If you follow the news, you probably heard that this week’s well-attended Nelson Mandela memorial featured a sign language interpreter who wasn’t actually signing correctly. Besides being really offensive to the deaf community and incredibly embarrassing for this globally-viewed event, I noticed something really interesting when this story crossed in Associations Now: it was really the perfect platform for the Deaf Federation of South Africa to tap into a news event.
Associations across the US and around the world have to struggle for media attention, which seems strange because association leaders are truly the experts in their field. For every news story that crosses the papers, TV, radio, and Internet there’s an association pro out there who can comment intelligently on the piece and add some perspective.
In the Associations Now article, writer Ernie Smith notes that the association commented that they’ve filed complaints about the interpreter before, as he has stood besides other world leaders and apparently was not signing correctly. The article then goes on to note the support from other Sign Language Associations and an emphasis on the importance of properly vetting interpreters.
So how can your association tap into a news event, like DeafSA did in this instance? Here are a few quick tips:
1) Keep an eye on the news, especially local goings-on that directly affect the community. You’ll know when something resonates with you or one of your members’ expertise
2) Find out who from your association is willing to potentially talk to the media as a recognized and named source. It doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal, but there are many people out there who would rather not have their names published or image captured by camera, and in some cases with some professions, jobs or legal issues may make it illegal or dangerous to be on camera. That consent stage is important.
3) Put your heads together. Get those willing to speak to the press, your board, and any other crucial people in on the brainstorming, and come up with a succinct statement that you can E-mail or read quickly on voice mail.
4) Once you have a few members who are knowledgeable and willing to speak to the media and a statement, just call your local TV station or get in touch with the reporter directly who is covering the story. Many news reporters are publicly sharing their contact information via social media. Hit them with your pitch, be sure to include your contact information, and wait. Chances are if you don’t hear back in a few hours the journalist might have enough in the way of sources or quotes, but it never hurts to ask.
5) Remember that even if they don’t call you on this story, there will always be another one. Keep up this practice, and let local reporters know that you are a good source for insight and information, and are willing and able to add another, possibly untapped, dimension to the story.
If you do get on the news or in the paper, help the news outlet promote it! Be sure to share with your members and on social media and your website. It adds legitimacy to your group and spreads the word about your works with actually a comparatively small effort from you.
One final word of advice: don’t crowbar yourself into the news. If a statement from your association is warranted and would add dimension and color to the story, go for it. But keep in mind that every news outlet gets twice as many fake tips as real ones, and they screen their calls pretty carefully. Don’t be offended if you don’t get called back or picked up right away. Just keep swimming! Your story is out there!
With all the financial considerations going on in the last weeks of this year/the first weeks of 2014, many of your members and probably even some board members or staffers could be looking at retirement in the near future.
But that doesn’t mean your association has to lose them! In fact, I’ll bet you already have several active retired people in your membership base.
Here are the top five changes to be aware of if some of your membership is entering retirement:
Obviously this is a big one! That regular income is no more and instead the new retiree is living on savings, a pension, or possibly a fixed income with social security. Some associations have a special dues and events rate for retirees in the field with those new income considerations in mind.
The Affordable Care Act is changing the health care landscape for retirees as well. Does the trade that your association represents have any particular health issues common with advanced age? It might be a good thing to address!
Potential to relocate
Upon retiring, many people choose to relocate. Regardless of the reason, why not help them be successful with another chapter, or even start one of their own?
Changes in scheduling
You may think that newly retired people have tons of spare time now, so getting them to every meeting and event will be easy. You’d be mistaken. First of all, just because a person retires from a career move doesn’t mean that they’re not working part time jobs or consulting. That could mean more unpredictable hours. Not to mention vacation schedules and family visits could interrupt business as usual as well.
Changes in interest
Not to say that retirees don’t care anymore about the day-to-day processes in their career, but their focus may have shifted. If you find your association has more retired persons lately, ask them what they would really like the association to focus on.
Now consider all the benefits of having seasoned employees or retired persons in your associations. The connections and networking is unparalleled! Not to mention the ages of experience and skills development. Those who retire today were yesterdays’ high-level managers! Perhaps now would be a good time for a networking event?
Need some help planning those events? Download our free guide!
People start making a lot of promises at the end of the year. A lot of times they’re personal:
“I’m going to be good starting the first of the year. This is my last bowl of ice cream, I swear.”
