After many years spent running a business I have learned a variety of useful lessons. First and foremost is that surrounding yourself with successful people increases your chance of success. It’s a no-brainer.

I consider myself to have many successful friends, colleagues and peers. I seek out like-mind people and feed off their excitement and energy. I hope that is reciprocated in spades from me.

That’s why I believe that joining the Performance Marketing Association is another building block to success. This is a trade association of industry leaders that, like me, want to collectively act to move the performance marketing space forward to reach its ultimate growth potential.

As member I have the opportunity to influence policies and standards; work with super-smart people that have amazing ideas and combat practices that threaten to stunt industry growth.

The best part is that the PMA is not only a collection of thought leaders and big influential companies, but it is also comprised of a diverse group of people – there are search experts, affiliate marketing agencies, publishers, retailers from a range of verticals, networks, CPA folks and more.

Having this diversity channeled positively means that I get to see things from a variety of perspectives, which help me better understand all points of view and the impact decisions have on the industry as a whole.

When the PMA first launched in 2008 I joined immediately. I saw the need for such an organization, but also acknowledged that past association efforts had failed (too many agendas, bad timing, etc.) so I was hesitantly optimistic. But if the group was going to fail it wasn’t going to be because I showed apathy. Instead, I chose to take action.

In addition, I saw the great value (and potential) of the PMA, when in 2010, several states considered enacting laws that would negatively impact affiliates. The PMA organized grass roots efforts in all these states. The PMA advised affiliates on testifying at hearings, created emails to be sent to legislators and ultimately battled back many of these bills that would have put tens of thousands of affiliates out of business. But this fight is nowhere near over and the PMA continues to champion the cause for affiliates.

I experienced the PMA power first-hand when the so-called “Amazon Tax” was proposed in Colorado. PMA executive director Rebecca Madigan attended all the hearings, coordinated efforts and offered support to anyone (member or not) that needed guidance in navigating the complex political system.  It wasn’t easy but the PMA managed to help negotiate a compromise that benefitted affiliates.

More recently, I am pleased to have seen those efforts be recognized and even applauded by the industry at large. People are now getting the value of the PMA and it is blossoming into an effective trade association – albeit one that runs lean and mean. It’s pretty much just Rebecca Madigan, a board of directors that is unpaid, and the occasional out sourcing of tasks to contractors as needed.  This is not a fat cat group of elitists spending member money wastefully.

Offering your support in the form of member dues as well as an active participant is a way to guarantee that the performance marketing industry flourishes and that we continue to promote the ethical practices that benefit us all.

So all you influencers out there, let’s get more publishers and vendors involved. But just as important are the merchants. Let’s get the people you market for and are involved with to understand the importance of the PMA and get them to join. Let’s make it a goal for 2011 to make this association as broad and influential as possible.

Joining a working group is one way to get involved. There are several groups that members can participate in to exact change, form standards and implement best practice guidelines.

You can also learn more about the grassroots efforts to stop legislation and get involved on that front. Even if these types of laws have not come up in your state – they will eventually and it’s best to be prepared. It’s a lesson we’ve learned over the last two years.

The main thing is to join the PMA, get involved and surround yourself with others that are committed to the success of the performance marketing space. Success breeds success.