Once again it’s the time of year where we assess what marketing and business development efforts we have done over the course of the year so we can prepare our year-end reports for management, and to plan accordingly and strategically for the coming year. One of the marketing efforts that many lawyers as well as marketing professionals undertake each year is to serve on boards and do work with Associations where they may have the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with current and prospective clients. Granted, not everyone is suited for this, but I have always enjoyed this type of marketing activity so I’m returning to serve on the local 2012 Los Angeles Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Board.
Why would I do this now? After all, I did put in my time years ago when I was starting to develop my personal brand and become a brand ambassador for my then employer. I’ve served on two local LMA Boards and on five National LMA Conference Committees, multiple national and local committees and task forces. I am the only International LMA Board member voted onto the board by a specific constituency to represent them for the first time. However, it’s been almost ten years since I have provided any significant volunteer service to the LMA. I felt that the time has come to step up and volunteer again to give back to the Association and the members that have been so good to me.
Perhaps I waited for my young daughter to become older because I wanted to spend as much time with her as I could during her younger years. Maybe it’s because I’ve been with a few other companies since I last served on a Board and I want to re-establish my personal brand so that people associate me immediately with Moiré Marketing Partners as opposed to “the guy that was with __________”. After some soul searching, and needing a damn good reason to explain to my business and family why I chose to do this again, I elected to return to serving on the LA LMA board because I’ve always valued my LMA Board experiences in the past and I see no reason why this Board shouldn’t be any different.
Serving as a member on a Board of Directors for any nonprofit organization like the LMA can be one of the most important, influential and satisfying experiences of your life. Unfortunately, there are always folks who have unpleasant stories to share about their poor experiences as a board member. I’ve found these are due to misconceptions about what is truly involved in serving on a Board before they volunteered (or were recruited). And, there’s always some politics and gamesmanship that can take place. This is no one’s fault, sometimes there is just a bad mix of personalities or differing issues of importance to various members of the board. As I said earlier, this type of service is not for everyone – however, so long as you keep your communications open and civil you can get a lot of good work accomplished. I’ve found that when I focus on the issues that matter the most to me and the members and not get caught up in the gamesmanship, I generally end up doing my best to become an agent of change on those issues that really matter, as opposed to becoming bogged down by the “personalities” or trying to be “important” or impress someone.
I recalled an article from Fast Company that listed the top reasons to serve on an Association or not-for-profit board. Here’s the Fast Company’s list of how serving on a board can benefit you (with my own minor variations):
- It can channel your creative energy by contributing in strengthening an organization that is meaningful to you, your business and your profession.
- You can gain expertise on complex issues that are integral to your business and the economy. For example, business development, education in your chosen profession, as well as the issues and trends that are important to the industry you’re working in.
- You will gain better understanding of board governance through personal experience.
- You will build valuable networks and relationships with fellow board members and the companies that support the organization .
- Through experience, you can grow as a leader.
In my case, I’m returning to support our younger LMA members to share my years of experience, like others did for me years ago. I can only hope that other senior LMA members will be doing the same.
Serving on a local or international board is hard work and time consuming but it can be filled with many rewards. Have you served on an LMA Board? Did it improve your brand or position in the industry? I’d love to hear your comments.
Happy New Year!