• Date: 3/2/2011

    How to Make the Most of Membership

    We have just signed up for membership of the Object Management Group for the second time in our company lifetime. (OMG is the not-for-profit consortium who defines standards for SysML, UML, CORBA etc.) The first time (nearly 10 years ago) admittedly, the membership was nothing more than a badge on our website and so this time around we were determined that we would all make the most of the opportunities open to us as a member. With everybody's diaries full and to-do lists running down to the floor, it's not natural to put being an active member of a group at top priority. So what simple steps can you take to benefit from a membership and make the most of your investment?
    Here's our checklist... 

    1. Know  who your key contacts are - Who do you go to for technical advice? Is there someone in the working for the organisation that has a particular interest in what you do and can offer you advice? What if you want to promote something to members, is there a Marketing manager?

    This is the first this I would suggest that you do. Understand who those key contacts are and then get to know them.

    Don't just use the badge on your signature!
    When we joined the OMG, we were speaking with the contacts in the US and then found out that their Technical Director was based in the UK near us so we invited him to spend the day with us, which proved to be invaluable. He spoke to the whole team about OMG and what was happening within the group so everyone at Objektum Solutions, both technical and otherwise, could see where they could get involved and be proactive about being a member. We also briefly went into the work we were doing on the Objektum Bridge Suite and automatic software migration, which the Technical Director was impressed with and is going to come back so he can understand more and continue building the relationship, which leads on to my next point...

    2. Make sure the organisation understands what you do! - Chances are, if you're interested in what they do, they'll be interested in what you do. Make sure that your contacts who work for the organisation are in a position to make valuable introductions and point you towards suitable opportunities.

    3. Flag their emails to read - Don't let the emails from your membership organisation join spam/marketing emails that end up in your mailbox. They're a good source of information so although with a full inbox it's tempting, don't ignore them.

    4. Get to know other members - Although at number 4, this is one of the most important points. Whether it is by attending events, joining in on online discussions, making specific introductions, meet people. If there's a members list, have a good look through it. Is there someone who you want to know?

    I think the trick with this is to be able to switch between having a purpose and being open, and you need to do both. (Essentially this point is about networking, but you've probably all seen your fair share of blog posts about how to be a top networker and make millions.)

    5. Directories - Have they got any directories you can put yourselves on? Simple point but don't forget to do it.

    6. If they have one, join their LinkedIn group - For international organisations this is invaluable for continuing discussions in-between events. At the very least, make sure you know what people are talking about. It will be a good indicator as to what is happening in your industry. (Sales people should be taking note of these conversations, not sending out millions of messages about how they can solve every problem that is being discussed. If appropriate, send a private message to the person with the problem and then let them decide whether they will tell the group about this amazing solution they've found. Believe me , this will have a lot more impact)

    7. Attend events - And not just those run by organisation, will they and fellow members be at the tradeshow you are going to? Do it the traditional way. Smile, shake some hands and have interesting conversation. Keep it fairly light at these kinds of events. If you want to get into more details arrange a time to have some 1-2-1 time over a coffee or find a time to meet at a later date.

    8. Help - What is the organisation trying to achieve? Can you help in anyway? Whether this is joining a committee or sharing resources, join forces with the organisation and your fellow members to strive for a common goal. This will help form bonds, open doors and raise your profile.

    9. Cross-marketing - Is there any way you can promote your product or service  to your fellow members (if this is also your market) by offering a special offer for members only? Membership organisations often get asked for comment on certain issues in the industry. Do they know that you're available to help them by providing comment from someone "in the industry"?

    10. Focus -  Don't spread yourself too thinly, limit your memberships to two to three groups and if you're in an organisation perhaps get different people involved in each group.

    There is a great deal to gain from being a member but remember that the members will make it and so put your effort in giving to the group, that's where the gains are.

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