blog by Danielle Liu, MPA, CPO®
If you’ve ever chaired a Nominating Committee you know it’s a lot like leading the procurement team for your local auction – friends and family alike will run when they see you! But these Nominating Committees toil on – placing phone calls, vetting candidates, and ultimately presenting slates of eager, and sometimes semi-eager, nominees to lead your organization’s chapters.
The hope for new chapter boards is that you come to the adventure excited and hopeful, but (understandably) apprehensive. The coming year holds many unknowns, lots of meetings, perhaps some conflict, certainly some challenges – will these leadership opportunities benefit or distract you from your business? We often hear you “get more than you give” in volunteer work. Do you think it’s true? Well, here’s some good news: the skills honed while serving as a Chapter Board Member will most certainly benefit your own professional business.
Here are three such examples:
Skill #1 Strategic Planning
Most Chapters will host either a Board Retreat or a Strategic Planning Meeting in the beginning stages of a new board transition. Hopefully they’ll gather some info from their chapter membership; then they’ll hunker down for a day or two and hammer out a plan – a guide for the coming year. It can be an arduous task, sometimes fraught with dissent, other times pleasantly unifying. The result is a focused Strategic Plan – including a theme for the year, three or four primary goals and measurable and time-sensitive objectives.
Now imagine applying this Strategic Planning skill to your own business. What would your year look like if you dedicated a long weekend to creating a 1, 3 or 5 year plan? How quickly would your business grow if you had concrete goals with measurable objectives? Would you be more focused?
Ben Franklin said: “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Put a Strategic Plan in place for your own business and see how your bottom line improves!
Skill # 2 Operations
I’ve seen a glimmer of regret in the eyes of many a new Board Member. It usually happens when they’re presented with the “Board Book” – a collection of yawn-worthy documents like Bylaws and Policies and Procedures. Spreadsheets and budgets blend together with calendars and agendas. What have you gotten yourself into?! Whether you find these guiding documents a big snooze or a treasure trove of info, one thing’s for sure: someone spent hours creating them; some predecessor put these in place to make your job easier. Upon closer examination you might find these documents quite helpful. They keep your Chapter clicking along like a Swiss watch, eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel.
Now picture similar such documents guiding the operations of your own business. Do you have policies and procedures? Have you created a calendar to manage your website updates, client outreach and administrative tasks? Do you stick to a budget and regularly review returns on investments? Sometimes we’re so quick to build our clientele that we forget or neglect a firm foundation. Maybe we sensed our business was on shaky ground but we didn’t know what to do about it. Perhaps your experience as a Board Member will be the impetus to finally putting these important operations in place.
Skill #3 Networking
While “networking” conjures up images of slightly glazed people engaging in small talk, you should make your networking opportunities into a web of people helping people. When you sit on a Chapter Board of Directors, you become part of this web. You will have opportunities to communicate with other Chapter Board Members and industry leaders throughout the world! Your horizons will expand exponentially.
How does all this meeting and greeting improve your own bottom line? Perhaps you want to write an e-book and just happen to meet an author at one of these said networking events, conceivably you could meet a colleague with whom you really connect, and the two of you become accountability partners. There are truly countless ways your new connections will serve your business.
So to all the new and returning Chapter Board Members – Presidents who lead, Vice Presidents who support, Treasurers who balance books, Secretaries who document, Past Presidents who share wisdom, and Directors who welcome new members, market your industry, create enticing programs and build better websites – this is our wish for you: that you get more than you give; that you enjoy personal and professional growth; that you learn a new skill; that your business thrives; that you leave your chapter better than you found it; that you remember this year with a laugh rather than a sigh, with gratitude not regret; that you make some new friends; and most of all, that you’ll come back for more.
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