MAKE THE MOST OF THAT MEMBERSHIP
SEVEN ESSENTIAL ACTIONS TO ENSURE YOU
BENEFIT FROM ANY GROUP OR ORGANIZATION
If you make your living in business, you ought to get involved with groups or organizations in your area. This could include a professional or trade association related to your business. It could also be the chamber of commerce in your area or region. As well, it could be a service organization, such as a Rotary, Kiwanis or Lions Club. Or it could be a structured networking organization such as AmSpirit Business Connections, BNI or Gold Star.
Whatever the case, if you are an entrepreneur, sales representative or professional, membership in one or more of these groups and organizations is the perfect venue for exposing your business in the community. In addition, this is a surefire way to network yourself amongst others involved in the group or organization. Most importantly, in time, your membership will result in business coming your way.
Know this, however, membership alone is not enough. Membership merely gives you the opportunity. To take advantage of the opportunity and reap the benefits of membership, you need to undertake seven simple (but essential) actions.
CONSISTENTLY ATTEND: To ensure that you remain in the minds of your fellow members, plan to be in attendance as often as possible, if not all the time. While it is not reasonable to expect perfect attendance, when it comes to benefiting from your membership the old adage “out of sight; out of mind” could not be more true.
COME EARLY…STAY LATE: The most effective memberships are those where you are known, liked and trusted. In short, you need to establish a relationship or rapport. This can be difficult to achieve as organizations roll through the agenda in a timely manner. Thus, it is the time before and after the periodic meetings where you have the best opportunity to develop those one-on-one relationships with others.
ASSOCIATE BETWEEN MEETINGS: Even if your group or organization gathers on a weekly basis, there is a relatively vast time between meetings. You benefit most from your membership when you make productive use of this time. You can use occasional telephone calls or e-mails, informal luncheons, and other communication as a great way to solidify relationships with your fellow members.
GET INVOLVED: Answer this, “If you do not attend a meeting, will you be missed?” If your answer is anything but a resounding “YES,” you are not making the most of your membership. Get involved. Serve as an officer, a committee chair or generally just roll up your sleeves and get busy. Not only does this increase your exposure to other members, it serves to brand you as one who is committed to the general welfare of those around you..
PRESENT YOURSELVES WELL: Right or wrong, everything you say and do creates an impression. Knowing this, carefully conduct yourself. Act professionally. While you can employ humor, do so wisely. Choose your words carefully and tactfully. It is much easier to
think before you speak than to profusely apologize for something that came flying out of your mouth. Even make sure that what you are wearing is appropriate for the group and a reasonable representation of the image you want to project.
ADD VALUE TO OTHERS: People cannot help but like and support those who are helping them. Knowing this, you are wise to find ways to help your fellow members. You should look for opportunities to refer them to customers and clients. You should introduce them to people that might benefit them, such as strategic partners or reliable vendors. You should share with them any beneficial information related to their competitors or industry. Whatever you give, will ultimately come back to you.
BE PATIENT: You can realize a plethora of benefits from joining and becoming involved with groups and organizations. And you will find these benefits wonderfully worthwhile. Unfortunately, however, these benefits are seldom immediate. They take time to manifest themselves. Remember, these benefits are the result of strong, long-term relationships – the best of which you will forge over months and years of interaction.
In summary, if you belong to any number of groups or organizations, great. That is a wonderful means of gaining exposure for your business and networking yourself. If, however, you want to maximize the benefits associated with membership, reflect upon your actions and activities and measure them against the actions listed above. If you note deficiencies, take action … as that action will lead to wonderful benefits.