The Wild and Wooly World of Professional Memberships

A recent American Marketing Association (AMA) event I attended this month at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa prompted me to reflect on the ROI of professional memberships in organizations like these. Ever since completing my Ph.D. and entering the marketing world, I have been a member of the AMA in the cities where I’ve worked: Atlanta, Houston, and now Tampa.

I’ve attended some interesting events, connected with local professionals, found vendors, partnered with a coach and even hired some contract employees for Insights360.

Did you notice what is missing from my list?  Business generation.  I have only secured ONE project from my contacts at the AMA; but people give business to people they know and like, so I keep engaging! Fortunately, that’s not how I measure the return on my membership investment.  I find great value in my memberships, as they deliver solid returns in the form of:

  • Idea Exchange. As a moderator, most of my work is solitary, unless I am in the field. Membership in these organizations provides me the context to have an exchange of ideas with other smart people. I love to ask questions, and in return, others share what they know about local resources and “whom to talk to where.”
  • Local Market Perspective. At these events, I get up to speed on the local industries, assess the players in the market, and get take the pulse of the local approach to doing business. It’s fascinating to see the how the modus operandi differs from place to place. (Tampa businesses are a different animal than those in oil-and-gas-heavy Houston.
  • Learn from Others’ Marketing Journeys. While at our most recent event, I was able to hear about the Lowry Zoo’s marketing challenges directly from the CEO, Joe Couceiro. (There’s nothing quite like sharing your seat in the audience with grazing giraffes!) I asked about the Brand Discovery they did under his leadership, knowing that qualitative research played a key role!

Need more reasons to join an association?  Check out: 13 Basic Benefits of Joining a Professional Association.

And, as you can see from my accompanying photos, I always sprinkle in the fun — into research and into daily life. Pourquoi pas?

Here’s wishing you a ROARING first quarter — and remember to sprinkle in the fun and connect with colleagues and the professional organizations near you!

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