Conversations by Association
2.12: Creating a Personal and Professional Network with Sheri Jacobs and Greg Fine
Jul 2, 2020 · 36 min
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Where you sit in a room can have a profound effect on your future. On this episode of Conversations by Association, Sheri Jacobs describes attending an ASAE Membership Symposium many years ago where she knew no one. She chose a seat at a table that looked inviting and ended up next to Greg Fine. Although neither of them knew it then, it was the beginning of a strong friendship and professional bond that would deepen and grow over time. Sheri and Greg share the importance of creating informal professional personal communities of peers early in one’s career. Hear how they’ve established a trusting relationship a symbolic “vault” with each other – a term they use to describe the time, space and place where they discuss and store sensitive or difficult conversations, insights, candor and wisdom shared with one another. Both emphasize, if you’re going to be a leader, you need someone who you can be vulnerable with, who will support you in good times and bad, and who will always tell you the truth.

Sheri Jacobs, FASAE CAE
Founder, Avenue M Group

“Allow yourself to try different things and it’s ok to say, ‘this isn’t the right avenue for me.'”

As the founder of Avenue M Group, Sheri Jacobs is a leader, innovator, and visionary who has helped associations of all sizes tackle their most challenging issues.

People who meet Sheri quickly learn that her high energy and enthusiasm are a perfect combination for someone who is an avid marathoner. Having completed more than a dozen marathons, including the Boston Marathon, Sheri sees a clear correlation between training for a marathon and developing and executing a marketing plan. Training for a marathon requires making a commitment of resources, time, energy, and passion, along with the right set of tools and the support of others. The sense of accomplishment you feel when you cross the finish line of a marathon may far surpasses how you feel when you finish a 5k race. Association marketing is very similar. Success rarely happens overnight, but with the right planning, energy, passion, and assistance, anything is possible.

As a senior executive and an association management veteran with more than 15 years of experience, Sheri applied her experience in market research, marketing, strategy, and branding projects to create a unique firm that helps associations meet their goals.

Sheri started her nonprofit career in the development office of the Chicago Children’s Museum and moved into marketing after becoming a founding officer of Picture This Projects. Sheri transitioned from the philanthropic community to the association community in 1994 when she became the director of membership and marketing at the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. She expanded her knowledge further when she joined the American Bar Association in 1999.

In 2002, Sheri joined the Association Forum of Chicagoland as the chief marketing officer and director of membership. During her tenure at the Association Forum, Sheri built award-winning campaigns that resulted in double-digit growth of membership and educational attendance.

Sheri is a top-rated speaker and a contributor to various associations and publications including the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Center publication Decision to Join. She is a past chair of the ASAE Membership Council and Marketing Council. Sheri is a member of the ASAE Healthcare Committee and Foundation Development Committee. In addition, Sheri’s success in her field has led her to become an accomplished author. She is the co-editor and contributor of ASAE’s best-selling membership book, Membership Essentials, and the author of the marketing book, 199 Ideas: Powerful Marketing Tactics That Sell. ASAE and Jossey-Bass published Sheri’s latest book, The Art of Membership, in 2013. Sheri earned her Bachelor of Arts in History and Journalism from Indiana University and went on to become a Certified Association Executive in 2003.

Greg Fine, FASAE CAE
Executive Vice President and CEO, CCIM Institute (Certified Commercial Investment Member)

“I stepped back and actually realized along the way how many people, in my career, had done something that got me to be where I was.”

Gregory J. Fine is a recognized association executive and leader with more than 21 years of helping membership-based organizations grow and prosper. As the executive vice president and chief executive officer (CEO) of CCIM Institute, he heads up a 13,000-member professional association with members located in 30 countries. He also is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. Prior to CCIM Institute, Gregory served as the global CEO of the Turnaround Management Association and vice president of marketing and communications for the Association for Corporate Growth.

Gregory also is actively engaged in nonprofits, having served on the boards of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), ASAE Foundation, and Association Media and Publishing. He is faculty emeritus for the Chamber’s Institute of Organizational Management and served on the faculty for the New York Society of Association Executives and the Association Forum of Chicago Certified Association Executive prep courses. He was invited to join the ASAE Fellows in 2017 and was awarded ASAE’s Certified Association Executive designation in June 2003. A prolific writer and speaker, he has written for FORUM, Associations Now, and Signature magazines and has given presentations about strategy, leadership, multigenerational workforce, association trends, social media, membership, marketing, and volunteerism to audiences all over the world.

Among many awards, Gregory received the 2017 Association Forum’s Inspiring Leader award; the 2009 Young and Aspiring Association Professional award by Association TRENDS; and the Angerosa Research Foundation’s inaugural 2008 Publishing Trendsetter award, an award recognizing innovation that advances association publishing.

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