June 24, 2018

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7 Tips for Professional Engineering Organization Leadership (Part2)


4. Establish Annual Sponsorships with Corporate Members. Most professional organizations operate based on sponsorships or donations from corporate members. Consider establishing your sponsorship requests on an annual basis versus ad hoc with each event or need for funding. Also, time the requests such that they go to the sustaining members generally during their annual budget development. This allows them to budget for sponsorship of your organization. The benefit for your chapter is that you will have a known operating budget for the year versus operating on hope.

5.Survey your membership for their needs. Your role as a servant leader for the professional organization requires you to know what the membership needs. This may be PDH's or it may be camaraderie. Unless you survey the membership, you are likely guessing. I've learned much from soliciting this feedback, which was then used to build a high-impact program that brought in members and boosted corporate sponsor support. But this only occurred because we knew what the membership needed.

6.It's all about the program. In the end, your professional organization exists to deliver a program to members. Members will continue to be members as long as their return on investment is met or exceeded. This means, you need to ensure that your organization is providing value to the members. As a leader in the organization, be actively involved in development of the annual program. Ensure that it is meeting the needs of the membership and fulfilling expectations from the national level. You'll know if you're getting it right based on attendance at each event. A great problem to have is needing to find a new venue because you're outgrowing the one you're in!

Leadership in a professional organization is normally thankless. You aren't being paid, most of the members may know your name but not care about the time you're investing, and you'll certainly put more hours into it than you imagined. Sounds worthwhile, right? It is if you're interested in building your leadership skills, creating relationships that can open opportunities for you, and enhancing your ability to create value for other engineers.

Author: Christian Knutson, P.E., PMP is an international infrastructure development program manager, engineer, and author. He has extensive experience in leadership, management, and engineering earned from a career as a civil engineering officer in the U.S. Air Force. He now coaches engineers enabling them to create an engineering career and life of fulfillment at The Engineering Career Coach.

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