So my venture into the world of association membership continues. As I wrote earlier, I recently joined an association and was thrilled at the warm reception.
In truth, I've joined two associations, each with a different membership dues policy: one's paid while the other is free. I won't get into the advantages/disadvantages of the two membership models (mostly because I haven't been in long enough to come to any real conclusion), but I will say that I've discovered one particular boon to the memberships: both are very active on LinkedIn. This has been great for me, despite my social media rookie status, because I'm not one that particularly cares for monthly meetings especially if there is no real substance. Meeting for meeting sake just doesn't make sense. Plus, I've seen firsthand chapters struggle to provide good content month after month often at the expense of more important membership issues – and I've seen attendance at these monthly meetings slide. Of course, I realize that pre-social media, this was the way association members interacted, but now with social media, there are so many more ways to become engaged. (Be sure to read Peggy's post End of Membership As We Know It - or not for more information on how the membership model is – and should be – changing, and her post on another way associations can engage members, The New Competition for Our Association Chapters.)
Back to LinkedIn. The conversation in both groups has been dynamic. We've discussed everything from office technology and office politics to job interview skills and resume building. We've discussed social media tools including the best ways to get the most out of these tools. Best of all, members are eagerly reaching out to each other asking for advice on a range of issues, and the response has been very supportive and informative. I've even weighed in a few times, something I'm not very good at in a public setting. So despite my reluctance to dive into social media, what I've discovered in the last two months is a vibrant community on LinkedIn. A community that allows me the flexibility to interact with others who share the same work place challenges.
Of course, I'll still get together with my chapter folks. After all, face-to-face networking events will always be important. But it's nice to know that I can now reach across my chapter's boundaries and connect with so many other people who, while not in my immediate area, share the same job-related challenges.