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.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The “Model” Remains the Same…

Ron Muns the Founder of HDI, my former employer, had a philosophy; always embrace valuable information and share it with your members no matter the source. And even if the “source” is "competitive", as long as it is credible and valuable, share it with your membership. The philosophy is more relevant today than ever.

Today with the pervasive information “traveling” throughout the networks called social media, information is just information, the value add is getting it to the right people, joining in the conversation, and enabling a vibrant discussion around the topic. The model is the same, the delivery has changed. There are so many new delivery methods.

There are also a ton of people that are trying to jockey for a position as a social media “expert” to help organizations figure out the best way to engage with this new medium. But there can’t be any true “experts.” There are people that are ahead of the curve on the tools and skills needed to navigate the virtual web, but the information is too vast and rapidly changing for anyone to have the time to be designated “expert.” Learn from people or organizations that are willing to help; avoid the "experts."

The greatest value we can add from an organizational perspective is to learn social media so we can share the information that will help the communities, customers, and members we serve. Give them a way to help each other through engaging the social media. Get to know Social Media to understand, learn, and grow with your community.

The goal is the same as when Ron started his company many moons ago before Social Media. You must know how to utilize social media, but it is not simply the social medium that is important; it is how you use it to serve your customers information that is credible and valuable …

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Get Involved in the Conversation…

I tell my kids that the key to a successful life is to get involved and love to learn. Getting people involved is what I spend my time and energy doing in my personal and professional life. It is very rewarding when I send out a request for applicants to get involved as a volunteer, and hundreds of people apply. I wish it was thousands, and it should be, but that is one of the other secrets I share with my kids; so few step up that when you do, you stand out. And standing out in an organization by volunteering your knowledge and abilities always adds to a successful life.

I have also defined success for my kids. Success is not about the money and stuff, success is about strong families, strong relationships, fulfilling your spirit with knowledge, sharing that knowledge to help others, and leaving behind a legacy to be proud of.

The material wealth may or may not come, but mostly you “get what you need” to quote a great Stone’s song.

The way to get involved in the conversation is to engage in your profession through membership or community models, utilize the social network tools and groups that focus on your interest, create a group that focuses on the things that get your passion flowing, but get involved.

Get in the conversation and success will follow. However you define success…

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Social Identity; How many should we have?

A long, long time ago, in a far off land, it used to be that having more than one identity made you either a spy or a two faced B------! Today in the new world of social everything, you have to have as many identities as you have interests. With the lines blurring between business and personal lives we are continuing to see and create social identities on the web that match the personal, business, personal/business, pursuits we have in life. It is interesting times we live in where it is possible and within anyone's reach to be the next “celebrity” personality or “expert” on the social web. The opportunity for existing businesses to change and grow with the times seems dependent on getting connected in the new social world. But how do we do that?

What makes a social identity a celebrity or expert in the social space? What’s the reason 15,498 social identities follow jaybaer (twitter identity)? How did Pete Cashmore (mashable) attract 1,954,790 social identities to follow this identity, and when he created a personal identity of (PeteCashmore) in days he had 5,101 followers? Who is behind (Servicesphere), the IT Service Management expert with nearly 1000 followers?

In a social world of many identities, what seems to be happening is what has happened throughout time, people are attracted to a trusted source on a topic that interests them. What these few examples, and there are many more, have in common is trust, credibility, and a seemingly endless amount of caffeine at their disposal. They are “living” in the social societies of the web. They eat breathe and endlessly create value for their followers. They are pioneers in a social world where people crave information, and they deliver.

So what does this all mean for the rest of us? And in particular those of us that currently have small businesses, have written a book, are running for elected office, and are artists, musicians, and human beings. The answer seems to be to engage with the new social society in the areas that we are truly passionate about. Not just to make money because people can sniff that out a mile away in this new social society. We need to be contributing value to the conversation happening in this new world.

Back to my initial question; how many social identities should we have? My guess is as many identities as we have interests. As long as those identities are created for the purpose of adding value in the chosen social arena of interest, create away. We need to be in the social society for the same reasons we engage in the “real” society; to add value to our lives and the lives of others. We go to work, we go home and coach the kids sports team, follow the politics of the day and rant, read a good book, and sleep. The only thing different between the social web society and “real society” is to make it in the virtual world you just can’t sleep!

Make another pot of coffee dear it’s going to be a long day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Social Media Week!

I learned that this week is Social Media Week! Here is a link to learn more .

The social media “world” is a very confusing landscape to navigate. But if you are in business, you really need to understand how it can help you gain a competitive edge and improve customer relations. Business needs to be in this world just as they needed to increase their presence on the net with a business website. Similar to why a business needs a website, businesses need a social web strategy to expand their brand and image in their respective industry.

NewComm Forum, a conference my company is hosting is looking to help people navigate this social landscape by providing speakers that “live” in the virtual world. And believe me it is a new world. When I talk to business owners and they ask me what I do, the conversation always comes back to social media. These business people are confused by the social web because it is a “new frontier” similar to the .com revolution of years past. But they instinctively know they should be doing something on these social networks.

I tell them this new “world” offers opportunities that will enhance their businesses but the ROI depends on the type of business they are in, and the resources they have to make sure they have a visible, professional, and active social identity.

As the number of organizations that use the social web to build and grow business increases, so will the opportunity to build relationships between social media companies and the customers they serve. That is the opportunity that most excites me in this new world.

Please feel free to comment and if you would please take the 3 question survey I have created about Social Media Week; I would appreciate it! Thank you in advance.

Survey Link