Forget Technology, It’s Relationships

Of all the responses I received to my request for help in setting an agenda for 2010, the one that gave me most pause was from Jeff De Cagna (like I was surprised?):

In 2010, association leaders need to ask a fundamental question: how can we make everything we do more social?  This question is not primarily a technological consideration, but a strategic and human one.  The challenge is to look beyond the tools at the diverse relationships they enable and the deeper meaning they nurture.

Jeff is reminding us ever so succinctly that at the core it’s the relationship– it’s me being able to reach out to friends on Twitter to ask for help and, because we have relationships, getting rich advice back. It’s me knowing that the ones that replied care about me (no I’m not going Sally on you!). It’s knowing that trust and respect is mutual.

Earlier this week, we hosted the monthly ANEX brown bag lunch & idea swap in Columbia, MD. Our topic was “Big Idea Month Revisited” which sought to extend the great conversation from last month on Acronym (read my take here). One awesome big idea that certainly relates to Jeff’s advice came from Shaun Callahan of he makes it a point to get on the phone with people. If he gets an email that requires more than a simple yes or no, he picks up the phone. And he ends every conversation with a simple entreaty to find out if is there anything else he can do for you. Again it’s the relationship.

Is he all talk? No. At the end of the gathering I was in a quandary because I had to find a book for my 16-yr right after the meeting. Shaun right there and then made two calls that helped.

As I travel through the new year, I hope that I will spend as much time nurturing relationships as I do anything else. And I offer this challenge – if I have failed in my end, let me know.

PS If you haven’t already, read Jeff’s post in Acronym on new work of governing from more food for thought that extends his simple advice here.