1. Join. Seems obvious, but you will be surprised how many people continually participate at club events, that are not members. Don’t get me wrong, It’s not a bad thing to be a non-member and participate, but how many events does it take to decide that you want to hang with this club? If you enjoy participating in the club’s activities, help out by JOINING THE CLUB! Consider all the advantages that membership brings. As a member you will be able to influence the direction of the club. You might be invited to take a leadership position that solves a problem with which the club is struggling. Each of us has something to offer the club. Your life experiences may offer a solution or a great idea that moves the club to the next level.
2. Attend membership meetings. It is hard for people to attend these meetings the first couple of times. You think everybody is looking at you and you may be asked to introduce yourself to the group. Research has indicated that glossophobia (the fear of public speaking) is the number one phobia reported in the United States. But, believe me, nobody is judging you. We are glad and excited to see a new face. I recall during my first couple of membership meetings, being asked by the clubs leader rather brusquely “Who are you and why are you here?” (He was trying to be funny), fear and anxiety coursed through my body, and I could feel the beads of sweat forming on my palms, My response was “My name is Ed Shuler and I am a potential new member”, everyone said “Hi” and the spotlight quickly moved on to other business. All that fear and anxiety for a 5 second interaction, it wasn’t worth it. Don’t expect anyone to remember your name and don’t expect to learn anyone else’s name at the first meeting. It takes repeated exposure before you will commit names to memory. There may be one or two people that will interact with you if you are open to interaction but most people will not introduce themselves or strike up a conversation. People are naturally shy and reserved around people they have just met. Give yourself time to get a feel for the group dynamic. Meet and learn the name of one new person at each meeting. You will be surprised at how easy it is to be a member of the group when you know only a couple of the other members.
3. Step forward when offered an opportunity. Everybody has something to offer and you joined because you like these people. After a reasonable period of time, you should step forward. I have noticed, that in every organization the same handful of people do all the work. From Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) to Meet-up Groups to 501-C3 organizations, even if the club has thousands of members, the same 10 or 20 people do all the work. This is crazy! Even if you are not approached, offer your services to the group. It is very rewarding, for the club and your self esteem. Believe me, the old saying that “many hands make the job go faster” is true. Most of the folks doing the work will gladly accept your offer of assistance, especially if you have ideas that make the job easier. Even if you are only offering muscle, it will be greatly appreciated.
All of the jobs that are easy and fun (like showing up at an event and participating) are made possible by people doing jobs that are less easy and less fun. Help out whenever you can.
Be sure to follow thru when offering your services. If you offer to do a task and don’t get it done, you are making someones life harder. This is NOT GOOD! If you forgot or honestly didn’t get the task done because of extenuating circumstances, beg for forgiveness and try again, but if you can’t or have no intension of doing something, don’t volunteer to do it. Give the task its DUE DILIGENCE.
It has been my experience that club membership is extremely rewarding. I have made new friends and expanded my depth of knowledge. Opportunities that I never imagined have materialized and I am curious where membership in this club is taking me.
In summary; being a member of a club related to your favorite hobby, is a hoot. Get in there!