June 21, 2009

My Experience on the Other Side...

As some of you may know, I recently began volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters in my local area. It has been rewarding on a number of levels, and I think the experiences that I've had over the past couple months can be instructive for other associations and non-profits when working with volunteers.

As a volunteer, the three most important things that BBBS has done to make my experience memorable and make me want to continue are:
  • They show me how the time I'm spending is making a difference - Each and every time I meet with my little brother, it is evident that the time I am spending is making his life better. I am also able to see how MY life is better because of the experiences we are sharing. People want to be able to understand and see the value their time is having, not only on others but also themselves...
How is your organization showing its volunteers how their time and effort is making a difference? It's an important aspect of making your volunteers understand their importance.
  • They make it easy- BBBS provides me with the support I need when I need it. For instance, I don't know all of the events happening each month in my area. But, each month, our match support specialist provides me with ideas for events that are happening in which my Little Brother and I can participate. That makes my volunteerism easy, which again makes me want to continue helping.
What are some ways in which you can make the volunteer experience easier for your members?
  • They connect me with like-minded volunteers - BBBS allows me to interact with other volunteers through monthly events. They include picnics, bowling get-togethers, and other fun events where not only the kids can get together, but also the adult volunteers. In the events that I have attended thus far, I have been able to talk with some of the other volunteers to pick their brains so in the future, I can be more prepared for things I am sure to face.
Are you deliberately putting your volunteers in positions where they can learn from one another? If not, how can you make sure to make this a priority?

I think that as we think about the experience of our volunteers, these three simple ideas can really enhance the experience of the folks who make our organizations go.

Why not be more deliberate in making sure these are happening with your organization? Who knows, you might even get some of your satisfied volunteers writing blog posts raving about their experience...

June 15, 2009

Moving Away from the Status Quo

So I was pointed to two YouTube videos recently of Brad Delson, lead guitarist of rock group Linkin Park, giving UCLA's keynote address at its Commencement Ceremony. You might be thinking like I was - really? Brad Delson gave the keynote address at one of the country's top schools? The guitarist of a rock group?

If you watch the funny, heartfelt, witty speech, you will come to find out that he was a summa cum laude graduate from the school in 1999, and was planning on going to law school before following his dream of being in a band.

You'll also come to figure out that he was not the school's top choice to speak at the event (James Franco), or even their second choice (Conan O'Brien), and that he was asked six days prior to the speech to do it.

Delson's speech was FAR from the status quo. He stripped from his robe and cords into a UCLA basketball jersey halfway through it, and played a Britney Spears song on a guitar. He talked about plagiarism, spoke of his late-night meals at one of the "establishments" in Westwood, and made fun of the two people who declined the invitation to speak prior to his call.

While the speech was far from the status quo, you can see that the students LOVED IT! They will never forget who their college graduation speaker was, and likely will remember his words of wisdom for a long time, because it WASN'T the status quo.

I also think that UCLA deserves a great deal of credit for being willing to go outside the box with their choice, and to allow him to give a speech that was not the usual... When they received the text of his speech, which I am sure they did a few days prior to the event, they didn't freak out and cancel him. They embraced that this speech was going to be different, and their students benefited.

As I close, I think this is a perfect example of how doing something that is far from the status quo can benefit the audience. All presentations don't need Powerpoint, and they don't need to follow the exact same script that everyone has seen in the past. Why not encourage presenters to think differently, and allow them the freedom to do something that isn't the status quo?

Your audience will appreciate something different, and your message may stick with them a little longer!

June 10, 2009

Positioning Yourself as the Next...

Reading my favorite blogger Seth Godin usually provides me with a lot of satisfaction. If you don't read his blog, do yourself a favor and start.

When I read his post here, I think he hit the nail on the head. Being "the next" isn't nearly as important as being "the other", "the changer" or "the new". How can you differentiate yourself from the top dog and offer something that the others don't or that they can't easily replicate? Differentiation is the key and innovation is what helps make that differentiation happen.

I don't know what's going to happen with the Bing vs. Google battle, but my guess is that is Bing sticks with their current efforts to try to be the next Google, they will fail miserably and waste all of that marketing money that they're throwing at it. If they'd put that $100 million to use to innovate and offer something different than Google, they may have more success...

June 8, 2009

What's all the Buzz About?

It's about Buzz2009, a one-day social media conference for associations that is taking place July 9 in DC. It's being put on by my blogger buds from SocialFish, and promises to be a really great event.

When I checked out their awesome lineup of speakers, which includes Andy Sernovitz and Guy Kawasaki, I was blown away. Just having these two at the same conference should be worth the cost to attend - $495. The rest of the program is also worth the price of admission, and will be a great opportunity for association professionals to learn more about the social web and how it can be utilized more effectively and efficiently.

The other cool thing in my opinion is that it's going to be a small, closely knit group of people attending - there are only 70 spots available for it - which should make the learning and interaction that much better.

Unfortunately for me, with my July travel schedule and professional development budget being used for other conferences this year, I won't be able to be there for it. I am TOTALLY bummed...

But if you're so inclined, which I'm sure you will be after you check out the program and the speaker lineup, you can register by clicking here. Have fun, and be sure to report back about how awesome of an experience it was!

Buzz2009, July 9 in Washington, DC
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Something Cool Coming Down the Pike...

So I inadvertantly came across the demo from the Google I/O Conference that took place recently. Although it is very long, check it out up to the 40 min. mark to see some really neat things that will be available later this year.

There are SO MANY possible applications for associations. From editing and collaborating on documents in a live environment to utilizing the wave for sharing real-time comments on a blog or on photos, the capabilities that will be made available are endless.

So often we hear that associations are behind the for-profit world in embracing technological advances and social media tools. We now know this new awesome platform is going to be coming later this year. Let's figure out how we can make the most of it and share it with our fellow association professionals!!