Mention your professional association at happy hour and watch people squirm. Within our work circles, nothing brings on the wistful "if only I had more time" excuse faster. Actually, it's not an excuse, it's real. Attending events is one thing-- and that's great-- but getting involved in driving and shaping the agenda and priorities is another entirely.
Involvement beyond membership in your professional association (typically conferences) can be hugely rewarding but a time sink if you're not on your best defensive game when chatting up the volunteer board. In addition to being exceptionally talented, nice, good looking (and humble), they're constantly in recruiting mode trying to find extra hands to help.
I wanted to share some thoughts on how to get involved but manage your time in a way that benefits both you professionally, as well as, the organization. When members are actively engaged, programming is better, conversations are richer, and networking opportunities are expanded. With that goal in mind, here are a couple of things you can do to help in an hour or less.
- Speak! All organizations want quality programs. Good topics and good speakers keep members interested and energized. Quality goes up when there are more topics to pick from a diverse speaker set. So, what are you waiting for? Volunteer to present a topic on which you already have the slides handy. Easy.
- Share some tech love. Technology savvy in any way? Good for you. Chances are that your board is not. They've been busy solving the world's other big problems. If your social skills extend to social media, even better. Share your tips by hosting a short "how to" for the board and event committee. Most associations aren't leveraging all of the tools available to them-- no shocker there. The people with the passwords need help updating their site, generating invites and event registrations, posting clever, enticing status updates to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and setting up massive online meetings and conference calls, etc.
- Reserve a table for two. At the next scheduled event, bring a friend. Better yet, bring a gaggle of colleagues from your office and use the association event as a team building exercise. Some will like it, some will be bored. That's ok. Membership recruiting is never done. We always want more.
- Save your links. For a week or so, save the links for topical articles that you find most interesting or relevant to your business. Then, send this list to the board for distribution to the membership (or go direct if you have access to the group). One of the greatest things members can do for each other is to help curate the ocean of information and resources out there on any given topic. These book, article, and blog references are especially critical in times of change. Consider creating a designating tab on the association site for recommended reading.
- Say cheese. Offer to take pictures at the next big event. No fancy editing needed, just snap and send. The board and event committees like to have photos on hand for use in future marketing.
- Be a greeter for a day. Have a little extra time to help check people in at the next event? There is literally no better way to meet everyone in attendance than to control nametag distribution.
So do-able, right? Don't be afraid to volunteer for these or any other great things you think of. Your contribution matters.
If you're interested at all in federal real property, please join us at breakfast next Wednesday, 11/20 for a fantastic panel discussion on Audit Readiness. Follow this link for additional information.