Couple of months back I had submitted my details to the International Who’s Who website.

The website is quite basic and does not provide details like:

  • How much the membership costs?
  • What are the direct benefits?
  • How many members do they have?
  • How many and which countries are represented?

Basically all the stuff that would help me decide whether or not to become a member of the association, was missing. Nonetheless, I submitted my details, eager to find out more about their association and how it would benefit me.

Last week, I got a call from their US office and was told that my submission had been “pre-approved” [ whatever that means ] and that someone from their office will be calling me on a certain day and they also gave me a time for the interview [ they did not tell me what the interview was for so I assumed they just want to find out more about me ]. I was thrilled – how cool would it be to be listed in the International Who’s Who! I waited anxiously for the call and last night a lady from their US office called me up.

I spoke with the lady [ or rather she spoke with me ] for 20 minutes – and she spent the last two minutes trying hard to sell me the membership. The other eighteen minutes were spent talking back and forth – she trying to find out more about me and me sharing the same information. Only in the last 2 minutes when I insisted she tell me some more about the association and how it would benefit me as a member did she give me generic reasons like:

  • You will be part of an international community
  • You will have the ability to send messages to all our members – great advertising opportunity
  • Only top CEO’s and senior management people are invited [ considering the fact that I am not a CEO and neither qualify as Senior Management ]
  • It will be fantastic exposure for you and your business, etc.

No specifics.
Then she told me I had two options to join – one a “Regular” membership where I paid 600 USD for the first year and the other a “Premium” membership where I paid 700 USD for the first year. She told me that the “Regular” membership option would be best suited.

Once again I asked her why I should join. This time she let me on to the number of members and the number of countries represented – apparently International Who’s Who has 90,000 members from 154 countries. My immediate thought was – “I am already on LinkedIn with over 4.2 million members and even openBC has many more members than this association – why am I wasting my time?”

I told her that I would need some time to find out more about the association – maybe dig deeper into their website and get in touch with current members – so that I know what I’m getting into. With that I was informed that “Our website won’t give you too many details and if you don’t decide on a membership option during this call, you won’t be considered for membership.

How do they expect potential members to sign up for their membership when they cannot even put up an informational website? And how can they expect a potential member to take a decision in twenty minutes of air-time when they don’t even share basic membership benefits – what is their USP – why should I become a member of International Who’s Who?

I politely told the lady that if I was expected to make a decision during the phone call, I’d just have to pass-up the “opportunity” this time around and with that I hung up.

I wonder what would happen if LinkedIn and openBC got down to spending even 10 minutes on the phone with people who’d signed up saying they’re interested in hearing more – they’d be flooded with membership requests because these two platforms have successfully been able to differentiate themselves from other networking platforms and also send a clear message what those differentiating factors and benefits are.