If you are a member of the local business community, there should be no reason why you are not a member of at least one organization.  There are a number of reasons why people decide to join organizations, with the four most common being:
They want to get involved.  Whether it’s with social activities, programs, events or service activities, some people just want to get more involved in their community.  This is especially common with people who have jobs that do not allow them to interact with other members of the community very often.

They want to develop new skills.  For those who want to develop new skills in their chosen field, industry-specific organizations can be key.  Not only do they get ongoing training on issues that are important to their field, but they also get to meet others who are in the same line of work.

They believe in the cause or purpose of the organization.  Many organizations have a mission such as helping underprivileged youth, working with animals or providing mentoring for those entering their career field.  Getting involved in an organization that has a mission is a great way to support your cause.

They want to increase their business.  For those who are looking to increase their business, networking or referral groups are often the organizations of choice.  These groups give you the opportunity to get to know others in the business community who can help get you more business by connecting you with others who need your products or services.

If you’re looking to join an organization, it’s important to know what your goal is and what you want to get out of your membership.  It’s also important to go into the group knowing that you need to put work into it (showing up to the meetings, attending events, getting on committees, etc.) to get something out of it.

Other considerations when deciding which group to join would be:

How much time it will take.  How much time are you willing to dedicate to your organization of choice?  Some groups meet weekly for an hour and a half, while others only meet once a month or even less frequently.  Decide how much time you can give up and where that time will come from (can you take a lunch break from work to attend meetings or will you be giving up personal time with your family to be in the group?).

The cost.  Costs of joining organizations can vary widely, so make sure you’re informed of the cost and can determine whether that cost is justified.  Remember, if your group is a referral group and the cost to join is a few hundred dollars a year, it only takes one good referral to pay for the cost.

If you know anyone in the group.  Do you know anyone else who is part of the group you’re considering joining?  Maybe you don’t want to know anyone so you’ll be forced to make new friends/work acquaintances.  Or maybe you know that you will be more likely to attend meetings or activities if you have a friend or two who is already going.  Whichever the case may be, take it into considering before joining.

Looking to join an organization in your community? Consider the following:

Center Sphere
Center Sphere is a group of business professionals whose mission is to share referrals, ideas, and resources. If you want to expand your business and contacts you should join. We only allow one trade/profession per group. We have a METHODICAL REFERRAL PROCESS that produces results. We use a method in which social interaction leads to stronger relationships for your business.

Center Sphere also utilizes technology to SAVE TIME with offline communication after business meetings. This allows every members voice to be heard. It also saves time when connecting and searching for resources for your business. We also provide co-op advertising programs to help each others business.

For more information about Center Sphere , please visit them online at www.centersphere.com.


Downtown Omaha Inc.
Downtown Omaha, Inc. is a nonprofit, privately funded corporation dedicated to helping the downtown community continue to be a viable, healthy, growing segment of Omaha.  The group allows members to network, stay informed of issues that affect their business and make an impact on the growing downtown Omaha area. The goal of the group is to inform, promote and unite the downtown community. Highlights of their activities include co-sponsoring the Holiday Lights Festival celebration, working to re-establish 16th Street as Omaha’s “Main Street”, publishing the Discover Downtown Directory , working with the City of Omaha to improve downtown parking and acting as a liaison to city, county, and state officials and key department heads on issues affecting downtown.  The group has its membership meetings the first Thursday of every month from 7:45 to 9:00 a.m. at the Scottish Rite building with speakers that are informational and exciting. They also have networking on the third Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at various downtown locations.

For more information about Downtown Omaha Inc., please visit them on the web at www.downtownomahainc.com.


Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations.  Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization has more than 270,000 members in over 13,000 clubs in 116 countries.  Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience.

Toastmasters provides the tools that enable employees to become effective presenters and leaders – all at a very low cost.  Toastmasters training helps employees:

• give better sales presentations
• hone their management skills
• work better with fellow employees
• effectively develop and present ideas
• offer constructive criticism
• accept feedback more objectively.

For information on Toastmasters Clubs in Omaha, Nebraska, contact: Kathy Henvey at (402) 650-1579 or email her at  henveyk24@cox.net. You can also visit their website at www.toastmasters.org.


Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce
The Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce is a privately-funded business and professional membership organization with over 800 members.  The Chamber provides a host of programs and services designed to advocate for business interests, stimulating local business growth and prosperity.

The Chamber offers networking events, promotes the community, provides marketing opportunities, represents the interests of business with government, and takes political action.  In addition, the Chamber is a resource center for visitors and individuals interested in relocating to the community.  The Chamber partners with Iowa Western Community College and SBDC to offer training programs for chamber members and their employees.

For more information Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, please  call (712) 325-1000 or visit www.councilbluffsiowa.com to join today!


BNI of the Heartland
BNI of the Heartland (Nebraska, Wyoming, Western South Dakota, and Southwest Iowa) offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and most importantly, business referrals. Currently with 37 chapters, over 800 members passed over 25000 referrals which generated over $12 million in closed business in 2011. That is an average of $477 per referral and 39 referrals per member, making the average seat worth nearly $19,000…over 5200% return on investment!!!

Belonging to BNI is like having dozens of sales people working for you that carry your business cards with them, and when they meet someone who could use your products or services, they take out your card and recommend you.

BNI provides a structured and supportive system of giving and receiving business. It does so by providing an environment in which you develop personal relationships with dozens of other qualified business professionals. By establishing this “formal” relationship with other people, you will have the opportunity to substantially increase your business.

For more information about BNI of the Heartland, please contact our regional office at 402-880-6311, email info@bniheartland.com or visit our website, www.bniheartland.com.


Rotary International
One Rotarian said, “I came for the networking but stayed for the service opportunities.” Rotary International is an organization that brings together community and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, growth and welfare of our city, and help build good will and peace in the world. Rotary Clubs help many organizations both locally and internationally and is part of an international effort to eradicate polio.