“I’m going to take every networking opportunity I am presented in 2014! It’s okay if I skip the December event.”
But sometimes they’re promises we make to others:
“We’ll reevaluate that in the New Year.”
You’ve said it. It’s been said to you. So how do you make that statement that unfortunately often gets lost in the excitement at the start of the year stick?
Often it’s not a matter of a “brush off” but it genuinely is an oversight. When an idea that you need to address in January is proposed, set up a meeting about it right away. There are all kinds of added benefits to that plan.
1) It’ll serve as immediate validation for the person with whom you’re speaking. Not only did you actively hear the idea, but you want to discuss it further.
2) It’ll cause both you and the idea-proposer to further evaluate the idea itself. Sometimes, that may resolve issues, make either or both of you realize that the idea is unfeasible or a total winner.
3) If nothing else, it’ll be a reminder to address the issue.
So what happens if the shoe is on the other foot? You have an idea or issue that you would like to see addressed, and in these late December weeks it gets pushed off until the New Year here are some tips to make that proposal stick if you can’t get a meeting set right away.
1) Set a reminder for you to follow up. In other words, mark your own calendar!!
2) Mention it to someone else, like another staff member, another association member, or even on an AMS forum.
3) Get your ducks in a row before the pitch. In other words, make it impossible for them to look away.
Finally, whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of the good ‘ol “We’ll look at that after the New Year” don’t lose heart. January is an insane month! Everyone is focused, working hard, and then going to the gym to boot. If you don’t get it looked at in January, try again in February.
Looking for a space to collaborate? How about an AMS?
I’ll bet if we ask any staffer or big volunteer in any association across the country what’s on their holiday wish list, “More Member Engagement!” would be near the top of not #1.
It makes sense! Engagement is really at the core of most associations’ goals. After all whether the goal is major social and political change or simply a group of people with similar interests, it all starts with members who show up, participate, and return.
Engagement is also at the heart of renewed dues, word-of-mouth growth, and new ideas. It’s also where new leaders emerge who can tap into the ever-growing, younger market segment and bring your association into the future.
We wrote a guide to make member engagement seem like a piece of cake! Well, at the very least it’ll give you some clear goals and ideas for tackling the sometimes-tough task in 2014!
-The differences between one-on-one, smaller group interactions, meetings, and huge groups (besides the obvious) and how to handle each.
-The best way to pump up your online engagement
-Other ways of engaging that you might not have thought of
-Why some seemingly “passé” methods of engagement are still tried and true!
Download our guide here. Happy Networking!
I check LinkedIn every day, and that's rarely a waste of time. At least one of the 500+ people in my network posts something useful, funny, or interesting. Not to mention all the great association-related groups I'm lucky enough to be a part of!
Here is some of the best content I've found from those groups this week.
From the Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC) Group
Six Steps for Stability in Board Succession by Annette Medlin
"Review Requirements for Each Position. Take a look at existing job descriptions. If they don’t exist, write them. Put together an organization chart showing the chain of command. As you review existing protocol, revise and restructure as necessary."
From the Georgia Society for Association Executives (GSAE) Group
Three Tools to Promote Not-For-Profit Organizations with Form 990 by Save Sietsma
"In today’s competitive environment, it is important to maximize the utility of all available tools – including the Form 990 tax return. Remember, Form 990 is a public document that will be viewed by existing and potential donors, as well as the general public. CRI’s nonprofit CPAs can help your organization file a comprehensive Form 990 that builds support for your fund raising efforts."
From the "Marketing an Association" Group
Sir Alex Ferguston Reveals Eight Secrets of Success in Managing Teams by Anita E.
"When you give young people a chance, you not only create a longer life span for the team, you also create loyalty. They will always remember that you were the manager who gave them their first opportunity."
From the Member Engagement- For Online Community and Membership Professionals Group
Member Relationships by Meagan Rockett
There's nothing to quote here because it's an infographic of a summer survey of Canadian Association Executives. It's great! Check it out!
From the YAP (Young Association Professionals) Group
9 Disruptive Ideas for Associations to Watch by Ernie Smith
"The ahead-of the-curve disruptions on this list aren’t all technology-related, but they all challenge expectations—they swim upstream, zagging when everyone else is zigging. They don’t represent the status quo at the moment—but there’s a good chance that, given a little time, the status quo could catch up to get here. They may not make sense for you right now, but they make sense for somebody now, and they could for you later."
