AMCs that don’t take advantage of ASAE and AMC Institute offerings don’t know what they are missing. Recently I had a surprising conversation with a colleague in the AMC community, someone I had not met previously and whose name I’d never encountered at any ASAE & The Center or AMC Institute meetings. When I asked if I would see him and the co-owner of his AMC at the August meetings of these groups, I was stunned by his answer.
"Do you know how expensive those meetings are? And really, do you ever learn anything when you go to them?" he asked. I was almost speechless (which friends will tell you doesn’t happen to me often). I didn’t know where to start in telling him the return on my investment I receive when attending meetings and educational events with my association and AMC colleagues. Put simply, I cannot imagine how I’d replace these meetings and what I learn, both from the people at the podium and during the social events that follow the educational programs.
But then I remembered my own moment of hubris several years ago when I decided to become a certified association executive. I thought the move was a smart career decision, but didn’t expect to learn much in the process because I had what I thought was a solid, diverse background in association management that had prepared me for the CAE exam. It didn’t take long, however, to see that while I had my strengths, there was plenty more to learn in areas where I had less, if any, experience.
Today I continue to attend functions like the ASAE & The Center annual meeting in part to maintain my CAE designation, but for other, more practical reasons. I need the information and the help of colleagues to keep up with the many changes underway in business, in general, and with associations and AMCs more specifically.
Participation in these and other training sessions, as with the time spent reading the listserver and this newsletter, has benefits that my company often can pass along to its clients. After last year’s session featuring the author of The Ultimate Question, for example, we incorporated this concept into leadership training classes for two clients and into the annual membership surveys we conduct for most clients. I usually summarize the more significant findings and include them in my board reports at meetings in the fall.
These meetings can also be invaluable for what I learn outside the educational sessions, including tips on such rapidly changing topics as technology from colleagues. I’ve also been the beneficiary of referrals for new clients—referrals I received only because of the many relationships established over the past several years.
I go to these meeting for many reasons—for the benefit of myself, my AMC, and my clients—but in short I go for the juice. Not the O.J. I go for the energy and information and enthusiasm these meetings deliver. Sometimes the results are direct and tangible, but most times these meetings are an essential way of rebuilding my knowledge base and my enthusiasm and renewing my energy. They are not optional; they are essential, and very much worth the investment.
So, whether your AMC is measuring its existence by decades, years, or months, get some juice and join your colleagues this summer in Chicago. Contribute to the listserver. Keep reading this newsletter. Is it worth the time and money to do all this? I just wouldn’t be in business today without it, and I wouldn’t have gained the new client from my penny-wise and pound-foolish colleague who will stay home this August, wondering how he lost a client.
Robert E. McLean, CAE, is president of REM Association Services, Arlington, Virginia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission, copyright June 2007, ASAE & The Center, Washington, DC