Do You Have a High Return on Involvement?

By David Nour

Businesspeople immediately equate ROI with Return on Investment. ROI is the ratio of money gained or lost on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. However, there is a considerable amount of time and energy invested in an organization’s activities in addition to money. Is there a way to quantify your Return on Involvement… also expressed as ROI, particularly when it comes to how much time is spent on activities outside your company designed to increase your market presence?

Many people believe that the sheer number of extra-curricular activities will enhance overall market presence – particularly in professional services, where it is considerably more difficult to elevate your intangible value-add. But, simply joining 15 boards and showing up for meet and greets will not suffice. Time is Money

A much tighter focus on a prioritized select few, with a greater impact on execution, is the answer to stronger market presence. Your involvement with any intra-company forum to exchange ideas – as well as the more traditional externally focused avenues such as industry associations, professional affiliations, or accreditation bodies – all demand a considerable investment of your limited time, effort and resources. Although many understand intuitively the potentially influential and certainly the equity value of their involvements, very few measure the actual cost – much less the opportunity cost.

For example, I am involved in well over a dozen organizations. In the past, I used to attend their various functions, volunteer for countless causes, and became immersed in each of their respective missions. But when you continue to attend, provide ideas and insight, your time, capital and introductions to influential relationships, when do you ever get a chance to ascertain a return on your involvement?

In my case, I even reached a point of diminishing returns in which critical personal and professional relationships were being neglected at the cost of attending yet another event or function, engaging with people or organizations I didn’t much care for. By reducing the quantity and focusing on a select few most applicable to your personal and professional goals and objectives, you not only create more discretionary time – but the investments you choose to make will tend to create a higher return.

How to Maximize your Return on Involvement

Generally, three fundamental functions become the critical arteries of an organization’s sustainability: membership, programming and fundraising. To maximize your return on involvement, take a leadership role in one of these critical functions. Join a few select boards, and through the execution of critical milestones, you’ll earn the trust and respect of your peers to exert influence from that active and impactful involvement.

Choose fewer organizations with high quality personal or professional members who are decidedly relevant to your personal or professional endeavors. Aim to attend or help create content-rich events with actionable takeaways, not simply a motivational rah-rah. Recommend or help create multiple revenue streams so the organization does not rely solely on membership dues or corporate sponsorships of a single annual event. And particularly in volunteer-based organizations, become the connector, the collaborator, and the consensus builder with a track record of execution.

Being mindful of your Return on Involvement will allow you to judiciously spend your time where it will do the most good on all fronts!

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