If you’ve ever thought about becoming a professional organizer or productivity consultant, you’ve probably wondered whether you should join the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). Let me share some of the many reasons why pro organizers, like me, join NAPO.
To understand how it can help you in your business, think of NAPO as a “university” or a place where you can get education for every phase of your career. There are a range of benefits, from NAPO’s provisional membership (the “freshman class” status shared by all brand-new members) to the “post-graduate level” of ongoing support.
First, NAPO provides a lot of free information, available to the general public right now, including:
- The Stand Out podcast (Be sure to listen to Episode 1, “Secrets of Success with Geralin Thomas,” where I was honored to be the very first guest!)
- NAPO’s social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flicker, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Next, get the most from your NAPO membership by using all the resources that help new organizers start their businesses. One of the most popular member benefits for “freshman” organizers and “upper-classmen” is the very lively private social network, The NAPO POINT (Productivity and Organizing Interactive Networking Tool)
Advice From Fellow Organizers: The NAPO POINT
If you decide to join NAPO and take advantage of POINT, let me tell you that navigating POINT can be a challenge for many freshmen as it’s not completely intuitive. It can be a bit “clunky,” so here’s my best freshman advice:
Complete your POINT profile. Note that you must be logged in twice, once as a member and again on POINT.
The views of different pages can look different depending on what device you are using, so be aware that what you see may not exactly match what another person is looking at.
The POINT is a fantastic place to get many of your questions about running your business answered. Before posting a question, search the POINT archives. Many of the topics are “evergreen,” meaning they come up on a regular basis. So, for example, if you would like to benefit from the wisdom of other organizers on a question about how to select a business name or what to look for in a liability insurance policy or how different organizers handle their client cancellation policy, check the archives because you’ll find a lot of other organizers’ experiences and advice.
Here’s one of my “pro tips:” if you’ve searched the POINT archives and the answers seem outdated or don’t address your specific question, begin your post by saying, “I’ve searched the archives and I still have this question…” This shows other participants that you have done your homework, and they will typically be very willing to help.
When searching POINT for topics, quotation marks are a must, so search for “insurance” rather than the word alone. Use key words – for example, marketing, branding, business forms, and so on – to narrow your search for best results. There’s even a video on how to search POINT that can shorten your learning curve. It’s title is “How to Search POINT Archives.”
Finding Your Way Around
One of the strongest reasons to join NAPO is so you can take advantage of its education offerings. And like looking at a college catalog for the first time, choosing among NAPO’s many opportunities can feel like almost too much of a good thing! Here are some offerings that are automatically included with your membership:
- Webinars – there is New Member Orientation, Business Building Blocks (best business practices), and Ask the Pro (frequently asked questions about hot industry topics)
- New Member Kit, including basic business forms for new members. (If you’d like to add another layer of professional polish, I sell a package of forms customizable to your business that will take you to the “varsity” level. Available on my website, it’s called New Organizers’ Essentials.)
- Regular mail and email announcements, including a weekly to-do list from NAPO’s President and blog posts from industry experts and colleagues.
NAPO University offers both live webinars and on-demand courses on a huge variety of topics for an additional fee. Even if you don’t join NAPO, I suggest investing six hours in two of the courses that I teach:
1-001: Introduction to Professional Organizing and Productivity
1-104: Starting an Organizing or Productivity Business
Both of these courses are like “freshman basics,” packed with industry information. By helping you understand what is involved in starting your own organizing and productivity business, they will save you a lot of frustration and wasted effort.
Note that live courses are identified with “L” followed by the course number, while on-demand courses are labeled “OD” and the same number. The course content is the same, whichever one you choose.
Smaller Groups for Specific Interests
Your NAPO membership unlocks doors to many resources available for an additional fee. In addition to NAPO University, don’t overlook these benefits available to members only:
Local chapters – NAPO has over 30 chapters throughout the United States. Meeting schedules and programs are decided by each chapter, so be sure to see what’s available in your region.
Virtual Chapter – Members across the world join the Virtual Chapter for continuing education and opportunities to engage with other members in a virtual, online community. (Some members join both a local chapter and the Virtual Chapter.)
Special Interest Groups (SIGs) – There are groups for those who specialize in moving and relocation, photo organizing, working with seniors, authorship, and many more specialties. Each SIG has its own membership criteria, so once you have your bearings in the world of NAPO you can investigate further.
Annual Conference – many organizers find there is nothing quite like the annual conference to rev up their business with new ideas, valuable connections with colleagues, and sheer inspiration.
Is becoming a Certified Professional Organizer ® (CPO) right for you? This topic is somewhat beyond our “freshman” focus here, but when you’re ready to explore certification, you can find lots of details on my blog in a guest post written by Julie Bestry titled “Everything You Want to Know About Becoming a Certified Professional Organizer.” And while certification is open to non-members, note that NAPO members pay a reduced fee for the certification exam.
Please note that becoming certified and earning certificates are two very different things. These two things sound alike but are not the same. It’s important that you do not call yourself a CPO until you’ve earned the CPO credentials.
When Is “Graduation?”
Unlike college, when you own your own business, there is no “final exam.” NAPO offers education and support for every phase of your career. Think of NAPO as your partner in life-long learning.
Do you have more questions about starting or growing your organizing business? Do you want help applying my tactics and techniques to your business? I offer one-on-one career coaching by phone. Ask me anything! You can learn more and book your appointment here.