Making Connections: Supercharging Your Networking Activities

I attended a great webinar the other day on how to supercharge your networking activities from the folks at NXUnite.

The following are my notes in no specific order based on a series of questions they asked and answered.

Why is it critical for networking at your events?

  • It’s a top result from surveys and a top benefit.
  • Relevance bringing our members together.
  • It is hard to measure.  Getting with folks just like you who understand the world you live in.  Celebration, collaboration, and share failures with your peers too!
  • Don’t forget to let technology allow for other ways to network during your events.
  • Our job is to create the space to have our member’s network and learn from each other.

How can we help our members authentically engage versus just showing up?

  • Scheduling is key.  Make it a priority!  Plan with intent not just having a reception.  Have a plan to bring your member’s closer together.  Issue based, geographic, etc., are a couple of ways to segment your networking.
  • Remember, this is a big part of the reason your members are attending your events.
  • It can’t be frivolous or just have a “cheese plate.”
  • Maybe have a speaker or sponsor in the room and introduce them with a fun fact!  It’s a great way to get the networking started.
  • “Ask me about (attendee fills out something unique about themselves” on name tags.  It’s a fun networking starter.

Difference between in-person and online networking?

  • You can do both, but you need to be intentional.  You need to build spaces for the networking to take place.
  • It’s not about having an open chat room online.  Be specific on the reason for any rooms you’ve created online.
  • Focus on the experience your members will have online.  You need to figure out what your members want.  Remember, online, you can only have one person talking at any one-time vs in-person where everyone can be interacting.

How should you evaluate your current networking activities?

  • Look at your AMS data, registration data, and folks who may have uploaded their profiles.
  • Ask specific questions in your follow up survey.  Find out which members want the networking and learn from them by digging deeper on who they are.

Advice for upping the Annual Meeting networking?

  • Coffee breaks, be intentional on how you can use this time wisely.
  • Create an experience that your member may not be expecting.  Do you have an element of surprise in your networking events.
  • Promote your networking events but hold back that surprise element.
  • If you have an awards program as part of your event?  Do it on the front end not on the backend so people can react and network with that person in the next day or two.
  • Gift giving networking event?  You have to get someone a drink or they have to get you one as an ice breaker.

Final thoughts:

  • Not all of your attendees want to network, so don’t force it on people, but make sure you do focus on networking for those who want it.
  • If you can survey your folks before your event for what they want, try to respond with what they’ve told you.
  • Involve your sponsors in these networking events and they may also have ideas they’ve experienced somewhere else that you could integrate.
  • Introverts could thrive in your online networking where they may feel overwhelmed at an in-person event, something to think about.
  • Don’t forget to use your name tags as a networking opportunity.

For other ideas on networking go HERE and HERE.

State Legislatures – How Did Your Session Go?

It’s March and most state legislatures are in the middle of their session and will start to wrap up business for the year, in the next month or two, with the exception of special sessions.

We’re you prepared to handle the issues raised and debated at your state Capitol this year?  How do you prepare each year?

First and foremost, do you have a policy committee to address the top issues for your business community and state and do you have positions on those issues?

That’s the role of a public policy committee.  If you don't have one, create one now to address the policy issues for your chamber, ahead of each legislative session, so you’re not scrambling to come up with a plan to address the issue of the day.

As a general rule, you should not be surprised on the issues that will come up or be addressed each year by your state legislature.  Do your homework!  Be ready and communicate where you stand on upcoming issues before the state legislature to your members and your community.

For a great resource on preparing for an upcoming legislative session, in your state, by Muster, go HERE.

For a great resource on the 2023 Legislative Sessions around the country go HERE.

Annual Social Media Review

The new year has started, have you taken a look at your social media presence? 

If not, now is the time to take an intentional look at what you’re doing, determine what’s working and what’s not, and be strategic about moving forward.

In the old days, people thought you had to be everywhere all the time.  Those days have changed.  Find out where your members are sourcing their information and make sure you’re in the sandbox.

For a great resource on conducting a social media audit for your organization go HERE and HERE.


Now that you’ve conducted that audit, use those data points to chart a course going forward!

As stated above, be intentional on what you want to do and spend your resources accordingly.  That means staff time and money.

Lapsed Membership Mailings

It’s that time of the year to jump start your membership with a lapsed member campaign.

I’ve written about this in the past, but it is at least an annual campaign you need to have in your membership marketing plan.

I personally believe you should conduct at least two, and I’ve worked in organizations that did them on a monthly basis.  If done right, they’ll generate members and money.

Two things you need to put in order before you launch your campaign.

  1. Clean-up your member database; and
  2. Decide what your offer is going to be.

As stated in the past, I've done the mailings in two ways:

  1. Invoice only; or
  2. Invoice with a cover letter highlighting the latest activities of the organization and any recent activities they’ll recognize that they benefited from.

