I just wrapped up another great session with chapter leaders – Financial Executives International this time. As I do at each of these, I come back with great ideas to try. Two that really resonated with me.
Member Chair as closer. For two of the chapters killing it on membership recruitment, one of the defining elements was the Membership Chair viewing their role as “closer”. One even described this job using this word. He empowers his members to open the door and then hand off the prospect to him. It might look like this this: Peggy brings a colleague, Joe, to a dinner event to experience the chapter and introduces the person to Anita, the membership chair. Peggy fills Anita in a little on Joe. Then following the event, Anita gives Joe a call. Obviously, Anita has to be the right personality for this – a strong networker with a bit of sale acumen. It also means – in both of these groups – that the membership chair has become a multiple year position. The closer stays with the job until he/she is wants to move on.
Students as program planners. One chapter, which like most of the FEI chapters, offers a college student scholarship program. Too often these scholarships are handed out and then everyone moves on – a missed opportunity. This chapter reversed this by establishing a “junior board” to which their recent recipients are appointed. This group has responsibility for planning two CFO breakfasts, obtaining the speaker for the scholarship night and being the organization’s rep on campus to promote the scholarship. One breakfast brought CFOs and students/younger pros together so seasoned executives could provide their insight; the other was designed to help seniors executives better understand the Millennial generation. The win-win was getting senior CFOs who aren’t terribly engaged in events to attend because it connected with their passion for developing the next generation while keeping the students engaged.
Part of what made this work is that the lift for students is relatively light and it provided additional volunteer support for programming and the scholarship outreach.
In both of these cases, chapters were trying new approaches – not radical but variations on the theme. Not all change has to be transformational. What's really cool is how these changes actually came out of ideas they had heard from other chapters - ideas that spawned new ideas. The question we have for national organizations is how do you curate these ideas and share like spreading seeds to germinate more?