Charles Jones Blog

I have long been a believer in the benefits that memberships in, and support of, industry trade associations provide to businesses. Trade association events represent opportunities to stay ahead of trends, learn of potential regulatory issues, and network among peers all working in the same space.

To me, it creates opportunities for companies to transcend barriers and work in concert with competitors toward shared goals to elevate an “industry” to a community. I’m a people-person, so networking has been one of the most compelling reasons for me to attend events sponsored by such groups. However, this year, given the pandemic, it has been somewhat of a challenge to reap these benefits.

Some associations have cancelled events, others rescheduled into next calendar year, and still some chose a digital experience. The latter I find intriguing.

Like business and government entities, associations have reimagined how to support their members and industry without the benefit of in-person events. This has led to much innovation for these associations and groups with different ways to provide education, and conferences online. For example, both the New Jersey Land Title Association and the Pennsylvania Land Title Association have gone exclusively online with their continuing education in order to continue to serve their members’ credit’s needs.
In addition, shows that I normally attend in person have gone virtual and this includes the American Land Title Association’s ALTA One and the Pennsylvania Land Title Association Annual Convention.

While Continuing Education has demonstrated that a video-conferenced instructor has been able to share the same knowledge (and arguably with a larger audience given that the travel time to and from a physical event is now off the table), I will be very curious to see how the networking aspect of these shows will work. Meeting, or furthering relationships online, as opposed to in-person has, and will have, its challenges. But the more I think about it, I realize we have so many relationships that are sustained almost strictly online. Consider your Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter connections. How many of these people do you ever see in person? Once a year, twice maybe? Some probably virtually never.

The digital conference may offer a similar experience. It won’t be better or worse. It will be different. Check back in October after both ALTA One and the PLTA Annual Convention for my blog that will discuss my take on virtual networking. Meanwhile, what do you think?

By Patrick T. Roe, General Manager

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