NFPW Board Brainstorms on Member Outreach

The last few years that I’ve attended board meetings, we’ve brainstormed on how to recruit and retain members. Everyone has ideas — some good, some great, some feasible, some not.

Then we leave the meeting and one or two ideas are carried forward and the rest are quickly forgotten because jobs and the day-to-day stuff get in the way.

This year at the board meeting, we did something different. We assigned people to carry them forward. And we assigned due dates. We all hedged on dates, but as we reviewed the ideas from late Friday, everyone ensured that they made it to the matrix, showing what month it was due and who would carry it forward. We worked through lunch. We worked through our stopping time. At the end of the meeting, we had a thorough list.

It included speed networking, more postings on Facebook and LinkedIn, articles and videos profiling our diverse members. The one thing we all agreed on was that we can’t escape the personal touch, as Meg Hunt, a past president from SC, noted. “In a generation where communicators sit beside each other and text, we have to have the personal touch,” she said.

My commitment is to take everything from the flip charts and put it on paper and share it electronically with the NFPW board and affiliate presidents and membership directors. The list may provide inspiration at the affiliate level. At the national level, board members are committed to following through on the items.

The goal is stronger engagement with members through better outreach. Let us know how we’re doing. More importantly, let us know what you want from your membership.

NFPW Board Looks Forward

The NFPW board is meeting in Greenville, SC, hosted by Media Women of South Carolina. Friday was a beautiful, sunny day in town, but the board members were inside a hotel meeting room with no windows. The AC made it slightly chilly.

Why would we give up a day to explore the city and enjoy a beautiful spring day, especially those members coming from winter states (Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania)? Because we’re passionate about NFPW.

The meeting took a few minutes to begin because we had to catch up on what each person had been doing since we last met face to face. Those friendships are one of the hallmarks of this organization. It’s the value add that you don’t find in many professional groups.

So where did day one find us? We used a quote to keep us focused —

“Strategy is not primarily about planning. It is about intentional, informed and integrated choices.” — Hambrick & Frederickson

Marsha Hoffman, Lori Potter consult on NFPW business. (Photo by Lori Potter)

We heard a presentation from Better BNC about taking the communications contest online. Now don’t anyone panic! We’re only in the exploratory stages. However, we’ve learned from other organizations that run online contests that everyone finds it easier once they make the adjustment. This includes the administrator, the contestants and the judges. It also is less expensive because there are less administrative expensives (think shipping all of the entries all around the country) and more members enter because of the ease.

We plan to hear presentations from other firms at the September board meeting before taking further steps. Have any of you entered a communications contest online? If so, let us know what you thought of it.

We also heard from Marsha Hoffman and Lori Potter, two of our members who are hard at work on the 2011 conference in Nebraska and Iowa. These two affiliates decided to partner to put together a fantastic conference with great speakers and pre- and post-tours. We expect to have everything on the website by May 15, including the option to pay for everything (registration and tours) by credit card.

Where do we go from Nebraska and Iowa? Arizona is hosting us in 2012. The hotel contract has been signed. We’ll be in Scottsdale. Two affiliates plan to submit proposals for 2015 and 2016. That means we’re still looking for hosts for 2013 and 2014. Is your affiliate ready to step up?

We also are exploring membership and how we can better reach out to our members. We started brainstorming late in the date, and everyone asked for extra time to finish sharing their ideas. We’ll pick up with the brainstorming and other business by 8 a.m. today.

Yes, it’s Saturday. And yes, it’s another beautiful day. Our incentive is that each of cares passionately about NFPW and wants to continue to make it stronger.

We have a few other incentives, though. We’ll work through lunch eating pizza (why does pizza make everything more enjoyable?) and if we finish early, we’ll have that much more time to explore Greenville.

Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together

I’ve been participating in global, strategic meetings these past few weeks, and now I’m about to participate in the NFPW board meeting. One thing I found helpful in focusing me for the meetings was a conversation about Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together by William Isaacs.’s review noted: “Modern conversation is a lot like nuclear physics, argues William Isaacs. Lots of atoms zoom around, many of which just rush past each other. But others collide, creating friction. Even if our atomic conversations don’t turn contentious, they often just serve to establish each participant’s place in the cosmos. One guy shares a statistic he’s privy to, another shares another fact, and on and on. Each person fires off a tidbit, pauses to reload while someone else talks, then fires off another. In Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together, Isaacs explains how we can do better than that.”

Isaacs defines dialogue as conversation that encourages collective observation and thought, enabling groups to think beyond their members’ individual limitations.

Dialogue takes work. It’s about listening, acknowledging and questioning.

When it comes to listening, it’s not just about hearing the words. It’s about waiting to speak. Too often, we’re listening to the words, but we’re already forming our response or the question we want to ask. I know I used to do that when I attended press conferences. In that setting, it’s appropriate to be ready to ask the questions that I need answers to. When I am in a meeting working toward an organizational solution, it’s more important for me to hear what others have to say. And I need to take time to process what they said.

One way to do that is through acknowledgment. This involves respecting the speaker by not interrupting. I’ve watched many individuals talk over others or interrupt because they just had to have their say at that particular moment. It’s also about not jumping to solutions, but rather listening to all the proposals on the table. Often, it’s good to paraphrase what a speaker said to ensure understanding.

Another way to ensure understanding is to ask open-ended follow-up questions. And we should check our filters – our limiting beliefs, assumptions, interpretations.

It’s a lot to think about while trying to have a dialogue. When done successfully, though, organizational learning will take place. I’m looking forward to listening and thinking together during the NFPW board meeting.

Social Media Resource Recommendations

As part of my presentation for the Media Women of South Carolina’s Social Media Smarts seminar, I was asked to provide some resources to those interested in increasing their social media presence.

If you are not able to attend, here’s what I suggested:

  • Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web by Brian Solis, who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. Engage thoroughly examines the social media landscape and how to effectively use social media to succeed in business one network and one tool at a time.
  • Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath examines why certain ideas – ranging from urban legends to folk medical cures to business strategy myths – survive and prosper in the social marketplace of ideas. And let’s face it, whether you are writing on a social media platform or for a print publication you want the writing to stick.
  • Social Media Examiner is your guide to the social media jungle. It is a free online magazine designed to help businesses discover how to best use social media tools to find leads, increase sales and generate more brand awareness. It is ranked as one of the world’s Top 100 business blogs.
  • allows you to participate in tutorials on thousands of software subjects for a small fee. A one-month membership is $25 or you can sign up for several months or a year and access close to 1,000 courses 24/7.

What resources would you recommend?