One of the most frequent laments of association members is their lack of influence with the power centers in their organizations and industries.

“The C-Suite doesn’t understand what we do….doesn’t listen to us…doesn’t value us.”

“We want a seat at the table…or at least to be present in the room when decisions are made.”

This year alone I’ve heard this lament from an array of association leaders in different professions and industries. Many do have an essential expertise, that if absent, would be missed in their organizations. Increasingly they find people with different expertise are placed in senior positions over them—signaling their role and discipline is now subordinate to other priorities.

To gain this missing respect and recognition, they could try one or all of these three strategies:

  1. Be really good at what you do. Take full advantage of professional development, leadership opportunities and credentialing your association offers to position yourself as a highly qualified expert in your field. This is a hallmark of professionalism. Earn the respect of a network of peers who do understand what you do and carry that knowledge and confidence back into your organization.
  2. Be the leader in the multidisciplinary team. Individuals who can both master their own discipline and communicate well with other disciplines are in high demand, especially in science, technology and medicine. The edges of most professions are blurring, creating opportunities for people who can navigate this new landscape and assemble solutions out of the gifts of many.
  3. Be the futurist in your organization. People in power need advisors who can anticipate changes ahead and alert them to potential risks and strategic opportunities. They know they need this business intelligence but rarely have enough time to scout the future or make sense of what they find. With so much change and uncertainty, professionals who can filter the high-impact changes from the noise will have the grateful ear of their top leadership.

A good strategy creates opportunities and preserves options in multiple situations. If respect still eludes you despite these good strategies, use your new super powers to contribute elsewhere. You will have the knowledge and network behind you, the proven people skills to do amazing work, and the ability to see opportunities where others only see uncertainty.