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Professional Networking: Don’t Laugh At The Moose or Elk
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Professional Networking: Don’t Laugh At The Moose or Elk - Executive Leadership Articles

Professional Networking: Don’t Laugh At The Moose or Elk

Executive Leadership Articles

Professional Networking: Don’t Laugh At The Moose or Elk

We wouldn’t blame you for chuckling at the thought of joining a fraternal or civic organization for the purposes of increasing your professional network. The mention of some of these secret societies brings to mind all sorts of urban legends, conspiracy theories, and Dan Brown novels. Whether any of these legends are true or not is difficult for non-members to say, and since members seem to be bound by rules of secrecy, perhaps the only way to know for sure is to join up.

Yet it isn’t too difficult to find people already in our network who belong to any of these orders, or are close to someone who does, and many will tell you that the networking opportunities are terrific, and the benefits of membership are life-enriching.

Please note that while we use the term “fraternal,” many groups are either already open to men and women, or they have sister organizations sharing the same missions and even facilities.

A recent comparison of fraternal societies revealed many similarities. Most are membership by invitation only, most require some spoken commitment to community service, and most require a very loosely defined belief in a supreme being. There are hazily outlined initiation ceremonies and membership requirements (such as a certain number of hours of community service), not to mention dues.

Among commonly known fraternal organizations are the Knights of Columbus, the Freemasons, the Loyal Order of Moose, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The names—not to mention the ceremonial attire—may take some getting used to, but depending on your location, the local “lodge” can be a place to unwind, interact with like-minded people, work side-by-side on community projects, and get to know a range of people from various backgrounds. The facility itself may be a barebones lounge-type clubhouse or it may be a resort-type beach club literally on a beach with a complete restaurant and party rooms.

Civic clubs have a lot in common with fraternal societies, but they tend to lean secular and slightly less secretive. Membership is still very often by invitation only, but members tend to be much more visible in public, meaning it’s not difficult to become acquainted with them. Clubs you’ve probably heard of include Rotary International, the Lions Club, Kiwanis International, and the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (“Jaycees”).

What almost all of these groups have in common is a desire among members to support each other, so once you’re in, your fellow Moose or Rotarians will be eager to get to know you (and for you to get to know them), automatically expanding your network in many directions at once. And since one of the stated missions of many groups is to develop community leaders as well as community servants, opportunities to grow your leadership skills abound. You’ll be demonstrating leadership among community leaders, and who couldn’t use a little more of that in their life?

There’s no question that belonging to groups like this is not for everyone, which means if you try to fit in when fitting in like this just isn’t in you, you’ll probably set yourself up for disappointment. But if the stated purpose of any of these groups hits a note, and if you’re looking to get to know others who feel the same way, do a little bit of research for groups in your area, and send an email. We all need somewhere to belong; perhaps you belong in a lodge.

 

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Professional Networking: Don’t Laugh At The Moose or Elk - Executive Leadership Articles

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