In the previous post, I started you on the path of building your network with professional memberships. Next, I want to tackle the benefits of such memberships and affiliations. If you’re not yet a member of any professional organizations, think of this post as an overview of the benefits you can reap.
If you’re already a member of professional organizations, are you maximizing your membership dollars to build your network and expand your circle of influence?
5 Easy Ways to Maximize Your Membership Dollars
Use the membership directory to cross promote, build your network, and advertise. Some organizations post a directory online and make it accessible to members and non-members. Others include their directory in their monthly e-blasts to members and non-members. Some organizations publish a hard copy directory, which gets distributed locally and regionally. All of these distribution outlets afford you an opportunity for exposure.
Often times, there are spotlight opportunities, whereby you can showcase your business to hundreds or sometimes thousands of professionals, who may become networking partners or clients. Some organizations use a spotlight moment as a part of their events, and some will include a spotlight on a new member in their publications. Put yourself and your business in the spotlight!
Does the organization have sponsorship opportunities available? Events you can sponsor? Can you apply to be a speaker or host venue for the event? If your company is a sponsor, your company’s logo and website will probably be featured on the organization’s website. You may be able to use a cross-promotional banner on your own website or blog. There are usually different levels of sponsorships, so choose (or get creative and offer) a level that works within your budget.
Does the organization have committees you can join? Committees are a marketing goldmine, but not in the overt way you might think. These committees may afford you an opportunity to network both inside and outside the organization. In other words, give you an icebreaker or a conversation starter.
You may also use your committee participation as an opportunity to demonstrate your skill set. When you take part on committees, you naturally show your strengths as a thought-leader, team player, industry expert, meeting facilitator, public speaker, etc. In addition, you may have the opportunity to strengthen your abilities in areas in which you may not currently excel. In other words, learn to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
Leverage the Brand
As a member of a professional organization you have built-in leverage, an automatic conversation starter. For example, I’m a sponsorship chair for an industry-specific international charitable event. So I basically have an excuse to call any firm or vendor affiliated with my industry.
Talk about a HUGE promotional opportunity! Because I have a legitimate reason to call on companies, and not just push sales, I can usually get a decision-maker on the phone. Not too shabby huh? All because I’m a member of a professional organization and I voluntarily joined a committee.
I know you have a few organizations in mind that you have wanted to take a look at and potentially join. Make an educated decision to find the right organizations worthy of your time and money. Then integrate the benefits of your membership into your marketing plan to maximize those membership dollars!