Succeeding as a “Lone Ranger” Chamber Exec

by Christina Green

Guest post:

Helping small businesses, chambers & associations create content that inspires action. Everyone has a story.

Hi, I’m Christina Green.

Frank asked me to share some of my thoughts as a frequent guest blogger on his site.

I’ve worked in membership marketing for the past 5 years or so, working with chambers and other member-based organizations.

I’ll be drawing from the great questions of the Chamber Professional’s Group on Facebook like this one:

If you were, or are, the ”Lone Ranger”  at your chamber, share what creative strategies, tips and actions you have used to successfully manage this role and at the same time strengthen/grow your chamber.  How do you “get out the daily wash,” but still lead the pack out of the laundry room and into the sunlight! Inquiring minds want to know!

chamber help for executivesIn my consulting and strategic planning with chambers I run across a number of these “Lone Ranger” executives. Running a chamber when you are the sole employee takes fortitude, creativity and stamina. Lots of potential pitfalls, not the least of which is seeing more and more of your time spent on administrative tasks to give the board the data they expect and need, with less and less time left to fulfill your executive leadership role and use that leadership talent that got you hired!
What advice would you share with others that made it work for you?

Automate Chamber Tasks

 

My suggestion in the case of being a “Lone Ranger” is to automate what you can and find yourself a Tonto for the things you can’t.When you are a one person show, uncovering efficiencies is the difference between success and floundering.

  • Can your software help you easily run the reports your board needs?
  • Do you make the most of pre-scheduling posts and social media announcements?
  • Do you use technology to keep you on track?

Take some time to investigate the options available so you don’t spend time on things that could be automated.

Much of this technology is free. For instance, software like Buffer app and Hootsuite can publish posts for you on a schedule of your choosing. Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s Sky Drive give you access to your files no matter where you are with no concern of losing data because it’s housed in the cloud and constantly backed up.

If you don’t feel comfortable auditioning technology, find a tech lover in your chamber membership and ask her what she loves. Techies adore talking tech.

Where Do You Make the Most Impact?

 

You can’t do it all.

Yes, you’re extremely efficient but running everything from the administrative aspects of the chamber to the leadership roles is near impossible in the long run. You need to choose where you (and your skills) make the most impact and delegate the rest.  A great general rarely fights on the front line. It’s not because the general can’t, it’s because his/her skills are needed elsewhere. Being the CEO of a chamber is no different.

You were hired to lead. chamber CEO doing it all

Leadership Begins with People

Your first step in leading is finding good people to “serve” with. Ideally, you’ll be able to convince your board you’re understaffed but if not, one of your first leadership goals will be to strengthen your volunteer program. Turn to social media. If you have a volunteer coordinator, empower this person to help you create chamber social media ambassadors. These folks will help you get the word out for events. They are your PR team.

If you have some robust chamber management software with great reporting features, set up the queries you need and have a trusted administrative person (or maybe a college intern) run them for you. You need to analyze the numbers for your board, but there’s no reason you need to be involved every month in creating them.

Make a list of everything that falls on you. You’ll find some are true CEO duties and some are administrative busy work. Then next to every item, assign it a category — Things you must do, things that can be automated, and volunteer opportunities (things you need help with).

Making that list might just convince your board they need to hire you an assistant or perfect that cloning idea.

   
 
E-Sig102014