Building a Successful Club in the New Normal

Building a Successful Club in the New Normal

by Karen Coleman, DTM

I just returned from a wonderful Toastmasters Club Success Workshop. It was sponsored by our Club Growth Director, Marcheta Gardner and directed by Branon Gilbert, a member of WBC Toastmasters since 2012. This event took place on Saturday July 11, 2020 at 12:45 and was presented in the comfort of our own home via the Zoom online app.

More than sixty members attended this online meeting. Branon shared some tips and best practices on how to attract new members to our club and how to retain the members we have in this new normal of virtual reality. I could hear the passion Branon had for the subject and the wealth of knowledge and insight did not go unnoticed. The members had so many tips and input of their own and often held witty commentary in the chat box as much as online.

The most interesting topics covered were how to promote our club so people can easily find us online and be sure to update social media platforms with fresh posts and pictures to pique their interest. How to greet and connect with visitors to our club with empathy and compassion while making them feel comfortable in a new environment was thoroughly discussed. The valuable feedback we gain from a visitor is a great indicator of the health of our club. It also reflects on us if we make the visitor comfortable and interested enough to make a return visit.

We are facing a new normal and many of our current members are struggling in ways we may not be privy to, it is our responsibility to be sensitive enough to check in on each other and be a safe person to confide and offer to be of any assistance they may require. People will not care about the club’s interest if the members of the club don’t care about them.

It is vital we retain the members we have so that building the club numbers to meet our DCP goals will not have to be an exhaustive endeavor leading to stressful encounters. We would not want to come across to others as desperate because that would be as annoying as “stinky perfume” as quoted by a workshop participant. A gradual turn in topics led us to the subject of club sponsor, mentor, and coaches as they are the glue to hold new clubs together. Having a mentor in your club has the same effect for the current member who might need a little extra boost to get them to cross the finish line for their Pathways goals. We can only hope that one day we will be able to see each other face to face again, but until then the group pointed out some great ideas to increase FUN and retain fellowship online, such as games, Early online meet for Q&A about roles, pathways, or personal chat fest. Some clubs have virtual luncheons, happy hour, and humorous theme meetings to increase the spirit of community and camaraderie. This club growth workshop was excellent with valuable tools to be used repeatedly in the future to keep our skills sharp and our minds focused. Thank you Marcheta Gardner and Branon Gilbert for an excellent workshop and professional job well done.