Need some help getting started with LinkedIn or other social media?
Have you ever REALLY listened to “Santa Baby?” If you haven’t, take a listen. The amount of stuff she asks for is absurd. Now granted in the spirit of catchy holiday music the song is supposed to have a Betty Boop-esque satirical charm, but it makes me think of the articles that come out every year detailing an approximate cost of the 12 Days of Christmas in modern times.
And that, of course, led me to be concerned about the budgets of my Small Staff Association leader readers. All of your members have a “Santa Baby” list, just jam packed with hugely expensive desires of your association that are just funny in their grandness.
But wait! There’s good news!
While those are your members’ wildest dreams, they are not your members’ EXPECTATIONS.
But as a bonus holiday surprise, you can work on some of those big wishes for 2014.
Santa Baby wish: More hours in the day
The real problem: Like you, your members just run out of time for all of the important things in their life including your association, their jobs, and their families.
How you can help: Making your events constructive, well timed, and convenient.
Santa Baby wish: More money
The real problem: Well that one is pretty simply stated. And again, you may have this problem too.
How you can help: Offer discounts when possible. Make your events affordable but more importantly WORTH IT. Definitely prove value of your association membership and events every chance you get.
Santa Baby wish: Better job, or more job satisfaction
The real problem: It might come back to money, but more likely it has to do with recognition and praise. Everyone, regardless of who they are or where they work, wants to look forward to their job.
How you can help: Besides the obvious professional development, you can go the extra mile with recognition. When someone takes on a volunteer role or is just a good member, make sure it’s known!
Santa baby wish: Better health
The real problem: Health is always on everyone’s mind these days, especially with the Affordable Care Act taking off in 2014.
How you can help: Have you considered holding a workshop or having a speaker come in to explain the ACA and how it will impact your members? If you want to avoid that topic completely (which is understandable, it’s very politically loaded) then focus on wellness! How about a fitness challenge or nutritional advice?
Really, these aren’t huge wishes from your members, but they may seem insurmountable if you try to take them all on. Even though you may not be able to wave your magic association wand and fix everything, even asking can go a long way. Ask your members what they really want for the holidays! You may be surprised at how much you can help with.
Is membership sanity on your Santa Baby list? How about shopping for an AMS?
One of the most profound sessions from ASAE 2013 was the session on introverts. It prompted a lot of discussion on social media, among association pros, and definitely in this office. That’s why a recent article on Mashable caught my eye: How Introverts Can Stand Out at Work.
Most people probably assume that association leaders (or anyone who works with a large group of people, for that matter) are always extroverts. That’s just not true! While many of us aren’t 100% comfortable with putting ourselves absolutely in one column or another and recognize both qualities of introverts and extroverts in us, studies show that many successful leaders would call themselves introverts.
So then why is it still difficult for the “quiet ones” to get recognized at work?
The answer is simple. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Well, in this case no repair is necessarily needed, but attention is given. The more talkative, social, and “higher-profile” employees, or members in your case, are the ones talking, so they’re the ones being listened to. That might seem like you, in the face of an “extrovert” board or some of your more introverted members aren’t getting recognized for hard work or are overlooked entirely.
So here’s what the Mashable article says about introverts standing out:
The first tip is to identify and flaunt your quiet strengths. It seems like the flaunting would be the hard part for an introvert, but it might be the identifying. When you don’t often hear what your strengths are, sometimes it’s hard to really know them. Start with what you’re proud of, and why you like your position and go from there.
The second Mashable tip is “know when to rise to a challenge.” Honestly this is a tough one for anyone, introvert or extrovert, because challenges are outside the normal scope of behavior. It’s always difficult to try something new and branch out into the unknown. But it’s also essential for growth!
Finally, the third point hits on a very common problem with introverts: miscommunication. Silence is often interpreted in the worst ways but as with most things, communication is key. Doing a great job and working hard speaks louder than words, anyway!
The truth is, it can be difficult for anyone, introvert or extrovert, to navigate the professional world. When you add in a few thousand members and about a zillion tasks, it gets even more complicated.
Finally, don’t be ashamed of yourself no matter how your personality is! You’ll feel the need to continue to grow and learn, but don’t force yourself to be an extrovert if you’re not. You can still be an awesome leader either way!
Member, Member at Large, Board, Staff, Leader, Director, and Council. Associations are a soup of titles and labels. But they exist for a reason, and nobody can deny that they’re important.
