Leveraging the Strength of 30+ Clients with Shared Interest & User Groups
Access to a community of like-minded professionals and subject matter experts is an expected and valued benefit of association membership. Here at AMC, nearly every client partner has some kind of solution in place to ensure that association leadership groups and members can connect to share best practices and solicit feedback, and the same goes for AMC employees themselves. More than a dozen AMC Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and User Groups (UGs) serve as the conduit for AMC staff members so they can collaborate, ask questions, share expertise, and ultimately solve problems for our clients and their own career development.
For the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as one of AMC’s SIG/UG Co-Leads, alongside Carly Reisner and Bruce Hammond, CAE. This role was established to oversee AMC’s vibrant SIG/UG program and to ensure groups have access to the information, training, and resources they need to achieve their goals. Co-Leads also work closely with AMC leadership to strategize on how SIGs/UGs contribute to achieving the company’s vision to be a respected leader in the association industry and to cultivate a high-performance culture.
SIGs and UGs connect AMC’s 200+ employees to help facilitate knowledge sharing, education, and relationship building.
AMC has a SIG that covers every core field of association management (marketing and membership, operations, education, government relations, admin/coordinator), as well as specialized functions of associations that many AMC clients have in common, like administering certification programs. SIGs also serve to connect employees who are at similar stages in their career, like our Young Professionals SIG, as well as similar passions, like our Sustainability and Caffeine/Productivity SIGs. User groups help crowdsource best practices and projects for navigating different solutions that many AMC client and service teams use, like Personify, Informz, and Higher Logic.
SIGs and UGs allow AMC employees to quickly and easily problem solve and brainstorm new solutions based on first-hand experience.
When tasked with spearheading a new project, identifying vendors who can help your association address a business problem, or launching a new member benefit, it’s natural to have a bucket list of questions and concerns. In those moments, do you ever find yourself wishing you had someone with experience managing a similar issue who you could turn to? Someone who understands what you’re grappling with, who has been in the same position before, and who has experience working their way through it? These resources are readily accessible through AMC’s SIG and UG networks.
Some actual questions and problems that have been routed through SIG/UG members in recent months to help clients get their questions answered by leveraging the expertise that exists under AMC’s own roof:
- Updating conference media and photography policies
- Selecting a mobile app vendor
- Reliable sources for purchasing a third party physician mailing list
- Creating new benefits and levels of service to an association job board
- Measuring the ROI on paid Facebook ads
AMC SIG and UG leaders are rising stars in the company.
An army of dedicated and ambitious AMC employees keep the company’s SIGs and UGs running by planning and facilitating regular meetings, identifying educational opportunities both inside and outside of AMC, and helping connect the employees who have questions with the employees who have answers. Serving as a SIG/UG leader offers AMC employees a chance to take on extra responsibility at the company in a role where they actively work with an executive sponsor, who is an Executive Director-level member of the company management team. The structure has successfully helped AMC identify, recognize, and mentor rock star staff members while fostering a resource that best serves clients.
Thinking of starting a SIG program?
Here are 3 tips to help you get off on the right foot.
- Allocate appropriate resources so SIGs/UGs can become well-oiled machines. Start by providing groups with an annual budget, a mechanism to facilitate group communication, space and time to conduct their meetings, and a dedicated champion to help the group set goals that ultimately also serve the organization’s overall strategy (at AMC, these are our executive sponsors and co-leads).
- Allow groups to grow from the bottom up. AMC has fostered a grassroots approach to managing its SIG/UG program that successfully empowers staff to self-identify areas where they feel they would benefit from having an established peer group. Create a process whereby employees can request to create – or at times sunset – groups depending on changing needs.
- A little recognition goes a long way. Once up and running, SIGs can add significant value to your organization. When a group initiates or completes a project, hosts a successful educational program, or effectively solves a business problem, take time to recognize and celebrate that effort.
Meg Drumm, MBA CAE, is the director of marketing and communications and a former SIG/UG Co-Lead at AMC.
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