Back to work. It’s a new year but work feels like the same old place, same old cup of coffee, same old desk, and same old to-do list. Did it grow over the holidays? I know, the last thing you need is some blogger suggesting resolutions. Seriously, lady, put a lid on it. I hear you out there.
But, hold on. Sometimes we need a different perspective to nudge us out of a rut, see things from a different angle, or give us a new idea that puts a spark in our day, in our life. That’s my job. Don’t feel bad, I’m just as obnoxious to myself too.
If I imagine myself back in my old chair in my old office at my old association, here’s what I would suggest to myself.
Always play music, softly. But don’t sing along like the woman across the hall. Killing me softly with her top 40.
Talk to a member every day. Nine times out of ten, this will make your day. Make a plan, make a list, make a call. Ask questions. Record your findings so you can share what you learn with others. At meetings, invite a bunch of members you don’t know to coffee or a beer for an informal focus group.
Get social. Find your members on Twitter. Help them create an online community. Use an association hashtag. Organize a Twitter chat if you don’t already have one. Why? So your members will talk about you like Maggie McGary’s members talk about her. Her social efforts created a memorable membership experience for them.
Send less email. I can’t tell you how many times I see my association friends bemoaning their ridiculously full inboxes. Believe me, I understand only too well the need to CYA, but things are getting out of hand. Communicate with your committees within your online community. Try messaging or Yammer instead of emails. We cc people far too often. We send unnecessary replies. We don’t pick up the phone or walk down the hall enough.
Get up and move more. All this emailing is making our butts wide and our hamstrings tight. Set the timer on your phone for 30-40 minutes and put it across the room. The distance, if you have it, is crucial. If it’s near you when it goes off, you’ll think, okay, just let me finish. An hour later your butt will remind you that you’ve been sitting down far too long. Consider yourself lucky if you work in a neighborhood with sidewalks. Take a short break for a walk around the block. It will awaken your brain and refresh your energy. If walking bores you, listen to a podcast (one ear only) while you’re at it.
Don’t eat alone. Invite people from other departments to have lunch with you in an empty conference room. Help each other solve work challenges.
Get nerdy about data. Use what you have to segment lists so you don’t bombard members with irrelevant emails. Identify the gaps and develop a plan to collect the data you need. Invest in Social CRM – I’d say this no matter whose blog I was writing for, seriously.
Read more. Make it a daily habit. Subscribe to blogs. This isn’t your job for life. To move up or out, you need to keep learning and developing skills.
Stretch your comfort zone while enhancing your resumé. Develop new skills by volunteering to do something for an organization (association or nonprofit) that you don’t normally do at work. Learn by doing.
Roll in the trash bin. Get rid of clutter. Trade show swag. Old conference lanyards and name badges. Magazines you’ll never read. Was it in your office when you moved in? Have you used it? Do you legally need to keep it? If you answered, Yes, No, and No, toss it.
My work is done here. I’ll now head back to the sidelines to cheer you on. Happy New Year!
Deirdre Reid, CAE is a freelance writer who can’t cut the cord to associations and, apparently, likes telling other people what to do.