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Networking By Newsletter: Make Your Professional Organization Work Overtime

Aug 17, 2007
Your professional organization decides to send out a newsletter to the membership.
They need an editor. Should you volunteer? After all, nobody reads these things, do they?

That is what I thought when I was asked to edit a newsletter for the very first time. My group consisted of consumer psychology researchers and marketing managers.

"Just one thing," I said to the group's president. "Can I have a humor column?"

"You can have anything. We've had 3 editors in one year. We are desperate."

"Okay, but just for a year or so."

Six years later, I looked back on this experience as one of the most fun and most rewarding of my career.

Running a newsletter offers unique opportunities for self-promotion, networking and contributing uniquely to your organization. You create a vehicle for members to brag about themselves and each other. Along the way, you gain valuable exposure as a professional and as a writer.

Since then I've written newsletters and newsletter columns for others, including a neighborhood association and a fitness center.

Solo-preneur professionals often are surprised to discover the power of newsletters to help their organizations attract and retain members, as well as explode networking potential for themselves and their members. Here are 7 tips I like to share with my own clients.

(1) For the best newsletter content, spotlight your members.

Call them and ask, "May I interview you for a story?" People enjoy reading about the superstars, but they relate closely to stories of members like themselves.

Don't be surprised if "ordinary" members resist being interviewed, especially if they're also clients. They'll say, "I'm too shy," or, "Nobody wants to hear my story."

But once they're featured, they are loyal for life. While living in New Mexico, I wrote a newsletter for the fitness center where I worked out. They always asked for extra copies to take home. "Your name in print" still carries power even in a jaded society.

When your members are self-employed professionals, you don't even have to write the story. Just invite randomly chosen members to be "spotlight of the month." They'll come up with a promotional message that everyone will enjoy reading. I was on the fence about renewing a membership myself -- until I was invited to be in the spotlight one month. That group gets my dues next year.

(2) Double your coverage by assigning volunteers to interview each other.

Now you get 2 people to feel involved -- the interviewer and the interviewee. New members welcome the opportunity to make connections and maybe find a future mentor. You'll get senior members who normally would be too busy, because they realize they're making a direct contribution.

(3) Stir up as much controversy as possible.

No need to be dull.

My professional newsletter featured a humor column. Many readers were college professors (and I was too, at the time)so we created a satiric view of academic life, featuring heroine Maybelle Marketing, her cat Fluffy whose claws were registered as lethal weapons, and hints of midnight meetings with the mob. My column may not have done much for my academic career, but I honed my writing skills and got a lot of attention for the group and the paper.

This format may not be appropriate to your own organization. But maybe you can ask some senior members to write editorials. Some newsletters feature debates with pro vs. con statements on controversial issues.

(4)Celebrate every member's achievement you can find.

You don't have to wait for someone to win a national award. Your members will win marathon runs and coach winning soccer teams. They'll acquire promotions, houses, children and dogs....readers love this stuff.

You get the winners involved -- and you remind everyone that they're participating with a smart group of achievers.

(5) Recognize the power of networking with newsletters.

Everybody knows the newsletter editor and (if you do a good job) everybody wants to talk to you. After a surprisingly short time, you realize your newsletter practically writes itself. You are getting known faster than if you attended 22 networking luncheons.

It's the ultimate win-win: you get to brag about others and you display your own skills in a low-key, creative way.
About the Author
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., coaches and writes copy for service professionals who want to increase the marketing potential of their websites to attract clients and increase revenue. Visit
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