Guest post by
Ok, CRPs … how’s your year going? Here at Mariner, we’ve seen the impact the pandemic and nation-wide protests have had on the associations we work with and sometimes, it isn’t pretty. No face-to-face interactions, zoom fatigue, shrinking budgets, blurred geographic boundaries have led to a host of complications. So how do associations overcome these challenges? What has worked and what hasn’t worked? One thing is certain; if there is one essential truth about component relations it’s that we are in a partnership with our chapters and nothing is more effective at maintaining those partnerships than good old fashion communications.
As 2020 Association Component Exchange (CEX) approaches (and yes, we’re going virtual this year!) we look back to 2019 CEX where Kiki L’Italien sat down with CRPs for a chat on some of the challenges they face – even without a pandemic hanging over them! – and how they seek to build successful relationships and trust through good old-fashioned communications. *Listen to CRP’s full interview by clicking on their name.
Number one truth to building a strong partnership is that …
TWO-THIRDS OF THE BATTLE IS JUST COMMUNICATIONS.
Adam Hostetter says national associations often focus only on solving technical problems, increasing member engagement, boosting event registrations at the chapter level, and not enough on good communications. And he believes that poor communications plague most of these groups. “They [chapters] don’t trust their parent organization and they don’t trust that they’re getting their best intentions [sic]. So it goes back to good old-fashion communications, i.e., face-to-face communications. engaging with your leaders, engaging with board, engaging with your members.”
Of course, this can be easier said than done because …
NOT EVERYONE COMMUNICATES OR LEARNS IN THE SAME WAY.
Patrick Algyer of Northern Virginia Apartment Association (NVAA) believes the key to creating a strong relationship is to diversify your communication, strategy or tactics: “Not everybody communicates the same way. Not everybody learns the same way. So you have to find that middle ground of speaking to everybody, or provide an avenue (whatever avenue that is) for them to find more, and you have to just roll with that [sic].”
But it’s not all on national as …
RELATIONSHIP BUILDING IS A TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION STREET.
Ann Dorough, CAE of The American Institute of Architects (AIA) believes good relationship building begins with great communication between national and chapters. “We’re helping to translate what’s going on at the national level to those state and local units and creating alignment. So, it’s a unifying force … we’re trying to get our chapters engaged and in alignment with what we’re all doing. But we also try to make sure that our national organization is learning from the locals.”
Which takes us to another truth that …
NATIONAL NEEDS TO LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN!
Amanda Scharff of National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) finds her greatest challenge on a national level is working with all different component relation sizes where the one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t work and figure out what each chapter needs and how she can assist. For Amanda, the key is listening: “Listening to the challenges, listening to the success stories, listening to everything in between and trying to figure out how do I put all these professionals together that are on different sides of the country.”
And of course, …
ADAPTABILITY IS KEY.
Emily Jennings of Community Associations Institute (CAI) finds her greatest challenge is when chapters believe they already have all they need in terms of skills. Building a good cohesive relationship then means being able to fit into whatever scenario that a chapter may need “because you want it to be a good cohesive relationship and so you don’t want to just come in and say, ‘Oh, you need to do this, this and this.’ It’s really about a partnership between us and them, and really helping build those skills within them.”
Again, we thank Kiki L’Italien for serving as our resident association chatter at 2019 CEX! Check out this clip of Kiki’s interviews at CEX 2019: Why Chapters and CRPs Matter