An ‘Experience Squad’ of 13 association component relations professionals (CRPs) helped us design the program for the Association Component Exchange aka CEX.
We talked to three of these CRPs recently:
They told us why they’re excited about CEX and what they hope to learn and share while attending.
Dresden got right to the point saying:
A space for CRPs has been missing for a long time…We need to band together to share our wisdom and best practices.
“A big part of doing that is coming to CEX, or attending other events like it—and, frankly, the chances of finding them is very slim to none.”
The lack of a dedicated event or community for CRPs was a constant theme throughout our discussions with Experience Squad members.
Patrick attended ASAE Annual this summer, but said:
I was a little bit disappointed to see there was only one chapter-related session at the conference this year…
“So many CRPs out there have struggles or even successes they want to share…and we didn’t have that opportunity this year. That was disappointing.”
There has not been a place where component relations professionals can connect with one other…just about our area.
“This is the first time this approach has been taken to our particular area of association management…I think the ability to drill down specifically into component relations, and hear what others do and how they address some of the same challenges, it’s very exciting, very exciting.”
Leave it to a CRP to think of addressing challenges as “exciting.”
Dresden said, “One of the biggest challenges, and also one of the biggest opportunities, is that the association model of component relations is changing.” She’s looking forward to CEX because:
Coming together with your peers, you get to learn what solutions other association professionals are using to tackle some of the issues, problems, and pain areas that come from different types of [chapter] models.
Another theme of our conversations was the unique role of CRPs as an ambassador for both their association and its chapters. “We work every day with our members and volunteers—whereas other staff do not always have that level of interaction,” said Wesley.
As CRPs, we’re often right in the middle and have to have the ability to…take one issue or challenge that comes from the chapter level and be able to communicate that internally in a way that my colleagues here in the office can understand.
Wesley added, “We manage our components obviously, but there’s also a certain level of managing up, managing our executives who aren’t down in the weeds and working with volunteers every day.” He’s looking forward to sharing some of the ways he’s addressed these challenges and hearing how others have done it too.
Even though Dresden’s only been at her current position for five months, her success developing a chapter advisory board at her old association helped her build trust with chapters.
She’s already helped two chapters develop strategic plans, but her biggest success so far has been revamping IEC’s new chapter model—a necessity since there hadn’t been a new chapter in more than 15 years. Dresden says:
The new chapter model is more flexible and holds national more accountable for the success of new chapters. Now we’re developing a marketing outreach plan to implement the new chapter development plan.
With the help of Mariner Management & Marketing (our CEX co-hosts), Wesley rolled out a new structure for RAPS’ chapters. He emphasized how important it was to bring chapter volunteers into the planning process: “to make it a collaborative process so everyone feels a sense of ownership and understands where we’re trying to go.” Wesley said:
When at headquarters we take one step towards our volunteers to help support them, they often take two steps toward us.
As the ‘man in the middle,’ he helps volunteers recognize “that maybe we can’t do everything we want to do because it does takes resources.” On the other side, he has “to help national leadership get a better understanding of the true ROI of supporting volunteers and components—it may not be seen immediately on the bottom line, but over time, we will see the return.
And RAPS has seen a return:
Patrick has success stories of his own to share too, but you’ll have to seek him out at CEX to learn more. Here’s a hint: ask him about his chapter mentoring program.
Our three Experience Squad members all spoke about how eager they are to hang out with other CRPs—a rare opportunity. Patrick talked about the need for a CRP-focused event where CRPs can further their education, solve problems, network, and get “that more closely connected relationship with other CRPs so we can pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey I remember you solved this problem, can you help me out?’”
Patrick added, “Don’t get me wrong, I love Collaborate on ASAE but there’s really nothing like having that face-to-face connection…you can’t get anything better than that and that’s what I’m really looking forward to at this conference.”