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Taking the Plunge: Year in the Life of a New Member

If you’ve thought of joining SMPS but were hesitant on what membership might entail, I’ve got a story for you. The story of my first year as an SMPS Member.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kristie, I’ve been an A/E/C Marketer for 8 years, and I just celebrated my one year anniversary of SMPS Membership with the Boston Chapter. I heard of SMPS prior to joining, but never (to quote our slogan of the year), “shook things up” enough to take the plunge (and what a plunge it’s been). What made me change my mind?

Upon recommendation from the Marketing Director from my old firm (Valerie Puchades) and encouragement from my current firm, I joined SMPS within my first two weeks of hire. I was encouraged to attend the New Member Corn Hole Tournament, which was taking place a few weeks later. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I love playing corn hole (even though I have terrible hand-eye coordination), so I figured why not?

Testing the Waters

Exhibit A: Me about to overthrow a beanbag at the Corn Hole Event

I’ll admit, when I first arrived, I was nervous. I didn’t really know anyone. This is somewhat ironic since I’m a theatre nerd and act in my spare time. I feel at home on the stage in front of a hundred people, so I should be used to introducing myself to strangers by now! However, I quickly realized that I did know these people (thank you, name tags!) – I often collaborated with them on proposals. It’s great to be able to put faces to the names of people I only knew via email and phone calls, and chat about the life surrounding the proposal process (finally, people who understand the challenges!), and life outside as well. This event also allowed me to test the networking waters, plus I’m always down for free drinks and snacks.

Networking and meeting other members

Anyone in the A/E/C industry knows that deadlines come first and the first quarter of the year can be very busy, so it was a while before I was able to attend another event: the Awards Gala. The Awards Gala is a great way to appreciate the effort that goes into the marketing and communications we do every day at work (registration is now open for the 2019 Awards Gala). It made me think about submissions my firm could do in the future. It also cast a light on the people and time spent behind the scenes to make SMPS successful. I met up with Valerie, who introduced me to a few of the members on other committees.

Valerie introducing me to other members at the Awards Gala

After the Gala, I decided to take the plunge and join two committees: Education and Communications. There was some concern about the ability to be on two committees with my work responsibilities, but as someone who was once in a total of 5 different shows at once in addition to working, I figured it would be doable.

The Plunge

Both committees allowed me to sit in on their calls. Conveniently for me, they took place on my work-from-home day; one before work (Education) and one after work (Communications). The fact that the meetings were outside of the work day was definitely appreciated.

Communications: The Communications Committee is responsible for the communication channels of our chapter. This includes updates via social media, the website, PR, online event set up, and e-flyers. I was psyched because I enjoyed working in the back end of websites in my previous positions and was eager to get back into it. I was immediately given some tasks updating the website. This led to my eventual contribution to the blog (I write the Fave Five.) and taking over the online event set up.

Education: The Education Committee is responsible for education events for members, and there are quite a few events we have to hone your skills:  software training, proposal workshops, business development seminars, and even a marketing boot camp! In our first meeting, we brainstormed ideas for the next year’s events. As the ideas were approved, we took turns liaising with presenters and venues to nail down details, creating surveys to help us learn what did and didn’t work for the attendees, and promoting the events via social media. I took on a little bit of everything, happy to pitch in when needed.

Other Committees: If neither of those sound like something you’re interested in, there are four other committees you can join. I almost thought about joining the Special Events committee because I love planning events (case in point: I’m currently planning my wedding and loving every minute of it), but I stuck with two to start. While I can’t speak to the inner workings of the other committees, you can find out more on our Join a Committee page.

Collaboration: A benefit to being on two committees meant I could be a go-between for initiatives that required coordination from both groups. This was especially useful when Communications worked with Education to create event recap blog posts.

I took on the first recap blog for the Business Development Panel (From Handshake to Hired: Building A Business Development Strategy that Suits Your Style) and let me tell you, I learned a lot from the panel. In the absence of a Business Development Leader at my firm, the panel gave me some pointers and insights I was able to bring back to our office leaders. Some of the suggestions even resulted in leads!

From Handshake to Hired Panel

Networking after the event – Can you spot me with the polka dot purse?

A few weeks later, I convinced my office to let me attend some SMPS sponsored seminars at ABX Boston. These events were beneficial to both me and my firm, providing some valuable insights on business development and client engagement. I was also able to network with some of the presenters and attendees.

As the new year began and proposals started piling on, I was able to step back from attending events and focus on promoting and supporting the behind the scenes work of the committees.

One tip I’d have is: Even if you can’t attend the actual events, at least come out to the Mix @ 6 afterwards. It’s a great opportunity to meet more members and you will often have a chance to network with the professionals from the events. It was at one of these that I finally met some other members of my Communications Committee!

Being on a committee, especially Education, means there’s opportunity to help run the events and audit them in return. If your company is hesitant on paying for your continuing education courses, this provides a great way to learn without the expense. I had the opportunity to do just this for the Marketing Boot Camp Seminar in April. Part of my job at Boot Camp involved introducing two of our speakers. While I was a little nervous getting up in front of my colleagues, (there’s still something different about giving a speech in front of your colleagues and performing a monologue for strangers on the stage) I did it.  The seminar covered a variety of topics including grace writing, networking, social media, and interpreting your DISC profile with a keynote address on the “Curse of the Consideration Set”. I’ll be writing a recap post on the event, but I came away with a variety of tips and new ways to think about how we approach marketing.

Katie Martell’s Keynote Address on the Curse of the Consideration Set


Teamwork makes the dream work and reveals how our different DISC personalities approach a task

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by Regina George….just kidding.

Just Keep Swimming

A few weeks ago, we had our annual SMPS Boston Volunteer Town Hall. Members from all the committees and the Board attended to brainstorm ways of making the next year even better for SMPS! There were a few ideas that I’m excited to start on, including training seminars for video marketing!

SMPS Boston Volunteer Town Hall

Coming full circle, our New Member Corn Hole Event will take place this Wednesday. If you’re thinking of joining SMPS, it should be noted that prospective members get to attend for free! If you spot me, come over and say hi. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have!

Why didn’t I join sooner?

Like other prospective members, I had some misconceptions about what SMPS was. Let me explain. No wait, there’s too much, let me sum up. I was in the A/E/C industry for 7 years but didn’t join because:

  1. I thought it was just a social group
  2. I didn’t know what value it would bring to my career
  3. I wasn’t sure about the cost of membership

To address items 1 & 2, I could not have been more wrong. Joining SMPS and specifically, joining committees, has expanded my skill set and network, which has proved valuable to me both personally and for my everyday marketing responsibilities. I was fortunate that my company paid for my membership, but even without my company’s help, I spend much more on an Adobe Cloud license than I do for a membership!

TL;DR – Being a member of SMPS certainly doesn’t have to be as involved, but your membership is what you make it. There are plenty of opportunities to join committees, get advice from a mentor, attend educational or professional development events/trainings (like CPSM!), network, hone your skills (or learn new ones!), make friends, and be the best marketer you can be. You just have to take the plunge like I did.


Kristie Norris


Kristie Norris is a Proposal Manager who enjoys theatre as a both a performer and audience member, horseback riding, and occasionally lifting kettlebells. She is a contributor for the Favorite Five blog series and a member of the Communications and Professional Development Committees.

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