Connecting the industry’s leading distributors, manufacturers and reps to share best practices among peers, on a regular basis, is a powerful formula for success. The CONNECT programs that launched earlier this year have started this process. Unfortunately, the limitations of time, travel and budget faced by businesses have resulted in the limited success in expanding our peer-to-peer networking efforts.

ASA’s Executive Committee is still committed to building a robust peer networking program that provides strong value to members, and it is excited about a revised concept of offering an online CONNECT opportunity. In working with Jason Bader, and The Distribution Team, and based on a proven facilitation concept, like-function peers will meet online monthly to discuss issues and challenges faced by group members. Through a monthly, online-facilitated one-hour virtual group session, members will have the opportunity to discuss problems and offer solutions in an open and confidential session among non-competing peers. “We believe that ASA’s CONNECT communities will give professionals, in specific vital job functions, the ability to meet virtually each month, to discuss common challenges and provide practical solutions,” ASA CEO Mike Adelizzi said.  “It will give our members the opportunity to engage their key employees in highly valuable peer-to-peer sessions without the time and cost of traveling to a session, and it can be an exciting added value to our Women in Industry and Emerging Leaders groups that want to meet each other more than once a year.”

Many peer coaching solutions, such as Vistage or EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization), focus on the development of business owners or presidents. However, we believe there is a need for a networking solution for those serving in critical roles directly below the president, and the CONNECT sessions will offer professionals a peer interaction forum that would be most beneficial.

The goals of CONNECT are threefold:

  1. Develop solutions to common challenges through online-facilitated interaction with peers of the same job function.
  2. Provide an efficient, exclusive and economical online forum for professionals to build relationships with their peers.
  3. Create value for association members by building deeper relationships within ASA. 

Before launching this program to the general membership, ASA is conducting three CONNECT focus groups over a three month period to test the value of this new concept. The association’s Women in Industry and Emerging Leaders divisions are participating with the pilot.

Based on a successful pilot, the association’s leadership expects to launch this revised CONNECT program in early 2020, and believes it will offer members exciting new benefits in finding “out-of-the-box” solutions to common problems through these exciting online peer communities.