Membership in one or more professional organizations is a must-do for most everyone in the workforce. Aside from hands-on training, acquiring certifications, knowing the right people, or years of experience, membership in an organization like NYSAE helps to ensure success within a field of practice and actually bolsters the aforementioned assets.
However, there are those who are convinced that membership is not for them, that it is a waste of time and money. That is only true if they decide not to take advantage of the many benefits of the organization they joined has to offer.
For over 10 years, I have been an active member of NYSAE and have grown tremendously as a professional and personally as a result of my participation. I was first introduced to NYSAE by one of my mentors, Andy Steggles, who, at the time, was the CIO of RIMS. Andy was introduced to me by one of my ASME colleagues, Amy Geffen. Since then, I have been active as a regular member, an associate member, a member of the board of directors, committee chairperson, and most recently, staff. It’s fair to say that I have been nearly every member type the organization has to offer and will probably be a member for the rest of my career!
So, it is from that perspective that I offer my seven best tips to getting the most out of your membership experience at NYSAE. What's more, you can apply these to getting the most out of any organization’s membership. In truth, I've used my experiences of being an active NYSAE member to shape my approach in other volunteer roles and in working with professionals from other organizations.
- Become a Volunteer – Leading off with the biggest tip, become a volunteer. Volunteer for any one of the committees and you will become immediately immersed in the organization’s many facets. It is the fastest and most reliable way to increase your membership value. Ultimately, having a highly visible position on the board is where you want to head.
- Go to the Board and Committee Retreat – If joining a committee is the biggest tip on getting your value, the next is attending the annual Board and Committee retreat. Whether held locally or at a selected venue, the level of comradery and trust established at these events is nearly immeasurable.
- Attend live NYSAE events – NYSAE offers some really stellar programming, bringing in expert presenters from the northeast area to provide best-in-class educational programs. What’s more, most of the live events provide refreshments, great meals, and other entertainment. Go on and get out there!
- Present at an NYSAE event – There are ample opportunities to present at an NYSAE event. Presenting is a great way to share your knowledge while getting to meet members and guests. If you’re not the presenter type, you might give moderating or facilitating a shot.
- Write Blog articles – In most organizations, and certainly at NYSAE, members are able to post blogs on the website. Along with the article is your profile image. The more people get to know you through your blog posts, and consequently see your profile image, the more recognized you will be at the events.
- Ease off the hard sell – Particularly for associate members (i.e., suppliers), take the time to get to know the members and guests and what motivates them. There are even stories where members have started their real families as a result of their participation in NYSAE (I can think of at least two!). The work/life balance in organizations like NYSAE is paramount and associate members will want to honor that.
- Be patient – Engagement with any organization (or community), at least in my experience, does not happen overnight. It takes time… time to build trust and cultivate relationships. It takes time to become a valued member of the community. But, in the end, patience is critical to getting the most you can out of your membership.
While these tips may sound like a “commercial” for NYSAE, they are real as experienced by others and myself. So, if you find yourself asking how you can get more out of your membership, try these tips.
Denman Wall is Sr. Director, Interactive Services at Dolci Interactive and has been an NYSAE member for over 10 years, serving in various capacities.