Do you want to build new connections in your job industry and expose yourself to new marketing opportunities? You should consider joining a Black or minority contractors association. These associations dedicate their time and money toward voicing the concerns of Black professionals and advocating for equal contingency of success for contractors of color.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider becoming a member of a Black/minority contractors association:

Collaborative push against discrimination in the industry and workplace

It is no secret that racial discrimination goes on in almost every American job sector. The construction industry is no exception. As a minority contractor, you may find it difficult to stand up on your own against racial prejudices that you may face while working, out of fear of hurting your company’s reputation and losing business. Being a member of a minority contractors association can give you the backing and support you may need to speak out. It can also provide you with tools and advice on how to properly respond to these types of issues from people who have actually experienced it.

Exclusive job opportunities and funding

Many construction clients go straight to a minority contractors association to search for bids in effort to support Black-owned businesses and contractors, especially now in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. You may receive jobs that you wouldn’t have known about if you weren’t a member of the association. There may also be opportunities to receive funding in the form of grants from organizations and individuals that want to provide assistance to Black-owned businesses.

Network with colleagues that have similar professional and personal experiences

As much as you may have in common with your colleagues of other races, “working while Black” has its own unique experiences. Being part of a Black/minority contractors association allows you to establish relationships with people that look like you, and therefore may have dealt with some of the same business challenges. This is especially important if you are new to the industry or moving your business to a new location. Along with general counsel and support from all colleagues, your colleagues of color may be able to better prepare you for your specific path. This is also a great way to find mentors and mentees.

Exclusive marketing opportunities and resources

As stated before, membership with an association can serve as a place to market your business and obtain leads that are only offered within that association. In addition to that, many Black/minority contractors associations will host several conventions where you can go and advertise your business without feeling out of place. You will also have the opportunity to see other Black-owned business vendors that you can potentially partner with to help your own business.

Access to education and training tailored to you

Most contractors associations offer apprenticeship training programs. These programs offer career-specific, hands-on curriculum and training, similar to what you would study if you attend a vocational or trade school. More uniquely, many Black/minority contractors associations also have programs for inner-city youth that prepare them for pursuing a trades career. Your knowledge of and access to these resources could be the difference between a younger family member getting a head start in a secure career.

There are many Black/minority contractors associations to choose from. They can be as broad as a national associations, or they can be as small and specific as an association for your city. Business association memberships can sometimes be costly, so make sure you do your research to find which one offers the most resources that will benefit you and give you your money’s worth.