"There are a bunch of clubs people keep telling me about. Which ones should I join?"
Depends on how much money you have :) Seriously, for the first year I would join three clubs and subscribe to one magazine.
1. National Clubs
There are two national BMW Motorcycle clubs, the BMW MOA and the BMW RA. They are as different as apples and oranges and while many riders are members of both, the rest seem to know pretty quickly which they prefer. The BMW MOA is certainly the larger club, offering a glossy monthly magazine and a large national rally. The BMW RA is smaller, and while the RA monthly magazine is not as fat or as colorful, it is packed with news and information and is more often than not the first to report on matters of import to the BMW motorcycling community. Both have comparable annual membership fees (~$25.) Both have informative websites.
2. National & Virtual Clubs
There are several smaller clubs dedicated to particular facets of the BMW motorcycling community. While they are usually broken out by the type of bike you ride, there are some like the Internet BMW Riders that are broken out by the method of interaction. Here is a short list:
3. Local Club
Your local club will initially be your most important club, though as you meet more and more local riders and grow familiar with your local motorcycling scene it may begin to be less and less of import. Many riders make the mistake of joining for the first few years then letting their membership lapse. Don't fall into this trap! Local news and events are just if not more important than national news and events, and there is nothing like your local club when you need it. Here is a list of all the BMW MOA Chartered Clubs (most local clubs are BMW MOA chartered) and the list of BMW RA chartered clubs.
OK, so you've joined some clubs ... now what?
First and foremost, go to events! Don't be discouraged if they are lightly attended or seem very "cliquish"! This is not intentional, most of these riders already know each other and after a long week of work are excited to see each other and anxious to go riding (often skipping the social aspect of the gatherings.). Don't hesitate for a second to walk up to the nearest rider and throw out a hand and introduce yourself. 99.9% of the BMW motorcycling community are wonderful people, the remainder are usually in a corner scowling ;)
Second, visit your local dealer and get to know him and his employees. Drop by on a Saturday morning and let him know you are a new owner. Often times good dealers will go out of their way to introduce new owners to longstanding members as they drop in for parts or to have a quick cup of coffee before a morning ride.
Lastly, go ride! Find out if your local club has breakfast rides or other such informal events where members gather to assemble and choose rides. Don't be afraid to ask if you can tag along, though be very careful to match your riding skills with those with whom you would ride.
(Thanks to some Tom for this one :))