One of the topics that several members of the CLC Community have inquired about is whether it is “worth it” to join membership organizations. For a fresh perspective on this question, I turned to Dodie Jacobi, an entrepreneur who also mentors others. She is a great Connector in her own right and always brings insightful perspective to the idea of Networking – especially focused on utilizing it as a catalyst for business success.
Her piece from October 31, 2013, “Ten Ways to Scare Up New Business From Membership Organizations,” provided great fodder for anyone wishing to leverage these formal networking groups. With great appreciation to Dodie, below is a slightly modified version of the ideas she shared in that post.
Guest Post from Dodie Jacobi:
Whether you’re a member of a Chamber of Commerce, trade organization, class, professional networking club, or peer advisory, new business opportunities abound! Here are ten action steps you can take now to help you make the most of your membership:
- Make and maintain a database. You will want to have contact information to track the “who you know” that will build from your membership.
- Review your organization’s directory. Label members as “Prospect” or “Peer” so you are familiar with the type of relationships that are possible.
- Attend the events. Read the organization’s newsletter and attend at least one event for building relationships, and one for building your business acumen.
- Collect business cards. Enter the information in your database contact information and other notes about conversations with members that will help build your relationships.
- Identify your Top 20. Make a list of 20 members with whom relationships have the most potential benefit to your business. Each week, invite one member to lunch with an agenda focused on the potential mutual benefits of your relationship. As you become better acquainted, circle back to invite them to join you at upcoming member events.
- Communicate. Use email blasts and event invitations to keep fellow members informed about your business’ successes and activities. Send an invitation to Linked In, and any other social media, and drop an email from time-to-time to reinforce your relationship.
- Stay fresh. Once you’ve been a member awhile, continue to develop new relationships by meeting or getting to know better at least one new member at each organizational function.
- Be a good Prospect. Be honest with others who want your business about what is interesting to you, or redirect them to cultivate a peer relationship instead.
- Be a good Peer. Learn about your fellow members’ products and services, so you can be a referral source. Attend members’ business events when invited. Offer informed advice when asked or introduce your Peer to someone who can be helpful. Ask new customers how they heard about your business, so you can track and thank referrals that come from members.
- Be a good Organizational Steward. Share ideas with the organization’s staff and board members for how you can get more out of your membership! It’s YOUR experience too. You’ll be a great ambassador – especially if you believe it’s a great organization.