The freelance economy is bringing a wave of disruption that will have world-wide impact. Sixty million Americans are freelance workers, and that number is growing. A typical contract employee is comfortable with limited supervision and adapts easily to a variety of environments and cultures. Whether freelancers work from home, at a client site or move fluidly between venues, they will change the way associations operate.

Freelancers aren’t generally thought of as part of the team. They are referred to as “remote” or “offsite” workers. That mindset must be updated. Freelancers are an incredible resource that can add depth of experience and specialized skills to an association’s human capital. I view hiring freelancers as smart sourcing—augmenting teams with talent as needed and building your bench in ways that are both intelligent and efficient. Several of my consulting clients have already demonstrated how successful this strategy can be.

HOW SMART SOURCING CAN WORK FOR YOU

Smart sourcing can turn great teams into exceptional performers. Business units, from IT to membership and meeting services, may include a combination of full-time and contract staff, but everyone shares information and works collaboratively. One of the advantages of hiring freelancers is that location doesn’t trump talent. If that perfect market analyst lives in Anchorage and your office is in Dallas—no worries. Video conferencing and cloud computing have made working across geography almost seamless.

It’s important to remember that leading a virtual team will require adjustments in communication and culture. Managers need to formalize processes and tools to ensure that everyone understands their personal roles and responsibilities and is also aware of the big picture. Opportunities for the group to provide feedback and input and to make quick decisions or operational adjustments should be built into the workflow. Location specific details such as differences in time zones and schedules are among the issues that might need to be resolved.

The virtual team is not really a novelty for associations. Think about the members who vet the content at annual proceedings, who review certification proposals or serve on your boards and committees. Volunteers are the heart of your association, and full-time employees have been working successfully alongside them for years. Our industry is well positioned to turn this wave of disruption into a significant opportunity. But the future is unfolding quickly, and to take advantage of this rich resource we must be prepared.

Kevin spoke in the “The Future is Now—Get Ready to Work It” session during SURGE Co-Creation, an interactive virtual conference hosted by AssociationSuccess.org on May 1-3rd. Click here to watch the sessions on demand.

Steve Jobs said, “The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Since the day I first stuck a toe into the workplace, I’ve taken that advice seriously. I strive to live, breathe and think like an entrepreneur and to bring that level of commitment to my consulting clients at .orgSource and the association leaders in .orgCommunity.

I’ve been riding the cutting-edge of technology and loving it, for as long as I can remember. .orgCommunity is the sixth company that I have watched grow from the ground up. My dream of being a software/technology entrepreneur has found a home in the association space. Supporting my nonprofit consulting clients and colleagues to successfully integrate all things electronic into their business models rewards me in countless ways.

The following experiences and skills have contributed to my ability to guide other professionals as they position their organizations for success in a challenging future:

• 20 plus years of helping associations to develop technology solutions that are strategic, results-oriented and effective
• Partner in .orgSource, helping hundreds of associations develop technological solutions
• Co-founder of .orgCommunity, offering unique networking, professional development and relationship building experiences to association professionals and their corporate partners
• Enthusiastic volunteer for a myriad of association and nonprofit organizations
• Speaker, writer, promoter
• Futurist, problem-solver, collaborator
• Advocate for all things association

Steve Jobs said, “The people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Since the day I first stuck a toe into the workplace, I’ve taken that advice seriously. I strive to live, breathe and think like an entrepreneur and to bring that level of commitment to my consulting clients at .orgSource and the association leaders in .orgCommunity. I’ve been riding the cutting-edge of technology and loving it, for as long as I can remember. .orgCommunity is the sixth company that I have watched grow from the ground up. My dream of being a software/technology entrepreneur has found a home in the association space. Supporting my nonprofit consulting clients and colleagues to successfully integrate all things electronic into their business models rewards me in countless ways. The following experiences and skills have contributed to my ability to guide other professionals as they position their organizations for success in a challenging future: • 20 plus years of helping associations to develop technology solutions that are strategic, results-oriented and effective • Partner in .orgSource, helping hundreds of associations develop technological solutions • Co-founder of .orgCommunity, offering unique networking, professional development and relationship building experiences to association professionals and their corporate partners • Enthusiastic volunteer for a myriad of association and nonprofit organizations • Speaker, writer, promoter • Futurist, problem-solver, collaborator • Advocate for all things association

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