Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Guilt By Association: Best Practices for Professional Association Involvement

I admit it. Like 215 other Milwaukee area marketing professionals, I took most of the day off Monday to play in a golf outing. Specifically, it was the Business Marketing Association Milwaukee Chapter’s annual golf outing.

Given our company’s ambition to continue building on three years of unprecedented growth, my colleagues and I aren’t in the habit of ditching out of work to play golf any chance we can. But BMA Milwaukee has earned our trust and time over the years—thanks to the notable benefits we’ve realized through our involvement. In the end, the BMA-Milwaukee golf outing was, as always, time well-spent.

If you’re a professional marketer, you already know that active involvement in professional groups is an important strategy for building a successful business—and a successful career. Organizations like BMA have helped our company:

  • raise our visibility in our local marketplace
  • build our reputation as a B to B-focused agency
  • recruit great people to join our company
  • generate new business opportunities

Those are the obvious benefits. We also know that when we facilitate our employees’ active involvement in the business community, we contribute to their career development. That's why we'll sponsor each employee’s participation in at least one professional organization, provided the following criteria are met:

  1. The organization’s purpose has to serve our company’s ambition, purpose and go-to-market strategy.
  2. The employee’s participation must produce clear business value for our company.
  3. The employee's participation must produce clear career-building value for the employee.
  4. The employee must play an active role in the organization. Minimally, that means being an active member of a committee. The last thing we want is for our people to simply show up at the functions. "Association membership" to us is about action. It's about making a significant contribution recurrently, and thereby driving the organization, the industry and one's career forward.

Along the way, we’re always assessing the value of the organization, and the seriousness of the employee’s commitment. After all, each dollar and hour spent with a professional organization is time and money that can’t be spent elsewhere.

This set of practices has allowed us to produce distinct benefits for our company and our employees while simultaneously contributing to the broader community of marketing professionals.

Not to mention the occassional round of guilt-free golf.

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