Susan Rooks en Professions, Workers, Careers, Directors and Executives, English The Grammar Goddess • Grammar Goddess Communication 17/11/2016 · 3 min de lectura · +700

Thursday's Thought: How Welcoming is YOUR Organization?

Thursday's Thought: How Welcoming is YOUR Organization?

Have you ever attended a business meeting or networking event where you knew very few people . . . maybe no one?

How did you feel when you were walking in? Confident? Curious? Cautious? Comfortable? Uncomfortable?

All those are possible, of course, but I think most of us would admit to at least feeling a little uncomfortable, if only for a few minutes.

Right?

I spent nearly ten years as a regional chapter director in an international networking organization (a job I loved!), and I learned a fair bit about one of the most important aspects of growing a paid-membership organization: the Visitor Experience. Chapters in that organization usually do a bang-up job of welcoming and including visitors; it's one of many reasons they have had such phenomenal growth.

One of my strongest messages as a director to the members in "my" chapters was how important the Visitor Experience would be for the growth or death of the chapter. All organizations lose members; attrition is normal. Members move, change jobs, retire -- the list is endless. So growth and profitability depend on a steady stream of visitors, many of whom could choose to become members.

Inviting business professionals to attend a meeting as a guest was only the beginning. What happened once they got there was crucial. The members had to understand -- all members should get this -- that everyone is a Visitor Host. Everyone. Some have that "title," but anytime a stranger walks into a room, everyone should be on high alert.

Why? Because those first few minutes of a visitor's experience may well seal the deal for gaining or losing that person as a member.

Every member of every public meeting can have an impact on a visitor's experience.

Over the last couple of years, I have attended many paid-membership business meetings, wondering if I could find a group that I would feel comfortable in. With all my outer confidence, I am still no different than most others: I hope that when I enter, someone will be kind and smart enough to welcome me with a big smile.

Doesn't always happen, though.

And why do I say kind and smart? Well, because showing kindness towards a visitor is a good thing with a personal upside as well. Who gets to make a positive first impression? Who stands out from the crowd? Who are visitors most grateful for? Who sets the tone for the entire experience?

As the amazing Maya Angelou said:

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

So my question to you is: How do visitors feel at your meetings?

  • Do you have Visitor Hosts -- designated or otherwise -- who actually welcome visitors? Are they there early, with everything set up, ready to welcome the visitors who are also early because they weren't sure where they were going? Or are most members busy chitchatting with other members, too blind to see the newcomer hesitating at the door? Too blind to see the opportunity that a visitor represents? Any time a stranger walks through your meeting room door, every member should be on high alert! Newcomer at the door!

  • Do you include visitors in the entire meeting? Even if you need a little time (five minutes should do it) to conduct member business without visitors being in the room, do you have someone outside the meeting room talking with them -- not selling to them! -- until they can return? This is a great time to find out what the visitors saw, heard, thought, and FELT during the meeting. And having visitors rejoin the members allows them to begin to feel like a part of the meeting before they actually apply for membership. They need some unscripted time to join in conversations, maybe to plan to meet a member outside of the meeting, maybe to compliment someone on a presentation, maybe even to ask about a member's products or services. If they're not welcome after the meeting, they lose that chance. And they may never return.

  • Do you always follow up with visitors? It amazes me -- not in a good way -- that I can visit a group but then have no one call me, email me, or text me to see how I enjoyed the meeting! That tells me several things, some true, some maybe not: They didn't like me. They don't see value in having me be a member. They're totally disorganized. No one steps up or takes responsibility. They don't actually want more members. They have no idea what they're doing.

I know the prevailing wisdom is to take care of the members you have, to make sure they're happy and that they see the value of their membership, and to make sure they renew each year. Obviously, that's important. But if you neglect the visitors, who have no reason to be silent about their crummy experience, you will ultimately lose big. We all know that bad news travels incredibly fast -- especially now with social media.

What do you want outsiders saying about YOUR organization?

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

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Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If it has helped you in any way, I hope you will . . . 

Share it, so your connections can see it and perhaps learn too. Let us know what you liked best or learned; that will also help you be seen by my connections. You never know who would be interested in YOU. 

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My previous posts can be seen here, and they're easy to find because they're categorized. Just type in a word in the search box on the topic you're looking for and see everything I wrote on it.  

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Thursday's Thought: How Welcoming is YOUR Organization?Do the associates in your company look and sound as smart as they are? They would if they could take one of my Brush Up on Your Skills workshops right where they work. If your company hires outside experts to teach any topic to its associates, please share my posts and website with your Human Resources or Training Manager. 

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Susan Rooks Nov 19, 2016 · #3

#2 And I just read your post on bias; I shared it, but I am still trying to figure out what to say about it! And of course my post can have a wider aspect; I just wanted to start the conversation about that narrow slice. I have a couple more posts in the making, continuing the theme. Must say, though, I hadn't thought of bias in terms of welcoming. Now, of course, I'll be doing just that!

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Ken Boddie Nov 19, 2016 · #2

Interesting post, Susan, that has a much wider application than just visitors. Having recently attended a presentation to our senior staff from a specialist on 'diversity' who illustrated to us how we are unconsciously biased towards others outside the various 'in-groups' we tend to create (including your visitors). The initial road to recovery is often being aware of this bias.

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Susan Rooks Nov 17, 2016 · #1

Thank you, @John White, MBA, for sharing my post! I really appreciate it!

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