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Sep 01 2018
What's in Your Tool Bag?
Allen Vickers, CCE, A & K Railroad Materials

It is impossible to ignore that the internet, electronic devices, and social media have an overshadowing presence in our personal and professional lives - and it is still growing.

Can you recall the last time you saw a student consulting an encyclopedia? Today there is such a wealth of information stored electronically that it would exceed 4,500 stacks of books from the earth to the sun, which is 93 million miles away!

In the summer of 1995 Amazon sold its 1st book in the garage of Jeff Bezos. Today Amazon has more warehouse square footage than 700 Madison Square Gardens.

How many of us shopped on-line 15 years ago? Today look how on-line shopping has been the death of or severely impacted many traditional brick and mortar stores.

It is crazy to think that a person would have had to remain still for 8 hours to have a picture taken by the 1st camera invented. Last year 75% of photos taken were shot by some type of phone that provided an instant picture.

Not so long-ago single people met in church, schools, clubs, and bars. Today 1 out of 8 married couples met on the internet. 

Also consider these facts:

38 years - the time it took radio to reach an audience of 50 million people                       
13 years  - the time it took television to reach an audience of 50 million people                       
3 years  - the time it took iPod to reach an audience of 50 million people
2 years  - the time it took Facebook to reach an audience of 50 million people 
$680 worth of transactions are made every second on eBay
1,530,000 - the number of orders per hour Amazon processes on its busiest day 
35,000,000,000  - the number of monthly searches on Google 

60,000,000,000 - the number of emails sent daily - 97% of which are spam

With such a tidal wave of electronic data and communications available how does a professional association stay relevant?

A professional association can be defined as an organization designed to represent the interests of certain professional practitioners. Certainly, NACM then remains relevant in numerous areas, including education, networking, mentoring, and credit reporting.

Still there is one segment which the Affiliates of NACM offer that combines all of the previously mentioned benefits and routinely surpasses the information available on the internet and that is Industry Credit Groups.

The industries participating in NACM are as varied as there are opinions. No matter what industry you are in NACM will have a local or national group in which pertains to your profession.

In these group settings there is always so much to gain from other credit professionals. Perhaps Helen Keller put it best "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."

More than just strength in numbers, NACM Groups affords the opportunity to learn and keep growing. One of the reasons for that is the way members are engaged with each other. It can make one feel directionally challenged just trying to figure out if some members are 'paying back' to the organization through their service to others, or if they are 'paying it forward' by laying the foundations for others to build upon.

Having been a part of the National Railroad Industry Group for almost 25 years, I have seen over and over again the value of this association. There are guest speakers that add to my education, there are credit exchanges that add to my knowledge about customers, but it is the relationships with other members that add to my trust and confidence in the information that is discussed in our meetings or the credit references obtained outside of the meetings from members. After all, I value much more the debtor experience from a group member versus a credit reference from an unknown vendor or  customer-supplied that may contain self-supplied data.

Being a participating member of an Industry Credit Group is akin to getting a Bad Debt Vaccination -- it is still possible to become ill once in a while but the chances of it happening and the severity of it are greatly diminished!

If you are not participating in an Industry Group, you owe it to others to share your talents and you will find that the gains will greatly outweigh the effort you put into it. Each of us recognizes that the internet, electronic devices, and social media are part of our professional tool bag, but you need to discover, if you haven't done so, why Industry Groups is one of the most useful tools.