Help chapters improve their communication practices
A chapter communications toolkit is a valuable resource to offer. Sheri suggested including resources that help chapter leaders position themselves as association and industry leaders and talk ‘on brand’ about the association, such as:
- Key messages and sub-messages aka association talking points, the foundation of your verbal brand
- ‘About the Association’ one-pager
- FAQ: myths and truths, especially helpful in controversial industries
- Steps for creating a chapter communications plan
- Instructions for including the association/chapter in email signatures
- Sample elevator speeches and news releases
- Sample chapter website landing page, social media posts, and journalist and legislator pitches
- List of communications resources available from HQ
Sheri’s done virtual road shows to walk chapter leaders through the toolkit.
She also recommends offering communications training to chapter leaders. First, do a needs assessment to find out what type of communications they send to members and external audiences now and what they’d like to send in the future. Since they don’t know what they don’t know, give them a list to choose from with the option to add other items. Ask them to also choose the communications skills they’d like to develop or improve. With this information, you can segment chapter leaders by needs, share the most relevant resources with them, and identify training you need to offer.
To more effectively connect with chapter leaders, ask them to take a communication style quiz (like this 12-question quiz). For emails covering important topics, segment chapter leaders by their style—analytical, intuitive, functional, or personal—to more effectively get your message across.
Chapter leaders and volunteers are more likely to make time for learning skills they can apply in their ‘day’ job now or in the future, for example, email copywriting, coaching, listening, and giving feedback. Plus, their employer is more likely to give them time away if the training aligns with company needs too.
Encourage peer-to-peer communication by hosting a private chapter leader community or Slack. Individually connect leaders who can help each other solve problems. Pair up mentors and mentees. Convene regular chapter leader workshops, interactive webinars, and meetups where they can share success stories and consult their peers (and you) for advice.
Communication is the foundation of trusting relationships between your association and chapter leaders, between chapter leaders, and between chapters and their internal and external audiences. Good communication skills can transform relationships and help everyone involved perform at their best. Check out our webinar recording, Beyond Borders: Uniting Chapter Communications, for strategies and tactics to improve your chapter relationships and communications.