There have been some conversations recently about the value of associations in Enterprise Content Management. These are all absolutely worth reading.
- Laurence Hart – Too Many Associations
- Donda Young – Things I want in an association
- Chris Walker – AIIM – Here’s What I Want
I too could post on what I want AIIM to be. But with John Mancini leaving the AIIM President role, I thought I’d say what I would do if I were the next AIIM President. Or maybe as a lighter note borrow an idea from Chris Walker’s post, if I were a member of an AIIM Panel of Practitioners (PoP).
I agree that building an association is not easy, but it’s not that hard either. Mainly you need a following. Here’s what I would do to get new members and to show all member that they get a value from the association. My focus between April 2016 and 2017 would be on growing membership and developing local meetings.
Getting New Members
The biggest challenge is getting new members. It’s not that hard if you think like the cable company. Give out the first year free with any new purchase of an AIIM Executive Leadership Council vendor’s software. Many new ECM users have no clue that AIIM exists. Introduce them to AIIM. The “member’s only” content is already out there and a valuable asset waiting for them to use. Add to this an active local community, which I discuss next, and they would be incentivized to pay for year two.
Now that we have the names of thousands of new members, let’s start beefing up the local meetings. Local user groups are difficult to start, but once they are in motion they can run themselves. The three key ingredients are time, content, and location. Local meeting should be about networking between users. So I’m going to start with the hardest one first.
Location – Location is usually what I hear is the biggest challenge for a user group. The immediate belief is that there’s a cost involved. Sure if you go to a hotel conference facility, it’s going to cost you. That’s why many are held in vendor locations. But some people or other vendors may not like this. I found that a customer in Education or Government can probably get access to a location for free. Often employees can use empty facilities for free when they are not being used for other meetings.
Content – Next you ask the new members what they want to talk about. There will be a lot of ideas to narrow down for an agenda. A survey to the attendees will narrow the list. Finding who to speak about it can also be easy. Odds are the user that recommended the topic may want to present. Maybe a local member of the AIIM PoP would be interested in presenting one of the topics. Vendors would usually be happy to speak as well. I would ask them to sponsor breakfast or lunch in trade. Also leave a healthy amount of time for networking. Finally, do a survey of topics for the next meeting.
Time – With a good formula, the amount of time needed from local leadership can be minimal. Planning the first meeting will take the most time. But by adding a call for topics at the end of the prior meeting, future meetings become a question of logistics. The other part of time is how often to hold the local user group meetings? I like the approach of at least two per year. One meeting held a few months before the annual AIIM conference to tease the conference, another a few months after as a recap.
Of course membership and local meetings are just two parts of AIIM. And I’m not belittling all the other things that AIIM does as well. My point is AIIM, you are not on this mission alone. There are a lot of people who have chosen ECM as not just a job, but a career. AIIM, you are free to use ideas I’ve just presented.