I wrote a post over at AssociationSuccess.org that you may find interesting, in which I share a couple of stories about my personal engagement with some organizations…
I am a member of La Barra Brava, which is the supporter’s group for the MLS soccer (football) team DC United. We are the ones you see on TV chanting, banging drums and waving flags. Our common purpose is to be the “12th man”, to keep the team’s spirits up whether we’re winning or not winning. If we score a goal, we chant. If we concede a goal, we chant louder. If the players are getting tired, we chant loudest. I pay membership dues every year, I buy products (you should see my T-shirt and bumper sticker collections), I attend events (soccer games), I bring other friends to the games, I evangelize the group and my team, I post about it all over social media, I feel deeply passionate about it.
I am a board member at NTEN, an awesome association that helps nonprofits achieve their missions through technology. I have invested many years and a lot of time and work (volunteering, speaking, helping to start their Online Nonprofit Technology Conference back in the day) and attention to this important organization. I’m deeply part of the NTEN community, but as a board member, I actually am probably less connected to the daily work and activities of the average NTEN member than I ever was before I became a board member.
I spend a lot of time in Fitocracy, which is a fitness community where I track my daily swimming and weekly belly dancing (yes really!). I participate in groups, I pay for coaching on occasion, I read feeds, and I consider myself “a Fitocrat” – it feels like part of my identity. But I don’t post anything on social media about it and don’t evangelize it to anyone – it’s a much more private affiliation.
I am connected in LinkedIn to my alumni association from the University of St Andrews where I did my undergrad, and also to my alumni association from Sotheby’s in London where I did my masters degree. I don’t ever look at the first. I look at the second periodically because I’m trying to find a long-lost friend from that time who is not anywhere on the internet (Jane Taylor if you’re reading this, I miss you!…) and I’ve even connected directly to the admins for that reason.
I also speak at the annual conference every year for an association that I used to be a member of and did a lot of volunteering with, until I grew out of it and realized its low-level education was no longer right for me.
So what do all of these stories have in common? I didn’t spell this out directly in each example above, but my level of engagement for each one is more nuanced and may be very different from what I look like as a set of data points on paper.