Have you ever been surprised to join an association and learn too late that it’s not a good fit for you or your company? Here are ten things to consider when making The Join Decision:
1. How does the association compute ROI?
Does the association offer enough for you to recoup your investment, whether directly or indirectly? Can you calculate whether winning one new customer covers your cost? Are there products and services available through the association which generate tangible savings - perhaps even greater than the cost of your annual dues? If so, membership should be a no-brainer decision.
2. A focal point for engagement.
Whether chapters, special interest groups, or committees, or by any other name, does the association offer your team ways to engage that will be relevant to them, their learning and professional development?
3. More than a calendar.
Does your association do more than networking events? Today’s associations use their convening power in many ways. Networking opportunities are important, especially for organizations promoting business development and partnering, and it can be just a beginning. Keep in mind that many things happen off the association’s public calendar and sometimes you have to inquire about extraordinary meetings.
4. Leadership opportunities.
How does the association ask you to participate in prioritizing activities? How does the association invite members into a consensus-building process? Does the organization give you a chance to serve on boards, sit in visible leadership of programs, and get directly involved? You may need to ask more questions about the time commitment involved in volunteering to lead, and there are few better ways to rise above the noise.
5. Plugging in content.
Does the association give you opportunities to provide speakers, thought leadership, and present your expertise to the membership? How does the association recognize and appreciate your role as a leader in your field?
6. Is the association clear about where it stands on priorities and why?
Does the association have a published platform? Does it make statements when it takes a position? If the association doesn’t want to make clear statements about a position, you may need to be concerned about your brand being associated with something that will reflect on you later.
7. Are there opportunities for a member to engage with other members?
Has your association invited you to develop new business through membership? What are the constraints? If there are limitations on when and how often you can take advantage of new business opportunities, are they balanced in consideration of other members? Keep in mind, an association may have hundreds of members to consider when creating a platform for business development for you.
8. How does the association decide to take action or change direction?
If you’ve ever been a member of an organization with a murky process for taking positions, where a new position can suddenly appear out of nowhere and with no discussion among peer members, you know it doesn’t feel right - especially when the association comes out with something bad for your business. When the process is clear, you may find that not every decision goes your way, but at least you know how members work their way through the development of a position, run it through boards, and so forth.
9. Will a member's voice be heard? How does the association consider member views versus those of non-members?
How does the association weigh the opinions, requests, and objectives of non-members in shaping meetings, positions, and actions? Once you become a member in good standing, do you have confidence that the association considers your voice to be as important and, hopefully, more important, than any views from non-members? If non-members have equal or considerable weight in the direction of the association, you should have questions about the point of belonging.
10. Multiple points of contact.
Does the association make it easy to engage? Is there a call to action in every invitation? The CEO of an association can become a bottleneck. It’s not because of you, it’s simply the volume of traffic. Ideally, an association simplifies your engagement by empowering your relationship with the members of the team actively leading any program.
Are you interested in how CTC puts these ideas to work? Join us for Webinar Wednesdays on Wednesday, October 31st at 9:30am (Pacific). Learn how to capitalize on our member benefits, how to work with CTC to establish leadership and visibility for your organization, and more. We'll preview upcoming meetings and take a tour of our social media and other forms of content.
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