First, there are the meetings our associations plan themselves. Our conferences and trade shows and Board meetings. We have to attend those. Although I often joke that a well-planned meeting is like a freight train--we couldn't stop it if we tried--the fact is that these meetings wouldn't happen without us. They're ours.
Second, there are all the meetings we're invited to. Come give a presentation. Come participate in our discussion group. Come learn something important to your daily workload. We're not responsible for planning any of these meetings--and some have far more value to the planning organization than they do for us and our associations. These you have to weigh carefully. If you accept all the invitations you receive, you'll get nothing else done.
And third, there are the meetings, planned by somebody else, that you must invite yourself to. Fact is, there are things going on in your environment that are affecting you and the organization you represent, and not everyone is going to think to include you. You have to search these meetings out and get yourself there, invited or not.
For me, at least, the third kind is increasingly beginning to squeeze out the other two.
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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit www.ericlanke.blogspot.com, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at email@example.com.