Memberships: Networking Right for Your Business

Networking memberships come and go. I have joined and occasionally quit a few. These days, when our time management is so crucial, I thought I would share some thoughts I have about this.  When you’re deciding whether your yearly or monthly membership will be of value, I hope you will focus on the ones that benefit your own business.

First and foremost, you’ll want to join at least one group that connects you with like-minded people who do what you do. I belong to the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts). In the past, I was a member of The New York Art Director’s Club and The Society of Illustrators. As business owner and art director / designer, I feel the AIGA is the right place for me to be. On social media though, you can connect, follow and interact with many different groups, and I do, from the Alumni of SVA (School of Visual Arts) to Graphic Design USA!

As an artist and patron of the arts, it’s important to be connected to other local artists too. About a year or so ago, a friend and I were at an event and the organizer said: “I sure wish there was a place to connect all the Jersey City Artists.” Well, that night I created on Facebook: Jersey City Artists and Jersey City Musicians. In addition, after a summit was held for about 100 Jersey City artists, residents, and business owners and breaking into group committees, a real website is being built to connect us all. Fab!

Green Dream International Children's Earth Day Exhibition at the Distillery Gallery in Jersey City. Photo by Danny Chong.

Green Dream International Children’s Earth Day Exhibition at the Distillery Gallery in Jersey City. Photo by Danny Chong.

For technology, I’m a member of the NJ Tech Meetup and each month I learn so much, and meet such interesting, on-the-cutting-edge of technology people. What I especially like about this Meetup group is we are all connected and participating. We talk to each other through the Meetup website before we attend and we interact and vote on start-ups who are pitching, using mobile technology, while there. We aren’t just in the audience, sitting back while others talk at us. We have a say. This is what makes it a great learning experience and fun too.

For business, there are so many things to consider. Do you care about and want to help the other members and visa versa, or is everyone in the group just out to gain ground for themselves? I have tried a few different groups, some work for you and others are just a waste of one’s time. Sometimes the problem is that a group gets too large, and starts to break into smaller chapters and it can become somewhat exclusive and off-putting. Recently, a woman called me and asked me to come try out their group. I decided to go, why not? Always a good idea to meet new people. I get to the meeting, there’s know no one I know, of course, and the woman who invited me, isn’t even there! Does that seem like a group I’d like to be in?

I’ve been wanting to join a local Chamber of Commerce and trying to decide which one, as there are a few in this area. I think this is one of the best ways to meet and network locally.

Because I’m an environmentalist as well as a designer, I belong to wildlife and environmental organizations also. Recently I joined, Pershing Field Friends Group and will attend another meeting tonight. I participated in helping to plant assorted flowers and clean up the park areas a bit too, a few weeks back. This past Saturday, I attended a call to action at the City Hall of Jersey City by the Citizen’s Action Committee. It was quite interesting as we listened to what has been accomplished, broke into the groups we wanted to participate in, and got to express what we cared about. We will be meeting again in a few weeks.

Always remember that you can join something for a passion and you can still be networking for business. Who says you can’t schmooze while you plant flowers and find potential clients too?

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