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by Stacey Robinson, CAE, KCSAE Director

What does your professional circle look like? Not the people following you on social media or the folks you occasionally shake hands with at meetings, but rather who are the key people from whom you seek advice, support and candid feedback?

Having a professional circle can be one of the most influencing resources in an association executive’s toolbox if intentionally created and properly utilized. In fact, some would say the relationships with these people have been one of the most formative to their success as professionals, as well as the success of their organizations. I know that has been my experience.

In the June/August 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, authors Rob Cross and Robert Thomas shared their insight in Managing Yourself: A Smarter Way to Network.

They found that executives who consistently rank in the top 20 percent of their companies in both performance and well-being have diverse yet  select networks made up of high-quality relationships.

“Core connections must bridge smaller, more-diverse kinds of groups and cross hierarchical, organizational, functional, and geographic lines,” said Cross and Thomas. “Core relationships should result in more learning, less bias in decision making, and greater personal growth and balance.”

Like many of you, I came to KCSAE for the professional development and education; however I stayed engaged for the people. Over the past 9 years, through committee work, studying for the CAE, attending ASAE conferences, and working on the Board, I’ve accumulated a group of approximately 10 people whom I respect and value their opinions and experiential knowledge, and vice versa. They are people I can call on for advice, use as a sounding board, or run new ideas through. I trust that they will not say what I want to hear if the opposite needs to be said and that they are looking out for me both personally and professionally. These relationships have been the most pivotal return for me as a member of KCSAE.

Knowing the value of these personal connections for our members, the KCSAE Board of Directors continues to place networking on the forefront of our strategic initiatives. KCSAE is committed to creating an association management community for its members that advances their careers through education, professional development and networking.

In order to ensure diverse opportunities for networking to exist, KCSAE recently rolled out Special Interest Groups (SIGs), as well as online communities. These opportunities are both designed to bring together members who share common interests and needs, and act as a resource to expand professional circles. There are four community segments currently available – Membership, Emerging Professionals, Advanced Professionals and CEOs – and you can join one or all of these segments by emailing and asking to join any of these four communities.

I would urge you to take advantage of the networking opportunities in KCSAE. The members of KCSAE are forward thinking, strategic business women and men who are working hard to build and strengthen the association management community.

Like many of us, you likely did not take your job to become an association executive. This circle of insight can give you a perspective on a career you never knew you wanted and can be an asset on your journey through association management, and in return you too can serve as a resource.

Look around KCSAE, engage the hands you shake each month with a phone call or coffee date to discuss work and life. Call on the online communities you’ve joined for feedback on new technologies and initiatives you’re kicking around.

Build your network and in return your strength as an association executive.

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