I’m currently a member of several professional networking groups. One of them is a thriving community outreach organization with established professional relationships throughout the greater Bay Area. It has been in existence for about 10 years.
Another organization has been in existence for several decades but it is clearly floundering. Members of this second group seem a bit disconnected, some are a bit negative, and the membership roster seems to be waning.
Like I said, one organization has been in existence since 2002 and the other has been around for at least 30 years. They are not carbon copies of each other but they still serve very similar functions.
As I’ve observed both groups in action I’ve come away with a few key observances that I feel would be applicable to just about any organization:
1) Establish and maintain key relationships. One of the main differences between one organization and the other is that the newer one has established deep roots and contacts within the business community while the much older organization hasn’t.
2) Provide indisputable value for your customers and/or clients. Another big difference is that the newer organization provides a valuable service to its’ members and there really is no doubt about it. The other, more established organization provides a valuable service however its’ value is not as apparent.
3) Find ways to remove or neutralize the negative individuals within your organization. When you’re talking about a volunteer organization, it becomes a bit more challenging to deal with negative personalities. Needless to say negative members can destroy the entire core of any organization.
4) Establish the core mission of your organization and don’t be afraid to re-visit it periodically. Why does your organization exist? Can you still meet the goals that have been set? Has the landscape changed in such a way that you can no longer meet those goes?
5) Develop opportunities for everyone in the organization to be a contributor. If your members (or employees) don’t feel that their contributions don’t matter, your organization will soon be in trouble. Make it easy for them to do so. Create new vehicles to make this happen if necessary.
6) Benefits or company profits don’t just happen. This should be common sense, but trust me, for many people it isn’t. So many people fail to make the connection between the effort that they put forth and the benefits that they receive.