Monday, February 13, 2017
Be Sure to Thank Your Power Members
To be fair, it was more than just a "member visit." We're planning an activity in this member's community, they are helping to host and support it, and there were (and still are) a lot of logistical details that need to be identified and resolved. We got a great start on that business, but the trip provided me with another lesson of how important it is to get out of the four walls of my association office and visit my members in their natural environment.
Because of the timing of my arrival, the first thing we did was have lunch. I run a trade association, which means our members are companies, not individuals, and this company is one of our largest members, with their own cafeteria. As we sat around one of those common tables, in a room full of people, all employees of the member company, the small talk conversation perhaps naturally turned to the people I might know in the company.
You see, the folks I was meeting with were all relatively new to me. They were part of the planning group for the activity I described. So as I started listing off other people I knew in the company, it was reported to me where that person might be. Oh, he's in Europe today. Or, She's in. We should swing by and say hi. Or, Yes, he knows you're here today. He's going to try and come by our meeting later.
Then, the best thing happened. Someone I knew, but whose name I had forgotten to recite, walked by. I jumped up from the table and shook his hand. He was glad to see me. He hadn't been in the loop and hadn't known that I was going to be visiting.
It was then that I realized how many people I actually knew in the company--and, by extension, how deeply involved this company was in the activities of my association. This person is on our board, and that person chairs one of our committees. This person appeared in a promotional video our association produced, and that person comes to every education conference. This person relies on the market data reports we produce, and that person works within our standardization initiatives.
This company is not just a member of our association. It is a "power member," getting tremendous value out of the things we do and strongly supporting our initiatives and activities. I somewhat belatedly realized what a delight it was to have the opportunity to spend a day on their campus, greeting everyone I knew individually, and letting them know how much I appreciated their support.
Was it worth driving 700 miles in two days? Absolutely.
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This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.