What the specific titles mean varies from association to association, but let’s examine the reasons behind titles and why they’re so important to you, your members, and the rest of the world.
You can’t deny that “I’m the Director of Membership for WXYZ” sounds a bit more dignified than “I handle membership for WXYZ.” Not that, of course, the title means much. Any leadership position in an association title or no, paid or volunteer, busts his or her butt. But a title has a bit of pull for the member/volunteer/staffer and stands his or her apart for their hard work.
2) Someone to turn to
When potential members, or donors are looking for someone to connect with in your association, titles can clear the way. For example, if a local business is looking for a worthy nonprofit to connect with for charitable giving purposes, a treasurer would be the right person to reach out to. If a new restaurant just opened up with a great meeting space and they want to offer some discounts, an events chair is a great start. Clear up your association to the rest of the world with titles!
3) Give you association some faces
Along that same vein, members need an actual person to connect with. Questions pop up, and as the tides of participation ebb and flow volunteers may want to step up. Not only is it important for the community to know whom to reach, but your members need to know too!
4) Resume building and networking
Nobody can deny that association leadership titles look great on a LinkedIn profile or a resume. Plus those distinctions make your members more likely to mention your association on their personal social media, share updates and details among their private circle, and become personal association advocates. A win-win for everyone!
5) Easier for future delegation
As your association grows and changes, jobs become consolidated or expand, new duties popup, and without question things change. Sooner or later the question will come up: “Who is going to handle that job?” Now, titles won’t answer that question entirely, but it’ll at least create some buckets where new tasks may fall.
The bottom line? Find what works for your association. (Isn’t that always the bottom line?) Stumped at what your association’s titles should be? Ask!
Are you a membership coordinator looking for an easier way to handle your changing membership base?
Every year the Clickers do Thanksgiving right with a huge potluck. We all bring in dishes, ranging from the traditional Thanksgiving favorites to the "somewhat different, but refreshing" to the "Why is this on our table? Oh well, it's delicious!" Check out our pictures from yesterday's celebration!
The layout before it was attacked by hungry Clickers
Things are heating up!
Laying out desserts
YUM! We could hardly wait for the second (or third) course
Waiting to dig in
The line forms
Nom nom nom
Caught Kyle mid-bite
More chowing down
Lindsay reclines to make room for more
After the Clickers ravaged the display
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours!
Thanksgiving is late this year and Christmas is in the middle of the week, which means New Year’s is too. It’ll be tough to reach members during the next 5 or 6 weeks.
Why you shouldn’t bother:
It’s family time. The holidays are the “life” part of the work/life balance. They may be going out of town or having relatives come visit them. Chances are they want to focus on their spouses, children, and other relatives, not to mention parties and gatherings. Work and other obligations will likely be the furthest thing from their minds. Laptops turned off or used exclusively for fireplace scenes or holiday music. Phones muted. Day planners abandoned. You probably couldn't get them if you tried. Give your members some space this holiday season. After all, don’t you want the same thing?
Why you have to:
Even though the space between Thanksgiving and New Years can be a place of happy low-productivity, New Year’s is the opposite. People are evaluating their needs and budgets for the previous year and the New Year, but most importantly they’re setting goals. Sounds like something your association would like to be in on, right?
How you should handle it:
If you do have a December meeting or event planned, take this opportunity to make it a low-pressure, fun event and do a little explanabragging. Talk about how much your association has done in 2013. Bring up highlights and thank the attendees for all their hard work. Perhaps share an anecdote or particular point of praise for exemplary members.
Most importantly, give a quick glimpse of what’s going on in 2014. Get your members and attendees pumped for the New Year!
Not having a December event?
Now’s the perfect time to have a good, detailed newsletter recapping the year and previewing the coming year. Share some pictures on social media that really emphasize the fun and value of your association. Congratulate members on promotions and career moves (showing off your professional development aid) and touch on acts of service, volunteerism, or charitable giving from 2013. Spread the love on social media as well, and even a short and sweet holiday card can go a long way. If you have time, a personal note or E-mail for your more steady, active members will help as well.
The bottom line:
You should enjoy the holidays, and your members should too. Take this opportunity to reconnect with family and let things stay tabled for awhile. That way you’re refreshed and ready to take on the New Year!
Is a new AMS in your 2014 plans?