The Future of Membership in a World Driven by Technology

Membership is about people; people sharing ideas to improve their personal and professional lives, opining on the latest issues, building personal and company brands, and yes, utilizing technology.

My goal here is to listen to the "world" on where membership fits in these fast changing times, and deliver the services needed to get people to "buy" into membership organizations.

Membership is deeper than community. Membership is more personal and takes more effort. It is built on trust.

Stop by often and find out what's happening in the world of Membership... Thank you.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Does Technology Encourage Rudeness?

Have you ever written and e-mail, blog, or posted a comment on a social networking site that you felt “bad” about after the fact? I find myself considering what I write these days more carefully than I used to. In my latest book, “The Teenager’s Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; A Parent’s Gift…” I warn teenagers about this phenomenon that I call APC “Alternate Personality Communication.”

APC is created when the communication is filtered through technology. We tend to be less human than we would be if we were sitting across the table or in the same room as the person with which we are communicating. I have become more aware of this and try to keep it in mind every time I post or comment on a post.

It is very pervasive in the political arena and its impact is corrosive on the entire process of governing. And even in my research of Blogs in the Software Testing community, I have found the same phenomenon. I would bet the mortgage that it is universal and pervasive in all social interaction that is filtered through technology.

So what can we do? As everything in life we can only control our own actions and the first step is awareness. We need to be cognizant when we communicate through technology of the “tone” we are taking. We need to ask ourselves if we were standing in front of this person would I “say” the same thing I am about to write? If I write this can it be “misconstrued” in any way?

I am not saying, don’t be honest. I am saying be as honest and respectful as you would be if the person you are communicating with was standing right in front of you. We need to debate, challenge, and participate in the conversation if we are going to grow both personally and professionally. But we will move forward faster as communities, industries, and individuals if we do it respectfully.

Arguing the concepts without degrading people is what we should promote. If people comment, post, or engage in an inappropriate way we need to take them to task the way the new media has determined is the most effective; ignore them!

As technology professionals we need to lead the way. I am working hard on this every day I post or comment which is most days, several times a day. Most of you that are reading this are probably in the same place as I am. But even if you are not engaged in writing in the social medium, you probably write e-mails every day and can apply this concept.

If you would like to post a comment please do but I hope you take the above advice when you take me to task. Write on!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

You Can’t Fake It…

The most important thing about building membership is the people responsible have to like people! I would even venture to say the organization building a membership has to be in it to SERVE members. Most big companies see membership as a list of people to sell services to. If this is your organization, you will never succeed. Get out of the business now.

Membership is built on honesty, trust, listening, and then delivering on the services most important to the membership you serve. This is not to say you need to deliver everything the membership asks for, but if you can’t deliver, explain why. People will understand that it takes human and financial resources to deliver services and products. Let your membership know you have to prioritize based on the needs of the members, and be honest!

As a membership director myself, I am in the early stages of building out the infrastructure of the Software Test & Performance (STP) association and I have to prioritize. We are working on developing a process for our magazine that focuses on delivering on time, valuable, pertinent, relevant, and cutting edge information to deliver to the industry. But how do you do that? Get the industry experts in the process. I am responsible to drive the operational process but the most important part of my job is to highlight the luminaries in the industry and cultivate new talent.

I believe it is critical to elevate as many practitioners in the field to highlight their knowledge of the industry. Often organizations make the mistake of using the same participants all the time. I agree it is easier but the entire industry is served when many perspectives are delivered. This is not to say the respected leaders of the industry are not important, they are critical. But it is important that a membership knows that everyone is considered and valued when it comes to knowledge sharing. There are a lot of ways to attack any issue, and the more perspectives you have on a subject, the better the industry is served.

We are engaged in debates every day, whether it is software testing, IT support, customer service practices, politics, or quilting, everyone has something to share. If you want to get people recognized allow them to participate. Then recognize them as a valued member of the community.

This being my first post as the Director of Membership for Redwood Collaborative, I wanted to extend an open invitation to software testers, and social media experts to engage in our new start-up. You will find that the group of people that make up our company love membership, people, and delivering value. We have worked together for many years and have a track record that speaks for itself.

Our team here at Redwood Collaborative created the largest and most respected Membership, Event, and Training business in the IT Support industry. We are honored to do it again for our software testers, and social media experts. We know we can be successful if we do the one thing that big organizations can’t do; deliver the services you need with quality and consistency. And we do it because we love helping people to be the best they can be.

You just can’t fake it; you have to really care about people…