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All of us join professional organizations for a reason–a friend belongs, we need to for credibility, etc.  Many times we let years slide by and we don’t stop and review those reasons.  Unless something sets off a boundary–lack of funds, the organization runs itself into a ditch, or a leadership problem.

When doesn’t it fit any longer?  Is there a pattern to you dropping a membership?

I know, as an accountant for 15 years, I joined organization after organization.  Without knowing it, and after delegating it to my assistant, I realized that I belonged to 32 organizations.  Yes, at one time.  Yes, I know this is probably exceptional.  Yes, I can blame it on my assistant or being too busy.  But I’m not.  It wasn’t until I began to take a complete review of those memberships that I realize many no longer fit.

During the review process, I learned to ask different questions.  Let me share with you a 6-step process that I’ve used for the last 8 years that I know will help you:
1) choose more wisely in the future; (2) set your intention and expectations first; and (3) know what you want to give back.

This 10-minute exercise will save you time and money as well as make money and create time with smarter choices in the future.

1.  Make a list of current memberships of all your professional organizations.  Yes, go ahead abbreviations.

2.  Ask what was your intention for joining this organization at that time?

3.  Does that intention still fit?  If yes, rating from 1-10, what would your rating be when you joined and what would be the rating now?  1=because I was new to the profession.  10=I’m getting more out of my membership than I ever intended.  If that intention doesn’t fit, would you like to change it or fold (dissolve your membership).  If the 1-10 rating does fit for you, create one that does.

4.  What is my expectations for my membership?  What do I expect to get out of belonging in 2004?  If your beginning rating was low and it’s still low, do you have any expectations for that changing in the future and what do you need to do in order to get to that level?  Are my expectations realistic?  When do I want to have the first three steps of those expectations, if any, completed.

The most valuable question part of #4–What set of circumstances or date will the membership end?  Remember, everything is temporary.

5.  Prioritize each membership.  Which one do you value most?  Least?  What do you value most?  What does that one have that the others don’t?  Is it something that you have the power to change?  What needs to change to make them all valuable to their fullest?  Is it even possible?  Realistic?

6.  Sixth, how can your membership in each organization help you with your goals in the future?  Match your goals with the organization’s value.  What value does it add to your life, family, or business?

Honesty now.  Okay, it may take some of you with a longer list more than the 10-minutes I promised.  You have to agree though, just reading these steps will get you to think a little differently before joining or renewing your memberships–in any organization.

>From a coaching standpoint, and a FYI, having expectations is a good thing!

This is a great exercise to complete at least once a year. If you take a few extra minutes right now, now that you are focused on this topic, and write the expiration date next to the organization.  And add those dates into your task alert system to review these questions again before you renew.

You can also create a file folder called, “Professional Membership Evaluations & Renewals.”  Inside the front cover, you can write in BIG bold letters, “What’s in it for me to belong?”

This Marketing article was written by Catherine Franz on 3/29/2005

Catherine Franz is a Cetified Coach with niches in product development, Internet marketing, nonfiction/ marketing writing and eduction. Additional tips: