Blogger: Stephanie Selesnick, President of International Trade Information, Inc.

CTA™ – the owners of CES International, the largest exhibition in the United States and UFI member, is known for doing innovative things – one of which directly answers the above question. They have a mentor program offered as a free benefit of association membership. “For small business owners and entrepreneurs, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Mentor Program pairs you with a mentor company who can give advice to help guide your company or improve your business acumen.”

CTA is very clear throughout the application process that this program is set up to help CTA members clear a hurdle – not to pitch the mentors during their allotted half hour confidential session. On the application, mentees are asked to explain the general issue or concern they need help with.

The way the Mentor Program works is pretty simple. After applications are received, they are disseminated to all of the mentors who have expertise in solving whatever problem or issue the mentee has. Those mentor(s) who decide they can help, either contact the mentee directly or the association provides the mentee with the mentor’s contact information and bio.

This program is great because it helps take new and fledgling companies – or companies experiencing growth pains – solve problems and grow with free advice they probably could not/cannot afford.

As we all know, most exhibition growth comes from new and up-and-coming companies. They are the ones who, as they grow, take more space and buy sponsorships. With a few exceptions, smaller entrepreneurial companies are the drivers of innovation and change within all of our industries.

Many UFI members are not associations, but are industry leaders. How can your organization help nurture its next generation?