I guess I am a social person. I belong to various clubs and associations. Humans seem to be social animals, and I am definitely animal, and apparently socially orientated as well. Many of the clubs I belong to could increase their membership and their members’ enjoyment if they prioritized elements of their club’s affairs.
As President of the Maine Ham Radio Society, I have been doing a lot of prioritizing and rethinking the way things have always been done. And I am just getting started.
Many groups I have been associated with in the past became stagnant, boring, and even unfriendly to certain other members, or potential members. If a club wants to be an active, vibrant part of their community, these habits need to cease. Here are a few things I have encouraged in the MHRS recently, and things I intend to implement in the future.
1. Our clubs need to be welcoming to all members and potential members. For MHRS, that means to people of all ages, both male and female. We need to leave any old-fashioned attitudes at the door. For instance, the female ham radio operators should not be expected to make the coffee, do the cooking and baking at club activities, etc. I intend to make the “goodies” at the next club meeting at my house, whenever that may be. I will make sure there is a bottle of TUMS on hand. Also, we are always complaining that there are not enough young people coming into the hobby or to club events. If we are lucky to have a young person join us, for Pete’s sake, let’s not be patronizing. Accept and respect them as you like to be accepted and respected. First impressions last a lifetime. BTW, I am not suggesting members intentionally behave in a manner offensive to others, but unintentional slights can happen.
2. Be active! For MHRS, that means to be RadioActive and to do things as a club. Covid-19 made it difficult, but not impossible to organize fun events for club members. A lot of people are tired of Zoom meetings (although the video conferencing platform has great benefits even without a pandemic), and are itching now to do things together, as a club. For ham radio, it is easy and perfectly safe to meet over the airwaves in fun and innovative operational activities. With certain commonsense protocols in place, we can also start doing things together in person again. ARRL Field Day, social breakfasts and suppers, and club meetings can start again, as they are here locally. Unless the zombies start patrolling again and the state and local officials begin another lockdown, the ham radio social calendar is looking good. Vaccines should start making a dent in the daily Covid-19 numbers.
3. Use Your Members! By this, I mean get to know all of your members, their stories, their strengths, and turn them into club presentations or discussions. Everyone has an interesting story or aspect of their life or hobby, and its worth sharing.
4. In a perfect world, you would not need to recruit members. Build the club and they will come. Well, no. You need to make an effort to recruit and convince people your club has something to offer them even though they have busy lives and many other interests. If every club member talked up the club and invited people to attend a meeting or to consider joining, the membership rolls would grow. Just emailing membership renewal notices is not enough. Follow that email up with a newsletter that includes a membership application. Then follow that up with a hard copy and mail it to those that have not joined or renewed. And the club officers must set goals. My goal for the 2022 membership area is to retain all existing members, and to bring in at least an additional ten. If the goal is not met, we can brainstorm how to improve the following year.
5. Publicize your group, a lot! Send in press releases to local papers when your club is planning something, or has done something impressive. Use social media every day! Post photos, videos, news, and more. I recently created a Youtube channel for my ham radio club, called MHRS RadioActive. I try to upload a new video every week or two. BTW, Zoom is a great tool for recording events and interviews! You can check out my videos at the link at the bottom of this blog.
Do things. Be nice. That’s the bottom line in making sure people get enjoyment from your associations.
MHRS RadioActive Youtube Channel: https://youtube.com/channel/UCUUjYOH0GfWbuT1gHFmj8kQ