Of the 13 clubs and 2,500 Rotary members in the Omaha metropolitan area, the Rotary Club of Omaha is the oldest and largest, with over 200 members. Over the last century the Rotary Club of Omaha has been responsible for helping to establish and support many local organizations including the Boy Scouts, Easter Seal Society and J.P. Lord School.  Over the last 85 years the Rotary Honor Roll program has recognized over 10,000 local eighth grade students for outstanding achievements.

For more information about membership to Rotary International, please call 402-342-0281 or go to www.omaharotary.org.


The Omaha Jaycees
The Omaha Jaycees, as the oldest young professional organization in Omaha, has been building leaders since 1921.  This is accomplished through individual development, community involvement, management opportunities, and networking events.

Through training and volunteering, the Jaycees can help you grow both personally and professionally.  Members can learn management skills by running projects both large and small.  Personal and professional growth is achieved by networking with professionals from around the world in a variety of fields including:  banking, law, military, psychology, education, and many more.

What separates the Jaycees from other groups is our commitment to the community.  Plus, as an Omaha Jaycee you are part of the national and international Jaycees.

Join the Omaha Jaycees and learn how you can make a difference! at www.omahajaycees.org.


Nebraska Mortgage Association
Members of the Nebraska Mortgage Association experience an environment that enhances their efforts to invest in their communities while achieving their business objectives. Opportunities provided by NMA to network with people with vast knowledge and experience in the mortgage lending industry is priceless – especially in these times of constant change in regulations and the current economy! Members gain valuable insight from collaborating with peers in their profession and participating in NMA’s educational events. The Nebraska Mortgage Association’s mission includes being the voice of real estate finance in Nebraska, and membership in NMA adds credibility and boosts company image within the community.

Throughout the year the Nebraska Mortgage Association provides education and industry training opportunities in various locations throughout the state. NMA also presents an annual conference for members to socialize and attend industry and motivational sessions, as well as network with industry related vendors and lending associates. In addition, NMA actively monitors legislation that impacts the mortgage lending industry and represents the interests of association members in the Nebraska legislative system.

For more information on Nebraska Mortgage Association, please visit us on the web at: www.NebraskaMortgageAssociation.org.


Greater Omaha Chamber
Voice for Business

As the catalyst organization for business growth, the Greater Omaha Chamber is dedicated to enhancing the environment so your business can thrive.

We understand that each business has a different need, that’s why we’ll customize a membership just for you. Whether yours is a business with one employee or thousands, the Chamber provides members expertise, training, tools, information and opportunities to connect with other Greater Omaha business people at more than 100 events a year. We advocate for a pro-business climate at the federal, state and local level — and so much more. Everything we do is designed to grow successful businesses.

Why you should join us!

When you join the Greater Omaha Chamber, you get unique access to a wide variety of businesses and people. There is no other single organization in the region that encompasses the majority of major employers, as well as thousands of the area’s small and mid-size businesses.

The Greater Omaha Chamber has something for everyone. At the end of the day we want members to say “My Chamber helped my business.”

Invest in your success; join the Greater Omaha Chamber, 402-346-5000 or visit our website at www.OmahaChamber.org/Join.


The American Society for Training and Development: Nebraska Chapter
ASTD Nebraska is an organization dedicated to today’s workplace learning and performance professionals. If the person who trained you at your job was exceptionally good at facilitating your learning, he or she might be a member of our organization.

ASTD Nebraska is a local chapter of The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the world’s largest association dedicated to workplace learning and performance (WLP) professionals. Our mission is to “enhance members’ abilities to train, develop and support clients and organizations and our local global communities.” We provide our 300+ members with quality resources, networking opportunities, and continuing education.

If you are a WLP professional—perhaps you just call yourself a corporate trainer, a mentor, or a coach—we can help you take your career to the next level.. www.astdnebraska.org.


Sarpy County
Sarpy County is one of the fastest growing counties in Nebraska.  We anticipate record growth of business and residents in the coming decade and we are prepared for it.  As nice as it is to be touted as one of Nebraska’s shining stars, it’s not our vision to be the biggest but it is our desire to be the best. Our focus is you, the business community.  You are our inspiration.

What can we do to make 2012 your best year yet?

The team at the Sarpy County Chamber of Commerce and its Board of Directors asks themselves this continually.  It is the answer to that question that guides us when we are planning events, providing educational services to business or when we look at the big picture and future growth of Sarpy County.

If you aren’t successful then we aren’t successful.  Join us and other Sarpy County businesses as we continue to get brighter and brighter.  Visit us on the web at www.sarpychamber.org.


The national construction market may be in a slump, but the Greater Omaha Chapter of the National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC) hasn’t let that slow them down.  In February they held their annual Block Kids event, exposing over 100 children to the construction field.

NAWIC is open to any woman working in the construction industry.  Current members are from diverse firms such as BLAND & ASSOCIATES, P.C., CPAs; Boyd Jones Construction Co.; Commercial Flooring Systems, Inc.; Drake-Williams Steel, Inc.; Eyman Plumbing, Inc.; Standard Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.; Union Agency, Inc.; and The Weitz Company.  Evening meetings are held the 2nd Thursday of each month and include dinner, professional education, and a general membership meeting.  Membership provides opportunities for leadership positions, networking, professional education, and community outreach.  Regional and National conferences are held annually and Certifications are available through the NAWIC Education Foundation (www.nawiceducation.org) and Clemson University.

Chapter President, Martha Bang (mbang@boydjones.biz) invites anyone who is interested to attend a meeting saying “Guests are always welcome!”

More information about NAWIC is available on the web at www.nawicomaha.com or www.nawic.org.