundry list of notes related to other aspects of the business of professional speaking:

  • What other revenue streams do they look to create
  • What marketing strategies and tactics to employ to help raise their speaker fees
  • What types of technology to use to help improve their keynotes

These and many other topics were covered during the conference. 

This type of information is invaluable to me because I now have a unique opportunity to talk about how my services can help them solve these particular challenges.

Benefit #2 – Understand the different levels of clients

While at Influence, I immediately noticed that not every speaker is starring on the same playing field. 

Now, I didn’t need to hop on a plane to find that out.

But, when you’re in conversation with a young speaker starting out and, 5 minutes later, chatting with a CSP, I’m able to quickly understand how some of my services are best tailored for certain levels of clients. 

And more importantly, how to tailor the messaging to attract those types of clients to that specific service and session.

Benefit #3 – Deeper connections with people you already know

While building relationships online is an important aspect of your online presence, the goal is to get those relationships off-line and happening in real life. 

This fact was never more evident than when I was at the conference. 

As I mentioned earlier, I had my challenges initiating conversations with new people and shared this openly with colleagues that I knew. 

To my surprise, they reciprocated their own feelings by sharing with me their own anxieties, frustrations and overwhelm.  

These are extremely successful keynotes, and through these conversations, I realized that no matter what level you achieve, fear, regret, imposter syndrome, and doubt are real emotions that need to be dealt with over and over again. 

I was shocked at some of the stories I heard but was extremely appreciative because they opened themselves up to me in a way that would have never happened had we started an email chain or direct message banter. 

It’s through these revealing, yet cathartic, conversations that strengthened the relationships I have with these speakers, and I feel like the professional relationship has graduated to a more personal one. 

At the end of the day, I aim to work only with professionals that I would consider to be my friends, so, this is precisely why I was thankful for having the opportunity to be in this position. 

When you’re looking to build an expert-based business that serves a specific niche, you need to go where they hang out – digitally and in real life. 

Although the investment can be steep, the benefits are magical.

After all, what’s it worth to your business to engage a room full of your ideal clients face-to-face?


John DeMato is a NYC branded lifestyle portrait photographer and storytelling strategist who serves speakers, authors, coaches and high-level entrepreneurs across the country. His 50+ page e-book, S.H.A.R.E. M.A.G.I.C.A.L. I.D.E.A.S., lays out the how, what and why behind creating a memorable and referable online presence – sign up to get your FREE copy today.

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