If there is one organization you’re supposed to join in the contracts world, it’s the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).
And yet, I didn’t feel compelled to renew my membership for a measly $125. (I thought it was $75 and I still didn’t feel it was worth the cost).
To be fair, it’s the national organization I fault, not the local chapters. The local chapters I have attended are actually great organizations — a bit stuffy for my informal taste, but to each his own. Sometimes there are cliques, but they welcome you with open arms. Unfortunately, attending dinners every month is not what I look for.
But the national organization is another story. I always felt I was being sold something. Money is obviously vital for any organization, and NCMA clearly recognizes that. However, community is another thing I look for, and I felt no sense of belonging and no real outreach from national; I get the distinct feeling national saw me as a commodity, not a person. I refuse to belong to any organization like that.
GovLoop, on the other hand, I consider as a model of community. People answer your questions; they reach out to you and congratulate you on your successes. I can even interact with GovLoopers whenever I want thanks to the Internet.And GovLoop retains a community focus even though it is owned by GovDelivery, a private company. NCMA, which is a nonprofit, has less community than a private sector owned organization. It’s supposed to be the other way around; but it’s not!
I suspect differences in the feelings of community have to do with their business structures: GovLoop was originally organized as a social network, so it primarily online, supplemented by real world interactions like GovUps. NCMA was created in the pre-Internet Age. It’s use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and GovLoop are commendable, but that doesn’t change my perception that it views me as a commodity, not a person.
Look on NCMA’s website; you’ll hardly see highlights of its members or even pictures. It doesn’t celebrate its members in the way GovLoop does. NCMA mostly has ads, tiny font sizes, and the latest book or overpriced webinar; (I won’t pay $50 for a 1-hour online course when DAU offers similar services for free, even to the general public).
GovLoop congratulates its members; its people feel like they are with friends; NCMA feels stodgy — this is not something I or too many people of my generation (Gen Y) look for. If you want us to stay, let alone join, offer us something better — we deserve it. Otherwise, you will find your revenue slipping as the aging demographics of the contract profession catches up with your membership.
- Develop revenue-sharing partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and GovLoop; any if anyone buys a NCMA product through those sites, the social media sites gets a piece of the action.
- Celebrate and promote your members through social media sites. Link their blogs. Call them to thank them (and that’s all; don’t ask for money) — word will spread. Take the time recognize major life events.
- Do NOT try to turn NCMA into a social media site; NCMA knows contract management, but it doesn’t know how to run a social media site. Leverage relationships with social media sites and customize your presence on those sites.