Are you a member?

Bootcamp for marketers. College of Charleston
Whether you are a business owner, sales person, or just starting your career, joining a group helps you professionally and rewards you personally.

You probably are aware of a number of organizations in your area, and a quick Google search of your industry and interests will reveal more. There are similar benefits to joining professional associations as well as personal interest clubs.

Now matter what your interests, there is a group for you: construction, accounting, advertising, health & wellness, running, rowing, self-employed, political, arts & crafts, collectors, environmental advocacy. If you are an extrovert and can’t find anyone to share your passion for lead type collecting, start a Meetup group online. 

How will you benefit?

You and your business will gain exposure. Even at your trout fishing club, people are bound to discover you are a dentist or taxidermist. In addition to making new friends; members can become future customers and vendors.

You will learn something new. Business groups feature speakers on industry trends and skills. Other members are eager to share ideas on everything from the latest app they downloaded to the really fast sign-maker they found.

Get friendly with the competition. Competition should make you allies, not adversaries. Today’s competitor frequently becomes tomorrow’s partner or employer.

It’s good for your mental health. Attending an event is a break from the daily grind and a chance to connect with other human beings. 50% of the U.S. workforce teleworks at least some of the time. Attending a meeting gets you out of the house and those sweatpants you’ve been wearing for the past three days.

Sometimes the company pays for your membership. Ask your manager or your HR person. Many times, a company already has a group membership or offers reimbursement. What could be better than socializing without having to pick up the tab?

Creating a demand generation engine. Photo courtesy Charlotte Woodward,Charleston AMA.
You’ve joined. Now what?

Get the most out of your membership by showing up. Add all of the events to your calendar as soon as you join. Click “Going” on a facebook event page. Make membership a priority and plan around it well in advance.

Be seen. Wear your company-branded T shirt. Distribute free passes or samples. Publicize your membership. Add a digital badge to your website or LinkedIn profile. Add a decal to the door of your retail establishment.

Carry your business cards and offer to exchange them with the people you meet.

Follow-up by sending an email or connecting on LinkedIn.

Go one step further, and suggest meeting for coffee.

Contribute. Volunteer for a committee or to help out at an event. The opportunities are endless and range from making a few phone calls to speaking, mentoring, carrying tables, and designing promotions.

Personal experience

My memberships over the past 20 years have garnered me strong friendships, jobs, clients, cool tricks, inspiration, and helped me avoid some mistakes. Professional associations keep me relevant with skills that rise and fall in a changing industry. Volunteering gives me an opportunity to contribute to causes that are close to my heart and lifts my spirit on even the most challenging of days.

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