For a little more than 70 years, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)printed and mailed a newsletter to members on a regular basis. It served its purpose well, but NECA retired it in May 2009 because it simply could not do what its replacement does.

Now, NECA members get more news faster in the form of an electronic newsletter delivered to our e-mail every week. The e-newsletter contains brief summaries of important developments with links to websites for additional information, so readers can dig deeper if they desire. This way, the electronic “NECA This Week” provides much more information than could be included in a four-page paper newsletter. That’s the kind of news and information most members want. And that’s why other NECA newsletters that address areas of special interest are delivered electronically, as well.

“NECA This Week” (or NTW, as the cool kids call it), often leads with an announcement of an upcoming webinar. Lately, NECA has been presenting two or three of these hour-long, live, Internet-based seminars every month. Each addresses a specific topic in safety, codes and standards, project management, and management education.

You can view recordings of some of the past webinars at www.necanet.org/education/conferences-workshops. That’s not quite the same as attending the original, interactive webcasts, but they’re still interesting and informative. And free!

Of course, NECA is not limiting the application of Internet-based communication technology to these 60-minute seminars. There are now a half-dozen courses in the NECA Management Education Institute’s On-Line Management series, including some (such as the new “NECA Electrical Grounding & Bonding” course) that are open to the entire industry. More are in development.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that these online educational opportunities are user-friendly and that contractors and their employees can peruse them at their convenience, whenever and wherever they choose. These are well researched, in-depth programs providing real learning and qualifying participants to earn credits for continuing education.

NECA also uses a variety of other digital and Web-based media for communicating with members and the public. First off, there’s our highly active main website (www.necanet.org). It’s where to get information about NECA, the membership and member services, and meetings and events. It’s also where to learn about our association’s work involving government affairs, safety and labor relations. And, it’s the place to obtain NECA publications, CDs and software and to take advantage of a substantial body of educational resources. To get an idea of the tremendous amount of material available, just check out the site map (through the link at the top of the opening page).

NECA maintains several websites in addition to the main site. For example, this magazine has an extensive one. Others include sites for the ELECTRI International research organization, NECA’s National Electrical Installation Standards, our Management Education Institute, and a special site for our annual convention and trade show. Go to www.necanet.org/about/sites for easy access to some of the most visited NECA-affiliated sites.

Other web presences include blogs (such as energy-solutions.necanet.org) and the sites this association operates in cooperation with industry partners. Nearly all the NECA-affiliated sites are accessible through NECAnet.org, with links provided in areas devoted to related subject matter.

I encourage you to visit. Though some of the material is password-protected “member-only” fare, much good information and valuable resources are made available to the entire industry through NECAnet.org and the other NECA sites. NECA is working hard to be valued globally as the source of cutting-edge industry research, knowledge and information.

If you use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can encounter NECA there, too. Over the past year, our association has established a strong presence on each of these sites. It wants to be present in as many channels as contractors and their customers regularly use. If you’d like to know more about it—and pick up some good tips on using social media to promote your own business—scroll down to the bottom of the opening screen at NECAnet.org and click on the link to “more information” under “Social Media.”

A lot of smart contractors are using websites and social media to promote their services and network with peers. NECA uses the Internet for the same purposes—and to deliver education and other resources and provide a sharper focus on areas and activities of special interest.