If you do a letter, make sure you have a contact person they can reach out to directly and also the ability to pay online.  The key is to make it easy for them to rejoin!

And what's most important is that you don’t delay.  Jump start your year with that lapsed mailing campaign, with updated membership, data today!

For a great resource on tips and templates for lapsed membership campaigns go to MemberClicks HERE.

LEAD-ER-SHIP: No Regrets. No Retreats.

The following post is based on William Canary’s new book titled, LEAD-ER-SHIP: No Regrets. No Retreats.  For a copy of the book go HERE.

After reading the book, I wanted to post a “Leadership Is” list of nuggets that jumped off the pages for me that I want to share.  I hope you enjoy!

Leadership is leading by example.  Trust those you lead as partners, not employees.  Put people in a position to succeed with the resource they need to succeed.

Leadership is not about titles.  Leadership is about being authentic.  Be a teacher, educate and motivate your team members.  Create an atmosphere where people can make a difference.

Leadership is about communication.  It’s also about being a great listener.  And when communicating - be clear, be concise and use words your team can embrace.

Leadership is about optimism.  I personally like to quote a leader in the restaurant business I had the privilege to meet, IHOP Founder Al Lapin, who used to tell me, “Raymond, in business, there are no challenges, only opportunities.”

Leadership is about welcoming dissent based on well informed principles.  Not everyone will align with your goals all the time.  Leaders know how to respond.

Leadership is about failing forward.  Good leaders know their risk tolerance when deciding on a pathway forward.  William quoted Winston Churchill in this chapter, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

Leadership is about thinking outside the box, or as the author states in Chapter 7, “Thinking Ahead of the Box.”

Leadership is about challenging the status quo.

For blogs I follow on leadership, go to the right navigation bar down the page titled LEADERSHIP BLOGS.

Ten Tips to Prepare You When Disaster Strikes Your Community

The following post are my notes from a webinar this past Fall held by Institute for Organization Management faculty member Diane Probst, IOM, CCE on the title of this blog. 

She started out by stating the disaster can be anything from a major storm, their experience, to an active shooter, etc.

She talked about the two stages that come with every disaster:

The Crisis Phase

  • Your community is flooded with people to help.  Government and volunteers from across the country will show up.  It’s all about cleanup, money, and getting the community going again.

The Long-term Recovery Phase

  • You will probably need to hire people who can help you, identify sources of funding, develop a plan and communicate what you’re doing with your community, just to name a few.

She went on to talk about the 10 tips or “Lessons Learned” from their experience.

  1. Leaders stepping up to lead - stay in your lane.  Do what you’re good at.
  2. Unified “one voice” communication – stick to the facts and communicate on a regular basis.
  3. GoFundMe – in their case, they went from $2K to $1.4 million in 60 days in unsolicited funds.  The key is to have a process in place to receive and disburse those funds.  And who will decide where those funds go.
  4. The Chamber – stay laser focused on your role and you will persevere.  They also celebrated business re-openings to build support in the community.
  5. Social Media Whirlwind – the key here is to have a running list of what you’re doing so you can track what you’re saying.  It’s also key to put together a great communications team that can execute your plan.  This is how you will tell you story on how your community is opening up for business.
  6. The Disaster after the Disaster – you need to identify where you will house all the donation items that are sent your way (think truckloads of water, etc.).  Diane talked about how the faith-based organizations are a good resource for you to tap into and help in the phase of your recovery.
  7. Economic Revitalization Must be Quick – identify and promote the economic activity that’s going on in your community.  They focused on back to business activities (concert, TV and radio appearances, etc.).
  8. Failure to plan is a plan for failure – a long-term recovery plan is so important.  This plan needs to identify who will do what when it comes to implementation.
  9. Find Healthy Happiness – take care of yourself, physically, spiritually, and mentally.  Embrace the process of getting your community back to business.  She couldn’t emphasize enough, “Take Care of Yourself.”
  10. Mistakes & Move On – be confident on your work even when others might doubt you, don’t let that affect you, you will weather the storm.

Her final comment: Tell Your Story!

For resources on disaster management click HERE for how the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can help. 

Trust: What is your Definition?

I recently read Justin Patton’s new book “Your Road to Yes!” that addresses the issue of trust. 

For a copy of the book go HERE.

My definition of trust is very simple.  Tell the truth and do what you say you’re going to do.

The book goes deeper into the building of trust and how to repair trust if it is broken.

Justin’s definition is “the unwavering belief that you will have my back and I will have yours.”  To me, that sounds like a version of my definition, albeit using different words.

While I don’t want to detail every chapter of the book, he touches on trust won, lost, and how to get it back once you’ve lost it.

What a great read and thank you Justin for being part of the IOM faculty family.

For more information on Justin Patton go HERE and to purchase his book go HERE.