If you’re a one-person chamber of commerce, see part 1 of this series on physical resources that will help you do more with less and maximize the most important resource to you when you’re on your own: time.
But physical resources aren’t the only things you need. Since much of the chamber responsibility falls on you in a one-person role, it’s important to cultivate the mental fortitude needed for success as a solo staffer.
That may mean adopting a different attitude or thinking about things in a way you may not have considered before. After all, how you think about the role is as important as your tools you use to perform it.
Let’s show you how to position your mindset for success by:
- setting boundaries and aligning everything with the chamber mission
- creating work/life balance and wellness
- thriving with minimal feedback
- managing stress
- asking for help
- working with other chambers
1. Setting Boundaries and Aligning with the Chamber Mission
One of the most powerful things you can do for yourself is to view everything in reference to the chamber goals or strategic plan. If there isn’t a strategic plan in place, you’ll want to put one together as soon as possible (here’s where to start).
Once you have a plan, every decision you make about activities, the creation of committees and events, how you spend your time, etc. will be decided by it and its objectives. As a one-person chamber, it’s important to realize that every minute of your time has the potential to bring you closer to attaining (and conversely, further from) your goals.
Once you know what your goals are and whether the proposed action will move you closer or further away, you can begin to set boundaries. This is to keep the chamber on track and is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your stress levels.
When setting boundaries, and telling people no, remember it is not personal. It’s no different than choosing to go left instead of right because the map to your destination is directing you to go that way.
Keep your goals in mind and follow the path that is most likely to lead you there.
- How to Create a Strategic Plan
- How to Choose a Facilitator When You Create a Strategic Plan for Your Chamber
- Insights and Tips On Creating Strategic Alignment at Your Chamber. An Interview with Cathi Hight.
2. Creating Work/life Balance and Wellness
Many chambers and businesses are noticing the importance of work/life balance and wellness to mental health and implementing plans surrounding these trends. If you are a one-person chamber professional, there is likely no one looking out for this part of your career.
Perhaps you have a wellness professional on your board and they may say something in passing, but just as you are on your own to create your own professional development pathways, you’re in charge of your own work/life balance and wellness needs.
If you’ve set professional boundaries, as advised above, you already have practice at the concept and it’s one you’ll need to achieve work/life balance.
Chamber executive is more than a job. The position will always bleed into your personal life. You will be recognized at the grocery store. Business owners will share their struggles with you in the doctor’s waiting room or while you’re watching your child’s sporting event. You’ll become known as the “chamber guy or gal.” How you choose to feel about these overlaps will color your satisfaction with the role.
Work/life balance may never be completely achievable in a chamber role but if you are satisfied with the job you’re doing both at work and at home, that’s what’s important. Chamber pros may need to switch their point of reference from balance to integration as balance denotes an equality that is likely unobtainable in this role.
Since this balance or integration falls on your shoulders to create (it’s hard for someone else to do it for you, although some environments make it more welcome and easier), make sure you take time to assess your levels periodically. Are you happy with your job and home integration? Does one side feel more neglected than the other? Then adjust accordingly.
- How to Improve Employee Morale at Your Chamber of Commerce
- 32 Ways to Make Your Chamber Work / Life Easier
- Work-Life Integration Is the New Work-Life Balance. Is Your Team Ready?
3. Thriving on Minimal Feedback
Are you a person who requires a lot of feedback on how you’re doing, or do you create your own measurements for success? If you’re the former, you’re going to have to get comfortable with limited professional feedback. Sure, there will probably be a lot of people telling you things the chamber should be doing, but when it comes to you and your role, you may be limited to an annual review. Some chamber pros don’t even get that.
If you are someone who needs feedback, you should implement (or consult) an analytics system so that you know how you are doing. It may also fall on you to schedule an annual review with the executive committee of your board or the board chair. You can also run quarterly member polls about the chamber to get views into your successes and struggles.
Generally, a one-person chamber staffer will need to find ways to feel accomplished without constant feedback. You can also work with your board to create a feedback structure that would identify and involve stakeholders outside of the board.
4. Managing Stress
As with obtaining feedback, managing your stress is largely going to fall on your shoulders. The key to managing stress is not letting it get out of control. If you implement early warning practices to manage it when it’s smaller, it’s easier to work with. If you let it pile up, it can become uncontrollable.
This in itself is a huge topic and we’ve got a few resources to get you started.
- 12 Habits of Employees Who Handle Stress Like a Boss
- 8 Ways to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Chamber Job Success
- 9 Simple Tools to Manage Stress
5. Asking for Help
While you are the single chamber employee, the success of every project, business, and event cannot be assigned to your efforts alone. It may feel that way but there is no way you can do it all yourself.
You need assistance.
You may occasionally get unsolicited offers for help, but more often than not, you will have to ask. Get comfortable with making the ask. If you encourage your chamber members to ask for the assistance they need, you’ll want to do the same.
When you ask for help, keep the following things in mind and communicate them clearly:
- Be explicit in what you need, how long it will take, whether it is ongoing or temporary, and what skills are required.
- The medium should fit the type of ask. Some asks require an in-person moment to be successful; others, like attending an event can use a paper or e-invitation.
- Recognize the power of the ask. While you may feel shy to ask for assistance, if you do and they agree to it, you create a feel-good moment (and set them up for cognitive dissonance motivations) that might cause the person to help you again in the future.
- Help takes many forms. Some people will not give you time but will gladly write a check, or vice versa. Make sure that when you are looking for help that you include different ways people can assist.
- Explain what’s in it for them. Yes, many people are trying to do the right thing these days, but it never hurts when asking for help to tell them what they will receive for their assistance. Don’t just explain that event volunteers get free lunch, for instance. Think of other ways that volunteering could help them personally and professionally. Yes, free lunch is nice but most of us are not destitute enough to trade in our time for just a meal. Offer and convey more of what’s in it for them such as making new connections, helping other businesses or growing the community. Also, tailor that message to the person you’re speaking to. Don’t tell a veteran of the industry and community leader that they can get to know people. They’re not looking for that. What can you give them specifically that they want or need?
- 4 Easy Tips for Overcoming Naysayers on Your Chamber Board
- A Megalist of Ways to Get More Chamber Volunteers
- When Chamber Volunteers Are too Busy
6. Working with Other Chambers
While we’re talking about seeking the help of others, don’t forget about seeking assistance from other chambers. It’s a very friendly industry and since most chambers don’t feel a direct competition with you, joining forces makes sense.
Here are some ways you might consider working together:
- Host an event like a Candidate Night or a job fair with a local chamber
- Ask another President/CEO to give a presentation or help walk you through a new project
- Request an established chamber pro to act as a mentor for you
- Seek help and advice from the Chamber Pros Facebook group
- Ask for technology help or brainstorming ideas
- Consult the resources on this site
- Use the other chamber as a baseline when speaking with your board
Finally, though you may be the only person on the chamber’s payroll, you are not alone as a one-person chamber. There are many resources in your area and beyond to help you and your business community be more successful.
Keep us posted on your progress.