Saturday, July 4, 2020

Check It Out Before You Join

Thinking about joining an association or networking group?  Remember that you are about to place a very talented person – you – in a key position, so look before you leap. Attend a couple of meetings – on line or in person - as a guest. Talk to new members and board members. Read several issues of the newsletter. Scan the membership directory. Before you hand over your – or your organization’s – money and commit your time, assess the group's potential value to you by answering these questions. 

  1. How many members are there? The bigger the better for networking, but it may be easier to move into leadership positions or gain visibility in other ways when you join a smaller group.
  2. Can I get excited about the group's mission? Will its activities help me reach my networking goals? Are people in the group likely to provide valuable resources or information?
  3. Are people in the group likely to need my product or service or to refer business to me? What do people say about the group? What's its reputation in the profession or community?
  4. What opportunities will the group offer me to associate with my peers? How about with the well-known gurus in the field?
  5. Does the group set a good networking culture by encouraging people to introduce themselves and talk to each other about important business and career challenges?
  6. Does the group have special activities to help newcomers feel welcome and meet people?
  7. How easy is it to participate? How quickly could I move into a leadership role that would give me visibility, access to best practices, and introductions to people I’d like to know?
  8. Do the leaders seem genuinely excited about their participation or are they playing "somebody has to do it?"
  9. Are the programs “cutting edge?” Do the topics and speakers provide valuable professional growth?  Will they offer best practices I can take back to my organization?
  10. What would my time commitment be? Can I make that commitment for at least one year?
  11. What exactly could I contribute to this group to become visible?
For more on making the most of your memberships, see our book, Strategic Connections: The New Face of Networking in a Collaborative World (Harper Collins Leadership). 

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