Traveling & Collecting Best Practices

One of my 2011 resolutions emerged somewhat serendipitously. It wasn’t until I had planned several long getaway weekend trips that it occurred to me that I could tie in some business for a few hours when I visited each city. As a member of a couple of Valley association boards, I figured, why not call ahead (as opposed to the “pop-in”) and make some appointments with fellow board members at chapters in the cities I was visiting. Sure sounded easy enough.

I booked Martin Luther King Jr. weekend to visit some old friends in San Diego, then scheduled President’s Day Weekend in Denver to catch up with some other old friends and colleagues and savor the Rocky Mountain cooler air.

I did my research on the San Diego and Denver chapters and outreached via email to the club presidents and vice presidents to see who might be available for coffee or lunch or a quick visit to their office. As it turned out, nearly everyone I contacted responded with the same enthusiasm to meet and share what was going on with their organization’s operations and events. I was able to visit the San Diego Ad Club’s headquarters and see what they were planning for last month’s national AAF ADmerica conference. It was interesting to see that they actually had two staff members and office space where members regularly congregate, network an seek freelancers. This is a rarity, at least in most markets I would presume.

For President’s Day Weekend in Denver, I was able to meet with three contacts from different associations in the span of four hours in the downtown area. I  ended up meeting at two different Starbucks on opposite ends of the pedestrian-oriented 16th street, and my final meeting was at the contact’s sky-rise law firm where I was invited to participate in a regional communications judging, as they were short and needed a third judge. It was a rewarding experience to review different category entries from other cities as a “guest judge” from the Phoenix chapter. I was happy to help and they fed me, so that is always good when you are providing pro bono services!

I  had a great 30-45 minute conversation with the other two contacts, asking them about membership size, board member roles, types of events, and average attendance. I took a page of notes from each meeting and shared the input with my fellow Phoenix board members for their reference and potential benchmarking to see where our engagement and activities stack up in comparison to other regional major market chapters.

My next trip is to visit some friends and former colleagues in Seattle for Labor Day weekend, and I have an appointment to meet with board members of the Seattle IABC Seattle Chapter. The unfortunate thing for me is  that I never really knew much about IABC or made the time to check it out during my seven years there working in pro sports public relations.

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