Soon-to-be former VP

30 06 2009

Since the end of June has arrived, I thought I’d share some thoughts about my adventure as the VP of Networking for the Puget Sound (Seattle) chapter of the American Marketing Association (soon-to-be former VP come July 1).

As a longtime AMA member, and big fan of the ’08-’09 president, Katherine Hall, I was happy to volunteer to help her, as well as this year’s entire board, achieve its goals.  And, in light of the sad economic climate, I think we did pretty well in terms of membership base growth, offering value via timely and relevant programming content, creating a social media strategy, and last, but certainly not least, facilitating some great networking opportunities.  However, as with almost anything I direct my energy towards, I had my own set of goals related to my participation as well.
As I wrote in my “Networking Now What book” white paper, Rule # 10 Get Involved in Something speaks to the importance of not just showing up, but rolling up your sleeves and really contributing, as I also mentioned in this post from earlier in the year.  I believe that you have to make a conscious effort, and constantly self-monitor, to be sure you’re adding value as a volunteer and occasionally actually doing things if you are in a leadership role.

All too often I’ve seen folks in executive positions adopt a laissez faire atittude towards leadership while in a volunteer role, and as you might expect, in this setting, it does not go over well.  Maybe you can get away with that approach when you’re in a paid position at a for-profit company, but when you are volunteering for a professionally oriented non-profit, and you and all those around you are not paid or seasoned execs, in my experience, you certainly won’t get the outcomes for which you are hoping. Well, unless your desired outcomes were to have walked away from the experience having put forth as little effort as possible, and having made as few decisions as possible, then woo hoo — mission accomplished!

Unfortunately, the reality is though, that you’ll have loads of non-responders (to emails, invites, etc.), people bailing on you or the organization left and right (attendance at meetings, or lack thereof, are sure indicators of this), and at a minimum you definitely won’t retain the majority of your constituents into the next board term.  I’ve seen it over and over again, and since all involved are volunteers, giving freely of their own personal time, you can bet this lack of hands-on leadership will be remembered when the calls are being made for that exec job opening as the VP of Whatever for a new product launch in town. You can guess whose phone won’t likely be ringing.

OK, back to me now….my goal was to elevate the networking efforts, visibility and focus of an organization on which I depend to keep me engaged, as well as visible, in a professional community of marketers. And, so far, based on the direct feedback I’ve received, I’d say “mission accomplished.” With basically no budget, a few non-starter team members (promptly redirected), a social media strategy focused on LinkedIn and Facebook, and 2 rock star Junior Mints, we did what we set out to do.

I leave the board and my team with a sense of accomplishment, a smile on my face, and total confidence that my mentoree and award-winning  team member, Karin Zabel, will carry the torch as the new VP of Networking into the ’09-’10 year with serious momentum and then some! Go Karin & go PSAMA!

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