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January 04, 2016

DSA News

Strength in Numbers: The Value of Association

by Nancy M. Burke

Click here to order the January 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Did you know that, after the federal government, trade associations are the second-largest employer in the Washington, D.C., area? Despite this impressive fact, many people, however, actually do not know what a trade association is, or does. But we at DSA definitely do.

The definition of a trade association is an organization founded by a specific industry to support, champion and grow that industry. And the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA) is the epitome of a flourishing trade association. From providing actionable industry intelligence and professional development opportunities, to the tools a company needs to demonstrate the most ethical of operating standards, DSA has been guiding, strengthening, lobbying and advocating on behalf of its members for more than 100 years.

The direct selling culture is unique in that executives are so keen to share their knowledge across the industry, viewing those from other companies not as competitors but as colleagues. I frequently hear stories of executives helping one another out. Many view it as a way to “pay it forward,” grateful for the critical information they received along the way. Learning from the successes and failures of others helps build a strong industry, and that really is the true value of DSA membership.

I have personally gained knowledge, inspiration and mentoring from many member executives from around the country. Want to know what I’m talking about? Join DSA and then log in to the members-only section of in order to view the great “CEOs In Focus” podcast series, found under the member benefits tab. Launched for the membership in 2015, the series features DSA President Joe Mariano speaking to leading direct selling CEOs on a very personal level as he brings “Charlie Rose” style conversations to our industry.

But it is not just company executives who are passing on their wisdom. Our channel’s sense of camaraderie can be found everywhere. Here at DSA in Washington, D.C., there is always a dedicated team to call upon. The DSA staff is a ready resource for member companies, both large and small, and they are keen to answer your questions and point you in the direction of the DSA programs and services that you need most to build a better business. For example, DSA’s Code of Ethics, the self-regulatory framework governing ethical business practices, is the cornerstone of DSA’s commitment to consumer protection. With adherence to the Code’s robust policies, DSA members receive the guidance they need to demonstrate the highest ethical operating standards that set them apart in the marketplace.

And when a DSA member needs a software, supplier or fulfillment partner to service their company’s requirements, they need look no further than DSA Suppliers. Many of these partners have served as Supplier Exhibitors at DSA’s Annual Meeting and offer a wealth of trusted industry experience. And remember, if we can’t answer your question, we’ll find out who can and put you in touch. Nothing is more important to DSA than the community it serves and the meaningful connections it provides.

As new membership applications roll in and we gear up for 2016 renewals, the association continues in its mission to provide the most industry-relevant and comprehensive benefits for members new and old. Looking ahead, there are many more lessons to learn and connections to make, and this can happen for you in a variety of ways, whether at exclusive, member-only DSA events, where you can meet and network with fellow members and member-supplier companies; through job postings on the DSA Career Center; or even by participating on a DSA committee or council.

While you may still be in the process of closing your books for 2015, you can pledge to stand with us again in 2016. We’re here to empower you with the tools and resources you need to build a better business. But remember, an association is only as strong as its membership, so help us to help you by standing with us. I hear time and again that DSA applicants’ only regret is that they didn’t join sooner…

Nancy M. Burke is Vice President, Membership, at the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA).Nancy M. Burke is Vice President, Membership, at the U.S. Direct Selling Association (DSA).