I’m A Subject Matter Expert?!

I want to share with you an e-mail I received this week asking for advice and my response. Michelle granted me permission to share this and we hope you can provide tips as well.

From: Michelle L.

Subject: professional assoc question

To: propchock

Date: Monday, April 12, 2010, 4:51 PM

Hi Pat,

In my networking pursuits, I have been asking the question of which networking/professional organization should I get involved with that focuses on marketing and could include sales.

The following are the ones I have gathered from the Cleveland/Akron area:

American Marketing Assoc.

Public Relations Society

Sales and Marketing Execs

Direct Marketing Assoc.

I would rather get involved with a quality group where you are not constantly spending a lot of money to attend their events.  Looking for not only networking but learning about interesting topics.  Your name has been consistently mentioned as the person to follow.  So, I thought I would ask your opinion.  Do you have a suggestion(s) on which groups I should focus and why?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Michelle L.


Dear Michelle:

Right now, I’m reeling from the fact you are asking me for advice. Thanks for writing to me.

Becoming part of a professional association does translate into a price break on its events and professional development courses. I have not committed to one, so I pay more.

You are in a good position to road test some of the groups you listed. The American Marketing Assoc. Cleveland Chapter is conducting a membership drive. I have forwarded the e-mail I received. Perhaps your inquiry could lead to a free or reduced cost look.

And I believe on Thursday, the Direct Marketers group is cosponsoring a Tweetup, a face-to-face social event, with Cleveland Social Media Club for Tax Day. Check my list for time and location. This is a good time to informally meet members and chat them up. I have not been to any of its events, although it is part of a big end of summer networking event with the Web Assoc. and other groups.

And I hope some of them are there. I have recently been to cosponsored events where one organization’s members failed to show.

On the Sales and Marketing Executives of Cleveland, I just went to its monthly Afterhours mixer. This is free, except the cost of drinks, and another way to informally learn about the group. Check my list or SMECleveland’s website for time and location.

Are any of your contacts currently group members? Ask them for their recommendations. Perhaps they can get you into an event for free or small charge.

Also, check out the group’s website. I try to include links with listed events.

And use social media to keep up with your targeted trade groups! Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I’m in some of the LinkedIn groups for NEO Society for Technical Communicators, International Assoc. of Business Communicators Cleveland Chapter and Press Club of Cleveland.

When you have interacted with these groups, you will find the one that matches your goals. It’s no different than looking for your next career. In fact, you could find your next job through one of these groups.

Again, Michelle, thank you for asking me about area professional associations.


Pat Ropchock


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