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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Are you thinking about joining the AMA (American Marketing Association) or a professional organization in your niche?  Well, as someone who's been in and out of professional associations my entire career, I can definitely share the benefits and pitfalls associated with taking the plunge.

About a year ago, I decided to rejoin AMA and make a true investment in terms of time and effort.  The first thing you need to know, is that you only get out of it, what you put into it.  And the second thing takes time to see any tangible results.  Over time however, the positives far outweigh the negatives or fears of joining an association group.

I don't know what your motivation to become a member may be, networking, job search, growing your business, but having a goal is essential.  Based on my experience with the American Marketing Association, I believe that the initial goal should be developing new relationships and expanding your network of marketing professionals.

Professional association fees can cost a lot especially if coming out of your own pocket.  I know this was my initial hesitation and I really questioned the value I would get for my money. But once you've joined as a member other costs are generally reduced and you quickly see how to make the most of your investment.  In addition to networking type of events, many of these organization encourage continuing education and other fee based services that really aren't available through other channels.  You should decide what's most important to you, what you value most, and work towards leveraging the resources that make it worthwhile.

When I joined my professional association I was looking for contacts that could help grow my business or supplement my staff. With that in mind, I was quickly able to find other people at the AMA who shared similar goals and related experiences, saving me valuable time and effort.  I'm now more convinced than ever that business success is all about who you know and not what you know.  Results are obviously important but the 80/20 rule comes into play.  Said another way, you'll never find potential opportunities if you aren't connected to the right people who are tapped into a pretty steady stream of business opportunities and connections.  Being part of a professional Marketing association is essential if you make a living in the marketing niche.

I'll have to admit that I was a bit intimidated at first.  Walking into a networking event alone, without any prior introductions, can be a bit challenging.  If I could do it all over again, I would have started with a local chapter versus the larger parent organization.  This is true when it comes to the American Marketing Association too.  Local chapters are more hands on and less formal than the national association but I think you must join national before the local chapter.

I guess what I'm saying here is that you should make the investment in your professional association, regardless of your current role.  You can always scale your involvement either up or down based on your current situation. In the past I used associations to gain access to valuable training and industry insights.  Now, I'm using it to expand my network and grow my business.  But that's what's great about belonging to an industry focused group - there are others who share similar goals and come from a similar background.

Before you join any group, think about why you want to join. Honestly, it's half the battle.  Individual experiences with any association will vary but don't expect something for nothing.  If you have specific goals, develop a plan to leverage the association to get there, and do your homework, your chances of success increase 10 fold.  If all you're going to do is pay your annual fee and show up to one annual event, don't waste your time.

For information on the national AMA or New Jersey AMA, click here.  See you at the next event!


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