Connecting with your prospects and clients is important and should be part of your marketing strategy. Through client associations, you can develop and foster relationships with clients and prospects. Determine what associations they are deeply involved in, and sign up for your own membership. When doing this, remember that you need to be committed to attending at least 75% of their events. Don’t sign up for every association, because then you won’t go to any of them. Be selective and choose two or three to get involved in.
The more focused your efforts are, the better results you will see. Get to know as many of the association’s board members and other members and set up individual, informal meetings. You’ll learn a lot about each person and their business by talking one-on-one. You’ll also be able to determine if there is a good potential fit with each person/business for your firm. You want to work with people you like and trust!
Not only are client associations beneficial to be involved in, but non-profits are also a good avenue through which to build relationships. Many non-profits are looking for business people to join their board of directors. Find one that you are personally passionate about and get involved. You’ll meet a wide variety of business owners and expand your network even further.
Some tips for gaining the most from your involvement include:
It takes patience to see the return on your investment with memberships, because it’s all about building relationships. You must commit to the time, but you must also determine if it’s a good fit. There will be times you join an organization, get involved, and then a year later decide it doesn’t make sense for you and/or the firm. That’s okay. There are plenty out there, so don’t get discouraged. Remember, though, it may take longer than a year to see results. It may be two or three years before any leads or projects develop from your involvement in these associations. Be patient!
A company where I used to work had an unwritten policy: if the company paid for a membership, then the employee had to be on a committee or on the board within a year of joining. This forced the employee to be involved. Sitting on a committee or board gives you more access to your clients and prospects, therefore maximizing the opportunity to foster those relationships.
Memberships and associations are an easy way to meet people, but it’s important to be selective in the ones you attend. You must also have patience for it to pay off. When done strategically, involvement in these associations can be a powerful tool.