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:~: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 :~:

The Benefits of Being Involved

I posted a comment in response to Elisabeth's post on Monday but somehow it disappeared into the ether. Now I'm thinking that might be a good thing because the thought has expanded and grown tentacles, as many things in my life tend to do.

Elisabeth wrote about being involved in RWA. As she mentioned, I'm starting a local chapter, and, Lord, I didn't realize how detailed and time consuming it would become. I mean, I knew. But I didn't know. It all feels so manageable from the start. Then it develops and takes on a life of it's own.

Mid-way through our first chapter meeting, when I realized my vision for the group was not the vision the group had for the group, one of the women said, "This is a little like a runaway train, isn't it?"

Yeah, I thought. A runaway train I'm trying to slow with a yank on the reins and my heels dragging through the dirt as I get pulled along.

Things don't always turn out the way you plan or expect. Sometimes that's good, sometimes not so much. Despite my Eeyore tendencies, there is an underlying optimism lurking inside, one that prods me to analyze the benefits that will arise from the path I've embarked on--maybe some in lieu of the ones I anticipated, maybe some in place of.

Because the chapter is small and so many members live quite a distance away, most of the duties typically shared among a group have fallen back on me. It's okay. For now. I tell myself I'm learning valuable skills--cultivating speakers puts me in touch with skilled, published authors, A.K.A. networking; scheduling media coverage of their visit teaches me promotion technique; organizing a book signing for them after their presentation to our chapter puts me in touch with key bookstore personnel who could be valuable allies in the future.

Those are just a few things I try to focus on when the load gets heavy--the perks never anticipated or even wanted, but ones I can see value in.

What are some things you've done that reaped unexpected benefits?



Blogger Paty Jager said...

You're right- contacting speakers is a great way to meet and become friends with people you normally wouldn't have met. It is one of the jobs I did as a VP for our chapter and one which allowed me to contact people I would not have had the gumption to contact otherwise.

And the reason I volunteered to do it for my local chapter. You never know when one of those contacts could come in handy in the future.

Offering to judge a contest helped me find a great CP, who is now my editor.

Which I forgot to mention in my response to Elisabeth- I've judged many RWA contests over the years.
There are so many ways you can give back to an organization of this size.

I have thought several times about starting a chapter in my neck of the woods, but when I look at all that has to be done, it is daunting, so I applaud you, Joan in your endeavor.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Thanks, Paty. It's coming along rather well (if we don't discuss the whole incorporation topic and RWA's lack of help in that area).

Judging contests is a great way to stay involved. I've done several as well. Cool story about you CP/Editor!!

5:05 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Joan, congrats on starting your own chapter. :) I could never do that--wouldn't even know where to start.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Thanks, Elisa. There's definitely a learning curve, but it's not horrible. :-)

4:56 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Networking is a valuable perk for all your hard work.

When I joined my chapter I hoped to simply learn about the market. What I didn't expect were the great friendships I made, the contacts (networking), the support and knowledge I've picked up along the way.

I'm glad you're getting something out of the experience. I have a feeling you'll continue to be surprised.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Thanks, E. That's definitely something to look forward to.

4:28 PM  

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